Blind’s premise is hugely intriguing, it takes away VR’s primary hook: visual immersion. It’s a daring move with a lot of potential, and during the first moments of Blind this potential is realised, but soon after a mechanic is introduced, which quickly ruins the whole concept, that paired with some poor puzzles makes the experience an initially interesting one, but ultimately an unmemorable one.
It starts off so promising. An intriguing narrative begins to unfold regarding a car accident, yours and your brother’s abductions, and a mysterious antagonist. It places you in an unfamiliar mansion with your sight gone, and tasks you with solving puzzles in an attempt to escape this mansion and find your brother.
However, you’re not completely blind. By throwing objects or otherwise making noise, the mansion is revealed to you through a form of echolocation, not dissimilar to superhero Daredevil’s way of seeing. Initially this leads to interesting interactions with the world as you move amongst the dark through audio alone, then throw objects around to create these ripples revealing monochromatic details of objects around you. It gives Blind a neat visual identity that makes it stand out, and it manages some technical wizardry too, presenting you with detailed objects, a rarity in VR, thanks to the engine not having to worry about textures and colour.
But then you find a walking stick, and this marvellous journey of limited sight and manipulating the environment to see it, falls by the way side. Tapping your walking stick makes noise and therefore ripples through the environment granting you some visibility, and it utterly destroys the premise of being blind. Now the environment no longer needs to be manipulated to create sound when you can get by just fine with your stick. Furthermore, the puzzles are largely generic, clichéd. visual puzzles; you place objects in a particular order, activating hidden switches, placing cogs in machines; entirely visual puzzles that feel incongruous with the proposed experience.
It’s not all bad, though, there are some genuinely interesting puzzles amongst the handful on offer in this short experience, including a maze puzzle that really stands out as clever. Meanwhile, the narrative is engaging and well-told. It does enough to keep you playing, just to see what will happen in the end. However, the whole experience wraps up in 2-3 hours, depending on general ham-handedness when it comes to solving the puzzles, and during this time Blind certainly hints at good ideas, just ones that are poorly implemented.
Speaking of which, the Move controls are absolutely terrible. This feels more like a problem with the hardware more so than the game, with the lack of analogue sticks on the Move controllers making moving around the environment in Blind a confusing mashing of buttons. Fortunately, the DUALSHOCK 4 is also supported and works much better, although this does hurt your immersion a fair bit and still has some issues with confusing button configurations, in particular the additional pause button.
Indeed, Blind’s premise is terrific, and when it comes together in moments of interesting environmental discovery, or in one of the few clever puzzles, it really shines, but it burns out all too quickly and is marred by poor Move controls, mundane puzzles making up the majority, and incongruity between the concept and the execution. However, strong 3D audio and fantastic music makes a good impression, and the narrative itself is worth experiencing.
Thanks to Wonacott PR for supporting Thumbstix