Blind Review A sight to behold, or a sight for sore eyes?

Articles PlayStation 4 PlayStation 4 Pro PlayStation VR Review

This product was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 with PlayStation VR, and is also available for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Open Source Virtual Reality. A code was provided for review purposes.

Note: Two PlayStation Move controllers were used during this play through of Blind.

Overview

Blind is a narrative-driven psychological thriller created from the ground up for Virtual Reality. You take the role of Jean, a young woman who is traveling with her younger brother Scott. While driving through intense weather conditions, events send their vehicle spiraling out of control. Jean awakes in a house, not knowing how she got there, and comes to a startling realization: she cannot see. With only a mysterious voice to guide her, she sets out to escape the house, and find her brother.

Gameplay

Upon awaking in the house, Jean quickly realizes she isn’t just shrouded in darkness. She has been robbed of her sight. It’s up to you to navigate, relying on your ears, rather than your eyes. Dropping or throwing various items makes a sound, which temporarily illuminates the area of impact, which increases depending on strength. Adapting to this is mandatory if you wish to escape this house. After navigating into the next room, you’ll happen upon a gramophone record player, with a deep voice speaking through it. The voice makes it clear: your brother Scott is not in the house with you, and the only way to escape is to navigate the house, and solve the puzzles.

Using the PlayStation Move controllers to navigate is fairly simple. Grabbing with either hand is done by pulling the appropriate trigger The controller in your left hand will allow you to walk forward or backward with the Square and X buttons, respectively. Using the right controller, you can turn your facing direction by using X, Square, or Triangle, or crouch by using Circle. I appreciate the inclusion of the crouch button. Due to the limited tracking of PlayStation VR, picking up objects on the ground can sometimes be frustrating in some games. A dedicated crouch button serves nicely to negate that frustration. The Triangle button on the left controller serves as a Menu button, which can be navigated using the same buttons noted before. This menu included a handy “Respawn Key Objects” option, which is nice, if you accidentally drop something you need out of reach, or can’t seem to find it at all. It returns anything you need to progress to its default position.

Solve the first puzzle of the house will grant you access to the Main Hall, where you’ll be confronted face-to-face by your captor. This masked figure offers you a cane to aid you on your journey. Using the cane(the Move button on either controller), or by throwing nearby objects, you can light up an area for a short time, and learn your surroundings. Blind does an excellent job of utilizing these visuals, and the atmosphere it creates. You’ll find yourself habitually tapping your cane or throwing objects to maintain your sense of “sight”. It creates a unique sense of urgency when exploring a new room. Some rooms have objects such as a grandfather clock, which constantly ticks. The sound of the ticks give off flickers of “light”, serving as navigational assistance. Even with ambient sounds and your trusty cane, though, you never truly feel safe, and that’s an amazing feeling to be captured.

Traversal of the house leads to familiarity. Jean has been here before, but her memory is fragmented. Entering a new room, looking at certain items, or solving a puzzle will sometimes trigger new memories. Shake off the tense nature of being robbed of your sight, and you’ll unravel all of the mysteries Blind has to offer. If you seek more answers, and are willing to navigate your dark environment, jewels are hidden all throughout the house. Grabbing and holding one of these jewels, which serve as a sort of collectible, will trigger memories. All of this woven together leads to a well presented narrative, with a couple of surprise twists thrown in.

Blind offers around 5 to 8 hours of game play for a first run. Knowledge of the environment and its puzzles would likely cut down that run time, but it’s more than enough for the asking price. The narrative is intriguing and suspenseful. The puzzles, I feel, are aptly challenging, but not enough that they’re frustrating. Often times, the solution is simple, while at other times, you’ll need to put some thought into your approach. Learn to rely on the sounds around you, and you’ll never feel that anything is too hard to solve. The answer is usually right in front of you, but obscured enough to make you explore and try everything. It’s a nice balance that many games with puzzle elements fail to achieve.

While there are some minor issues with tracking, as many PlayStation VR games have, it never serves to your detriment. It’s less about the game’s ability to track well, and more about the limited tracking of PlayStation VR. Usage of the crouch button serves nicely to alleviate some of these issues, though. The biggest flaw, in my opinion, is the lack of an option for Smooth Turning. The inclusion of a smooth turn would have made an already remarkable experience more immersive.

Graphics/Sound

Visually, Blind won’t be something you’ll brag to your friends about. Without using sound, everything is purely black, save for items such as musical instruments, gramophones, grandfather clocks, or even open windows giving off sound and creating pulses of light. All light is represented as white radius pulsing. This doesn’t serve to hurt the experience at all, though. Given the nature and game play elements, it makes perfect sense for the game to be visually impaired, and adds to an already eerie experience.

The sounds of Blind is where the game truly shines. Pun intended. From the impact of your cane or household objects against your surroundings, to the sound of wind blowing through an open window, the sound serves to both help and hinder you. Entering a new area and hearing a new sound will, at times, send a chill down your spine, purely from the “unknown” factor. You’ll find yourself wanting to familiarize yourself with the sources of these sounds quickly, to put your mind at ease. I applaud the developers for their utilization of the sound in Blind. It creates an experience that is equal parts alarming and unsettling, yet oddly peaceful.

Summary

Blind touches on an interesting concept, not often explored in gaming. While there are other examples, I feel this game sets itself apart from the rest with it’s near-perfect utilization of sound, puzzle mechanics, and storytelling, which create an immersive, enthralling experience. Blind simultaneously draws you in with an intense narrative, and sends a chill down your spine with ambience.

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Blind

$24.99
8.6

Gameplay

9.0/10

Graphics

7.5/10

Sound

9.5/10

Performance

8.5/10

Pros

  • Impeccable sound design
  • Thrilling and engaging narrative
  • Great variety of puzzles
  • Appropriately challenging

Cons

  • Subpar voice acting
  • No option for Smooth Turning

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