Everything is black. A voice speaks to you, gradually a woman appears and the world starts to come into focus. You’re in a hospital bed, no idea who or where you are, and no recollection of how you got there. Currently you know three things: The woman is an AI, you’re running out of oxygen, and you don’t have much time…so she says.
The Mind’s Eclipse is an interactive visual novel in which you must explore your surroundings to piece together a story shrouded in mystery. As you move through the deserted areas, which the demo allows you to investigate with your AI companion it becomes very clear that something horrible has happened here, but what? Who are you? Why is everyone else dead? And what is the Eclipse? By interacting with computer terminals, and the deceased via an implanted chip (or BOSy implant), you can begin to find some answers. However, your immediate priority is to escape your current environment before the oxygen runs out.
Although the demo is only around 10-15 minutes worth of gameplay and covers only 2 main areas, it packs in a lot of information. I found myself completely drawn in to the world unfolding before me. With an underlying theme of VR hinted at throughout, the story seems scarily relevant to current events. The sketchy art style and unobtrusive but atmospheric music add to the sense of foreboding and suspense that immediately left me wanting more.
Interacting with the world around you is integrated nicely into the art-style, with interactive elements becoming pixelated when hovered over. Clicking on a pixelated object triggers a dialog or an event to occur (for example, picking something up or interfacing with it). Collected items are stored in your inventory to use later. Interfacing with terminals and other people displays an email inbox style display, each with a few messages to read through. Using items is simple (drag and drop from inventory onto target) and is explained nicely and moving is done using a map which is simple and easy to use, however it would have been useful to be able to move back through rooms you have already visited more than one room at a time.
It would have been nice to have been given more subtle hints at the intentions of the AI accompanying you, as the clues you find in the demo are very in-your-face. This may well be an intentional move, designed to cast suspicion early on for reasons which would be made clear later in the full game, or it may be a way to get a plot point across quickly in such a short demo, however the clues did not seem to fit with the subtle nature of the rest of the gameplay, and took away from the suspenseful nature which is the game’s best feature, and a major selling point. It will be interesting to see whether this is adjusted as the game is developed further.
The Mind’s Eclipse has just been Greenlit by the Steam Community and I’m very much looking forward to tracking their progress as they turn this demo into a full game. Until then, you can play the demo yourself at https://themindseclipse.itch.io/the-minds-eclipse