Blindside

  • Type: Adventure
  • Developer: Epicycle
  • Platform: PC, Mac, iOS
  • Release Date: June 2012
  • Version Reviewed: PC
  • Requires: Headphones
  • (Available on Desura)

“Are you STUPID??!! Don’t go down there! It’s dark!!!!”

Yeah, I’ve screamed that at the screen many times. But in Blindside, you don’t really have a choice.

This may seem slightly out of order for a game review, but lets start with the graphics… There are none!

Ok, this is a little misleading. There are, but they look like this.

Blindside

That is it. That’s all you get. The reason for this is that, in Blindside, you are blind. Or it’s all gone dark, or something.

In the first 2 minutes of the game you discover that the lights aren’t working. Neither is your torch, or… um… matches. Oh, they sound like they are lighting, but it didn’t stop me smacking my shins on the coffee table or head butting the TV. And shortly after that, you discover that there are some slavering beasties that don’t seem to have a problem with ripping apart your (also recently visually impaired) neighbours.

So here we have our premise. It is down to heroic you, to save your (not at all whiny) girlfriend from unknown beasties, whilst not being able to see shit. And one of the most innovative computer games I have played in a long time.

You can’t see anything, so there is nothing to see. It is all done by sound. The hiss of the static on the TV and the ticking clock are all you have to orient yourself. You stumble around your flat, bumping into furniture (as we have all done on a Friday night, with the lights on), trying to find your way to the kitchen. It’s a bit bizarre, and really not easy. But it’s different and strangely engrossing. Before long you have your first encounter with the slavering beasties. This was actually really quite scary. It was close and snacking on your unfortunate neighbour… But (of course) you can’t see it. You’ve got to sneak away. You WANT to sneak away. But which way is away??!! My heart was actually pumping away as I quietly spun on the spot to make sure I didn’t tip-toe into it’s waiting jaws, which I had no doubt were big and held many pointy teeth.

Many good horror films rely upon what you can see. Many great horror films rely upon what you can’t. In this game you can see absolutely nothing. It is more like an interactive radio play. I know! What? How?! But it (mostly) works.

This is both good and bad. I have a vivid and immersive imagination. When reading a book I can create the world I cannot see. And as such I managed to create the atmosphere that this game is aiming towards. But I can see it falling flat for many people. The controls are a complete bugger. Turning left and right are both good things. But not knowing how fast you are turning, or which way you were facing beforehand makes it pretty much guesswork. A bit like suddenly finding yourself blind, I’d guess. Try playing it without the compass… I dare you.

In many low budget, indie films you (if you are anything like me) have probably been mildly irritated by the stars and/or supporting cast. Same here. Our hero is often a little cryptic about where we should be going. His girlfriend would probably have been abandoned if I knew her in real life (I’m not a tolerant person, and she couldn’t help me look for the bloody matches??!! Ok, this may be a bit harsh. But I had bruised shins, a lump forming on my forehead and was mildly perturbed that I couldn’t see diddly. And she sat on the bed being particularly unhelpful! And before you know it, she’s all gung ho… On your behalf!).

But this, and the mildly clunky feel of the navigation, are not enough to write this game off. For its innovation alone I would give it top marks. For the atmosphere (which swings wildly between tense and confused), it also gets a high score. Where it falls down is its wide ranging appeal. It’s not a fast paced shooter or a deep and engaging strategy game. It is slow, and relies almost entirely on your patience and ability to immerse yourself in a world only hinted at. If you can do this, it is rewarding and hugely different. Hell, that is what it is aiming at. And in this respect, it pretty much hits it mark.

I have a huge amount of respect for the game. And for the developers for having the balls (and insight… although that may be the wrong word, as their aim was to create a game that the sighted and blind could enjoy equally) to come up with and release something so innovative and seriously atmospheric.

And for less than the cost of a pint? Can you really complain?

[Note: For those of you who have not come across Desura before, it's like Steam. An online refectory of games to buy, download and play. Google 'Desura' to find it.]

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

2 Comments on “Blindside”

  1. Matt Blythe says:

    Yeah, that Amazon link is an automated myth. You won’t find it there.

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