The age of VR is allowing developers to experiment with new and intriguing ideas, but Blind initially sounds like the exact opposite of what VR can provide. Tiny Bull Studios’s game explores blindness, removing your sense of sight, tasking you to rely on your other senses to find a way to escape a creepy mansion. Thankfully it’s not quite as brutalist as that sounds.
Players take on the role of Jean who, following a car accident, finds herself a prisoner within the a mansion, with a man in a mask saying if she stays there she’ll be safe. It’s a setup that could give a creepy psychological thriller vide, yet it fails to reach that potential opting for more of an escape room simulation with the added sight loss.
Obviously, if you couldn’t see anything in the game then it’d be very frustrating to play and you might as well just be wearing a blindfold. Instead, it visualises sounds, letting you tap a stick on the ground or throw things and reveals the outlines of objects through echolocation.Keep tapping away though, and the view becomes distorted and blooms brightly, which did irritate my own vision a bit and punishing the player for trying to see too much.
The way you make progress in Blind is by solving puzzles which let you escape from different rooms, with the idea being that if you complete them then you’ll be free. The puzzles themselves can vary wildly in difficulty. Some can be deciphered in moments while others take a bit more time scouring the environment for clues and thought. Some of the puzzle designs are pretty good, but others barely give a hint as to what you’re supposed to be doing.
The main feature of echolocation eventually becomes cumbersome. While a good idea, in theory, it becomes frustrating as you play due to the fact you can see the world most of the time anyway, and a lot of the puzzles don’t really take into account the loss of sight. Yes, you’re using sound as an identifier in some puzzles, but nothing would have changed in the majority of them had the echolocation been absent. There are only a couple of periods where blindness does have a major role, with these moments being a little tense and creepy.
The minimalist black and white design of the mansion in Blind is well crafted though. It gives off a great sense of scale from a large entrance hall and greenhouse area through to the smaller rooms and corridors you’ll need to explore. You can interact with a lot of the items in rooms though many don’t actually have anything to do with the puzzles, but as tools to use to get your bearings they’re okay. What isn’t so great is the voice acting, which veers from competent to hammy rather regularly. The main character has a rather monotone voice given her situation, while your captor’s outbursts of anger come across as very over the top and comedic rather than serious.
When it comes to interaction you have the choice of using the Move controllers for each hand or the Dualshock 4. If you are going to play Blind then use the Dualshock 4. It’s a lot more intuitive while you’ll fumble with the Move control inputs.
While the premise of using sound to traverse a mansion is great on paper in practice it eventually wears thin. The puzzles themselves aren’t too difficult, which could be a positive or negative depending on your view, and while the art style is great the story is far from interesting despite a set up that could have been used for a unique feeling thriller. If you are looking to play a puzzler for a few hours in VR then Blind could be worth a look at, but it’s far from an essential purchase.
Version tested: PSVR – Also available on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.