For a medium that immediately and powerful overwhelms your eyeballs, there is a surprising amount of content being created to explore blindness. From Notes on Blindness, a touching and beautifully narrated collection of short stories and Hotel Blind, to Stifled, a striking horror game in which you can only see by the use of sound (whether it be your own microphone or throwing objects in the game world) there’s some good content out there. But the upcoming VR exploration/puzzle hybrid adventure, Blind, is both aptly titled and cleverly produced.
At the start of the game the main character is in an awful car accident that seemingly renders her blind. You spend the first few moments feeling your way around a dark, lonely mansion (as in literally reaching out and patting surfaces to create reverberations so you can see where you’re going) until you finally come across a record player with a sophisticated, yet creepy, man’s voice coming out of it — directed at you.
Throughout the course of the game you’ll have to solve puzzles as you explore the sinister mansion in your quest to uncover what’s happened to you (and your brother) as well as how to get out.
Blind touches on a lot of subjects. Not only is it a poignant story of loss and loneliness, but it provides a creative simulation of what it might be like to live without sight if you had the ability of echolocation via a heightened sense of hearing — or basically how Daredevil can see what’s around him through the use of sound.
Not far into Blind you get a walking stick that can be used to tap on areas of the environment and create sound waves the erupt outward and echo across objects. It’s a satisfying visual to see the world light up around you in black and white and feels great to use. If you tap too frequently or loudly then the sounds can overwhelm you and ring in your ears while turning your environments into visual white noise.
I’ve obviously never had to deal with the complete loss of sight in my life so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the simulation, but from a gameplay perspective it works well. In Stifled you use a very similar tactic to explore environments in what amounts to essentially an elongated, survival-horror-themed game of hide-and-seek, but in the case of Blind, it’s mostly just a puzzle game.
That’s not to say that the sudden rumblings of thunder or unexpected noises didn’t make me jump from time to time, but Blind is very much not a horror game. It’s more aptly described as a dark, unsettling location for a series of loosely connected puzzles strung together by a serviceable narrative.
Visually, although minimal, Blind is gorgeous. It’s basically a black and white art style, but the way the sounds light up the environments and subtly flutter in and out of your sight is expertly crafted. Depending on the type of surface you tap with your cane — and how hard — the effect is different. I often found myself tapping as I walked along even if I knew the way just to watch the visuals unfold before me.
Even though the art style is quite different, Blind reminded me a bit of non-VR game Beyond Eyes and it desperately makes me want a game in this same style, but with bright, colorful visuals instead. Perhaps more colors are introduced as you get further into the story.
My favorite puzzle from the hour or so I spent inside the almost complete darkness involved a music-playing statue. When a music box was closed, the statue played a beautiful tune. When the box was opened, it stopped, but each of the five buttons inside the box could play an excerpt from the tune. I had to try and replicate the tune by pressing the buttons in the right order.
There were minimal visual clues about what to do and the game never explicitly told me that’s what the puzzle was. It actually made me feel intelligent once I finally solved it and I somehow got to the solution without ever getting overly frustrated.
Blind still doesn’t have a release date yet, but a representative of Tiny Bull did indicate that this is definitely slated for 2018 still. Originally they said Spring, but that’s clearly not the case anymore. According to Steam it will support both Rift and Vive and, previously, they indicated plans to bring it to PSVR eventually as well.
Let us know what you think of this one so far down in the comments below!