Game review: The Eyes of Ara (Switch)
The Eyes of Ara is a first-person point and click puzzle game that was initially released in 2016 to Steam and mobile phones. The game was highly received by fans, which made it a really exciting Nintendo Switch port.
In The Eyes of Ara, you play as a technician who is sent out to a castle in order to investigate a strange broadcast signal that is affecting telecom devices for locals. We learn that the last owner of the castle has been gone for a while, which makes the entire thing more of a mystery.
The player must solve puzzles that unlock the entrances and exits of the castle, by going from room to room collecting hints and clues and investigating notes left behind from others who have been inside, before trying to piece the whole thing together.
The puzzles in The Eyes of Ara are what made the game popular on other platforms. The puzzles vary in difficulty from easy, straightforward puzzles to ones that extend across multiple rooms and make you want to use a walkthrough guide. The difficulty gradually increases the deeper you go into the castle.
Some puzzles require you to notice a pattern or two on the wall and then put them together, which feels quite rewarding. Others are bit trickier with answers placed on random collectibles. This resulted in some guessing, but that is the fun of puzzle games.
The game is designed really well, and the visuals are beautiful. The castle has lots of details put into it. Each room feels full of furniture and details. This keeps the game interesting, as you would have to click on many items trying to find the right one to press on.
Where it all goes wrong
Sadly, as exciting an amazing this girl is in concept, it wasn’t the greatest Nintendo Switch port. At its core, the game is a point and click thrives with a mobile touchscreen or a PC mouse, but the way the controls are adapted to the Switch is strange.
I like to play all my games in docked mode so that is how I first tried the game. In docked mode, you use the Joy Con as a pointer, so you have to move it around to click in different places.
The pointer is poorly calibrated which becomes stressful quickly. If you manage to master pointing the Joy Con at your TV, the next step is to be able to use that mechanic to solve puzzles. Some puzzles require you to twist and turn objects, which proved to be impossible to do in docked mode.
After cooling off for a couple of hours to get over the trauma of playing the game that way, I picked it up in handheld mode and it was a completely different experience. It felt so much better to be able to touch the screen and twist items and interact with them like the developers intended.
The Switch’s screen is quite small, and the game is designed in a way that doesn’t really tell you what items you can or can’t interact with. This meant that in some rooms, you end up trying to press every pixel on the small Switch screen trying to find the right item that will give you that clue you really need.
Overall, The Eyes of Ara is a great game with top notch puzzles. It is a great addition to the Nintendo Switch library if you exclusively play it in Handheld mode.