The Crow’s Eye
The Crow's Eye describes itself
as psychological terror, where you find yourself investigating the
disappearance of students and faculty 20 years ago from the (now)
abandoned Crowswood Medical University.
The terror is largely what went
on, revealed through the notes and journals. While there is a level of
creepiness created by the perennially dark environment (thanks goodness
for the early-on never ending power of my zippo lighter), it is a
reasonably mundane place right now. I did get bitten by two worm-like
creatures, requiring a moment of frenetic shaking to get rid of, and the
voice welcoming me to an experiment suggested that more was going on
than just me poking about an empty facility, but by and large it was
just dark and a tad foreboding. There is though some crawling through
vents, a surefire way to feel unsettled.
The Crow’s Eye plays in the
first person and uses the mouse and keyboard. I suggest mapping the keys
to suit yourself - I didn't much like the default ones. A health
"syringe" top right of screen clearly indicates death can become you; so
too the fact that you can collect material and then craft healing
bandages in the inventory. There are no battles however, no creatures to
flee, and harm comes from falling off things through mistimed jumps and
the like. An amount of health will be depleted, but you will be restored
to the fail point. If the syringe gets empty however, its game over.
As well as bandages, I crafted
other items, including lockpicks (thank goodness there weren’t many of
the little lockpick games), maps (a very useful tool required to be made
at each new level), and a powerful electro-magnet which came in very
handy for shoving things about and even bouncing around. The adrenaline
syringe you find, and which automatically refills after use, displays
below your health syringe and is a very necessary part of getting
through the environment – you speed up, things slow down, and great
feats are possible.
Much of the puzzling is
environmental, invariably based around working out where to go next and
sorting out how to get there. Unlock doors, restore power, flip
switches, push and pull things about. Some is more complicated; position
cubes strategically to make a jumping or climbing platform, once you
flip the switch that sticks them to the walls. Speaking of which, there
is a fair degree of jumping and ducking, not nearly enough to make it a
platform game, but certainly more than enough for pure adventurers.
There are also some straight out puzzles, one of which is repeated and
involves pushing cubes around a room and which I rather enjoyed. There
are two timed puzzles and a maze; make up your own mind about those.
I did spend a lot of time
exploring and walking and pondering, so while those other elements are
present, for me they didn’t dominate. I thought it was a good balance of
the things I like about adventuring, and those things I like about other
sorts of games.
It looked good too. The gloomy
environment was appropriately drab yet incredibly detailed. There was
excellent ambient sound, with music used when needed rather than
continuously, which I generally prefer.
You can also smash things just
cos, always a cathartic activity.
You have completely free
movement, including 360 degree panning, and looking up is always
important. If you have an inventory item that is needed, usually a key
or a battery, clicking where it is needed will just use the item. If you
haven’t got it, you will get a message along the lines of “this door is
You can’t save at will, only at
save machines, but there are quite a few. I did backtrack though for
that very purpose, and your crafted locational map will help you find
them again. The game also autosaves when it accesses a new level.
There are plenty of settings you
can tweak through the menu, including choosing to play with items that
matter highlighted. I had it turned on, and things of interest glow. It
would have been a whole lot more playing hours with it off. I still
needed to open things and look in things, but those items in plain view
were easier to identify.
Your very useful inventory items
are accessible bottom left of screen, and bound to numbers 1 through 4
for quick access. Press tab to get the rest (and to craft). The map
(when you have crafted it) is bottom right in close up, or push whatever
key you have bound it to and it will display in full at the centre of
screen. I did use it a lot for getting around, as it shows access points
and other helpful things.
The story is mad scientist gone
even madder, and was probably the low point for me. I much preferred the
exploration and activity to the tale. The end didn’t help, being a
cutscene of much exposition delivered by said giggly maniacal mad
scientist, but I really didn’t care. The sixteen or so hours that had
gone before had been more than sufficient return for my attention.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz
RAM: 32GB GDDR5
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 470 8192MB
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