The God of Crawling Eyes starts off well and just slides downward slowly. In the end, it’s a moderately fun very short game that doesn’t take advantage of its premise and has some gender issues.
The initial bit is really good. The game is in black and white because you’re a completely colorblind kid, but you just started medication to try to fix that. You’re a little worried about what might happen and what you might see.
So, naturally, all that happens is that you start seeing the color red right before the eviscerations start, so we can make it clear there’s blood everywhere, and then red is used to mark (most) of the plot-crucial items.
No question of if you’re hallucinating some or all of this stuff, no other colors that appear over the course of the game, no tie between the fact you’re taking medication to fix your eyes and a horrible Lovecraftian monster themed around eyes has appeared. At most, it comes up again in the bad end for the girl where you’re tricked into thinking you only dreamed her up, and that one’s full of plotholes given everyone else should remember she existed, there’s going to be an Amber alert just like for the last missing kid, and also surely he’d be suspicious given also all their classmates killed in that dream have also disappeared so apparently he’s been taking a class with no classmates at all except his friend.
The atmosphere starts out wonderfully. You start to see your first color, then the lights flicker and everyone is dead except you and your love interest (the only one wearing red – a connection???) and everything’s misty. Also, I checked out the vents to see if the character would note if the mist was coming from there, and find out I can open or close them. Maybe closing them would reduce the mist? And then suddenly there are random giant eyes opening on the walls CLOSING THEM WAS BAD AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH…huh. Character doesn’t acknowledge the eyes. No character mentions the eyes. Wait, is this one of the hallucinations we were worried about…no, character doesn’t seem concerned about that either, and everything relevant is confirmed by other people mentioning it or the fact it must be real because it kills you. Eyes don’t seem to do anything. Eyes are just random images there to be scary, which wears out fast when they’re so blatant and there for most of the game while doing nothing at all. The game could’ve had more restrained atmosphere and been scarier for it. There’s no real lore about the monster, either – there’s these eye-snakes that wiggle sometimes when you enter a room then disappear, and the eyes on the wall, and at the end you see the God of Crawling Eyes as a giant eye on a gianter monster. Nothing is really done to make the elements into a scary whole.
The actual monsters you see aren’t especially eye-based, either. There’s a shadow monster in the principal’s room you have to drive away, and a shadow in place of your reflection half the time that’ll kill you if you try to use the sink. The eye stuff is limited to weird stuff you can’t interact with. Your love interest does scream at the eye worm initially but nothing comes of it, and apparently doesn’t see the eyes at all.
The rest of the game is just collect items, solve unintuitive puzzle while other characters just repeat their one line of dialogue because you can’t tell them about your plan and get a clue from them, solve another puzzle by manipulating a bit of your environment you couldn’t effect prior to that, pick which person lives, get good/bad ending based on if you were close to them. I was particularly disappointed that the chlorine gas + vents didn’t have any bearing on the story – instead, there’s a second monster that appears to automatically kill whoever is in the room you don’t pick, so if you don’t bother to close their vent originally, doesn’t matter.
There’s an interesting feature where it won’t let you save when you want to, but I actually felt it didn’t go far enough. The save prompts just warned me something bad was about to happen, removing the surprise, and they happened often enough, and the game was easy enough, that I would poke all the dangers anyway because I’d just saved, right? Plus, the game is designed so that you can save after the end, unlock the associated extra, then keep going to get the rest of the ends, but in practice, one of the saves is right before you pick which person you want to save, and that means you can see the second ending if you just reset instead. I think making it so you can’t save at all until after the ending might have been better – there’s no benefit to poking any of the obvious dangers, and the two puzzles that do require a bit of trial and error could’ve easily been tweaked to not have that (there is no reason why you can’t flood the room with gas and then reopen the ventilation so it empties again, and the file cabinets should’ve been flagged as movable from the very start).
The game’s a bit misogynistic. In the opening, the main character talks to a girl he likes, and she mentions that her friend is creeped out by his friend because he was staring at her when she came out of the bathroom. If the main character says his friend isn’t a bad guy, and she quickly says that her friend was probably exaggerating and is just a gossip anyway. Then he has class with a teacher who just seems a bit strict, but his friend refers to her as a bitch when they meet in the hallways. The principal doesn’t use those words, but doesn’t seem to think too much of her either. The love interest girl then spends the entire game cowering in a room begging you not to leave or screaming when a tiny monster appears. If you get her good ending, she calls the teacher a bitch again. Get her bad ending by not showing much interest in her in the game and…she throws herself at you for no reason, then for some reason that means she’s picked for the sacrifice and she dies and you’re convinced she never existed in the first place. Virgin/whore indeed. And no, the fact the good ending has her turn into an action hero out of nowhere doesn’t matter after spending the whole game being a whimpering coward who can’t take any actions on her own.
It is really short once you’ve solved the puzzles, so it’s pretty easy to get all the endings, and I liked the conversation bits. But overall, there’s just not enough here.