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Don't look here! Keep your eyes closed!

Good day!

Close your Eyes: Redux is a VX Ace game by AestheticGamer originally created in 2015 as a shorter game simply titled as Close Your Eyes for Ludum Dare 29, the Redux edition added new content to the game (anyway this is not the final version, the Close Your Eyes -Anniversary Remake- was released through Steam on the game's fifth anniversary in 2018. This version of the game is not free, but in addition to even more content, it has various unlockable "bonus modes", including a built-in version of its predecessor, Girl's Graveyard).
I don't want to call it a horror game, because it's more like a sort of dark and surreal mystery adventure with puzzle, I mean there is no "monster of the week" situation or abandoned haunted house or zombie infestation.
Uh, ok, so what's this game about?

Whoa, I may be creepy but the world itself looks creepy too!

Close your Eyes starts with a host called The Host (duh!) that is introducing the main character, a "contestant" named Marshmallow Monk (that looks like a marshmallow wearing monk robes) who is about to be hanged. But the protagonist is so lucky that the rope breaks and so he's able to flee into a surreal world. There are two different endings to the unreal surreal adventure of the little murderer, but I do not want to spoil the events or the characters he'll meet during the story (by the way there are just three important characters in the whole game! The protagonist, the Host, the Girl).

The game is, ad I wrote before, all about travelling, exploring and completing puzzles that usually consists in using deduction or solving riddles (it's interesting that most of these puzzles are symbolic, one of them for example consists in hanging a criminal... a deja vu, isn't it?). Nothing else, but this is a pretty short adventure: one hour is more than enough to see both endings, but you can probably finish the game in less time.

If gameplay is nothing special or new, I was really amazed by the art (I especially liked Marshmallow Monk sprite), since the game uses custom background and sprites, and even if most maps are quite minimalist and look a bit empty or lack details (anyway there is a reason for this), it's original enough to give character to the game. Anyway it's a pity that just some areas are clearly identifiable and clearly look clearly better than the stylized ones, but that's ok I guess. On the other hand there are also some non-animated cutscenes that tells the story explaining both what was happened before and what will happen next.
For what concerns music and sounds it's the same: the majority of the game is silent and contains no scares, creating an unnerving atmosphere, but then I was surprised to notice that instead the Girl is voiced! The music, where it is used, also feels fitting, but the voice acting was pretty great!

Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble. And if I stay it will be double!

Final Verdict
I liked the creativity of some artworks, the original story and bizarre setting, and some aspects of a game that starts like a story of mystery and later explains a lot of the background but not all! It's a surreal voyage in a dreamlike... or better, in a nightmarish world! A dark, creepy story with some cute moments (yes, there is a clash of different, contrasting moods in this game). If you are interested, the game in 2020 also spawned a sort of sequel/spin-off called "Feast Your Eyes: Little Marshmallow" (that apparently still uses a surreal visual style, but much more accurate and detailed), but for what concerns Close your Eyes: Redux I just can say that's a pretty nice little game, not your usual horror game with scary moments and chase scenes (besides that fact that is clear from the beginning that YOU are the villain!). One hour well spent, I guess!