Virtual Reality is perfect for those of us who want to experience things we could never dream of doing. Such as venturing through magical lands, taking down hordes of zombies, and even watching on as a loveable mouse goes on an adventure. However, what if we flip that and use our PSVR headsets in order to experience something nobody would ever dream of, such as waking up blind? That’s what Tiny Bull Studios and Fellow Traveller have brought to us in the form of Blind which is out now on PS4 and PC for VR headset owners.
Blind has a purposely vague introduction which leaves you with a lot of questions that will be running through your head for the majority of the game. We begin with an introduction made up of a multi-layered image in VR which has a parallax look to it as you curiously wobble your head. We see a young girl and her younger brother in a car as they are speeding away from something, something we aren’t told about. All we know is that she is trying to get away from someone, or something. Suddenly, a figure dramatically appears in front of the vehicle as the raindrops display the outline of a person. The girl swerves and crashes as everything fades to black…
Upon her awakening, we find out that we are now the young girl yet with one major disadvantage – we can no longer see with our eyes. However, we can see our bright, white hands (for some reason) and we have a sort-of Daredevil ability in which we can visualise the soundwaves around us. Using this incredible power, which I don’t believe blind people actually possess, you must work your way through the creepy house you’ve been locked in as you search for your brother and find a way out.
Blind is full of puzzles, collectables, ghostly memories, and even a few unintentional spooks! It had a few issues with trophies, which were resolved after a quick email from myself to the developers, and so – I sat down for five hours straight and refused to stop playing until I had completed the game. I refused because I wanted to know what was going on and get to the bottom of things. I was hooked from the moment I obtained my white cane and was free to explore the various rooms and memories. I believe you too will become hooked by the game, let me explain why…
Going in Blind…
Blind is simply fantastic. Sure, I’ve seen some critics talk about how they don’t see what being blind has to do with certain puzzles or situations – to them, I would say they haven’t played it through to the end or they don’t actually understand what’s going on. I believe blind people don’t have the ability to see the sound waves bounced off the objects around them as you throw things around, but I can tell you now – having this mechanic is a million times better (as a game) than having you walk around in pure darkness for the whole game as you’re unable to see anything.
With that out of the way – controls are more than perfect! You use both Move controllers and you can pick up most things by using the triggers on either. Movement is operated as such: walk Forward/Backwards is Square and Cross on the left controller and rotate Left and Right is Square and Triangle on the Right controller. Walking forwards basically has you walking where you look, so if you opt to stand, you can turn around and press Square to walk in the direction you’re facing. Blind also has a button for Crouch – which you’ll be using a lot to pick up objects you drop.
**Update to the controls, as a few people have asked about this. You can use either the DS4 or Move Controllers to navigate around. The Move Controllers give you access to both hands, so you can carry two things, and you are more immersed in the world. Using the DS4, you can only pick up one thing at a time but you do have smoother motion with the ability to now strafe. Both methods utilise snap turning based on the clock face – so 12 rotations until you return back to where you began. There are no blinders, as far as I could see, only a 16:9 border appears when you initiate a ‘cut-scene’. I thought this was to make the event more dramatic, but it could also be so you know you can’t move because you’re in a cut-scene at the moment? Either way – it doesn’t impact the game as the borders go away once you regain control.**
One of the most useful features and one which I wish all VR interactive games would have is the option to reset key items. I play sat down, due to my back, so if I drop something in VR then it’s usually quite hard to pick it up. Even the crouch option didn’t help me the majority of the time if it was a small item due to how my camera is positioned. However, there is an option to reset key items which leaves all the non-important stuff on the floor where I threw them yet the things I need are back on the shelf/table/stand. This is simply amazing and I’m surprised other developers haven’t used the same option in their games. I just wanted to say a big “THANK YOU” to whoever decided to put this in the options menu.
I briefly mentioned your white cane above – this is going to be your main ability to see for the majority of the game. The harder you hit things with the cane (by holding down the ‘move’ button on either controller), the further the soundwaves go and the more you’ll see. Over-do it though and you’ll be temporarily ‘blinded’ by white noise and be unable to see anything (once again). You can opt to throw objects for the same effect or use another item which you obtain later in the game, but the main thing you’ll use is your trusty cane.
Visions from the past:
As you explore the house you’ve been locked away in, you’ll begin to ‘see’ how much it resembles your own house. As such, you’ll travel through various wings of the building as you uncover horrific memories and suppressed thoughts of what had gone on between your mother, father and brother. These memories are strange as they contain new information which our protagonist never knew about, so just how were these thoughts and conversations manifesting before her and who is making them appear? Blind isn’t a scary game, it has no intentional jump scares and there is no need to walk around cautiously as you await the next loud ‘Boom’ and something to jump on you – it’s a psychological thriller which plays with your emotions to fear and uneasiness.
As such, the ghostly figures you see appearing won’t actually scare you (apart from the one time I turned and had one of them shouting in my face due to my current position), they’ll just materialise out of smoke and remain static whilst they have their say before appearing somewhere else. I thought this was really well done and the things that were going on behind closed doors were quite disturbing at times and I can totally see why the story went in the direction it did.
You can also uncover more of the lore and story by finding all of the collectables (the one thing I’ve not done yet). These come in the form of crystals which recalls a saying or a few lines from family members past, Radio Signals and trying to phone for help. These seemingly random things all link to the actual reason for you being there. This is why I feel those who question the overall concept may not have actually played the game to the end credits as everything all comes together and has a purpose – nothing is by random or chance.
I can do this with my eyes closed!
One of the main things which drew me to Blind was the fact that it’s a puzzle game in VR where you can only see through the use of sound waves. I’ve played many puzzle games, but this seemed so unique and interesting that I couldn’t say no. The puzzles themselves are all well thought out and rather clever, although some of them are very easy. A lot of them work off sound but some of them just require you to create soundwaves so you can ‘see’ what you’re doing. Either way, even though a few of them don’t use the ‘blindness’ mechanic as much as they should, they were still fun to work out and play through.
For example, at one point you have to fit a load of cogs in the back of a machine in order to make it work again. Once the cogs are moving, you can ‘see’ them as they spin and make noises, but in order to place them, you just have to hit something so you can see where you can put them in the device. Flip that and look at the water pipes puzzle, in that one you basically hear the water rushing through the pipes behind the wall and you must place valves on the wall in the right place to focus the stream to one point. The second puzzle clearly uses your blind powers more than the first one, but both were still enjoyable as a puzzle.
I will admit though, I did ‘guess’ a few of the solutions for various puzzles as I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. This only happened for two puzzles and I think it’s because I’m too impatient and didn’t look around enough for clues as to what I’m doing. The other puzzles were all simple enough though and I didn’t really get stuck on anything other than working out where I had to go next – oh, and trying to find something near the end of the game with my ‘friend’.
I never saw this coming!
There is one thing I didn’t like about the game, something I won’t get too into as I clearly don’t want to spoil anything for you. I didn’t like the final ‘chapter’. After completing the game, I can kind of see what it was representing and how it all works together as a whole. But whilst playing it, I really didn’t enjoy it as much as I had done with the various wings in the house up until this point as it felt out of place and a bit ‘too different’. This was pretty much the only thing I couldn’t get my head around until I had finished the game as everything else up until this point has been very narrative and factually based. Either way – Blind is still a great game, just an unusual design choice for the final section.
Visually, Blind is up there as one of the best looking VR games on the PS4. When you boot up the game on the PS4 Pro, the message for Super Sampling pops up. So it seems it’s rendering it above native resolution before downsampling it – which is always nice – and I experienced no ghosting (other than the intentional ghost memories :P) or visual issues. It looked amazing and I could easily read everything I saw within the surreal world. The whole game is played in black and white, with a hint of colour towards the end in a certain puzzle. The contrast between the two works really well and the whole ‘Daredevil’ vision works perfectly. I would strongly recommend all VR owners buy this game purely to experience the masterpiece Tiny Bull Studios have pulled off!
Soundwise, Blind is once again up there with the best. As you’re a visually impaired protagonist, one of your strengths is your hearing. As such, pop on some headphones and you’ll hear things all around you as you hear someone walking behind you, windchimes blowing in the distance, the sound of a distant radio in the darkness, or even the dripping of water from a leaky roof. I would have to say that not all of the voice acting was on the same level. Some characters sounded like they were being acted out with more emotion than the others and some sounded a little too flat at points – but I would say 90% of the time the voices were brilliant.
Go buy this game now if you have VR on the PlayStation 4 or PC. That’s all I need to say really. I’ve been awaiting this games release for a number of years now since I first heard about it back in 2016 when randomly browsing the internet. I thought the game had been silently cancelled as I heard nothing for ages until I saw it pop back up again a few months ago. Sure, there is another game, with similar mechanics, out at the moment in ‘flat vision’ on the PC and consoles, but there is nothing quite like experiencing these mechanics in Virtual Reality.
People who have read my reviews before will know that I love my puzzle games, VR and narrative-driven games. Blind ticks all these boxes and more as you explore the house, uncover hidden memories, solve puzzles to recover objects and open doors, and also discover the truth behind who our captor is and why we are being held in this recreation of our family home. Clocking in at around four to six hours, depending on how quickly you work out the puzzles, Blind is well worth it’s asking price and offers an experience you won’t get with any other VR game currently on the PlayStation 4, in my opinion.
Blind is a ‘must have’ game on both the PS4 and PC Virtual Reality headsets – the experience you’ll have is one of a kind. From the moment you don your headset and step into this surreal world filled with darkness and mystery, you’ll begin to become absorbed by both the visuals and the story as you embark on quite an emotional and ‘eye-opening’ experience. However, I would strongly advise you to play this game ‘blind’ (without watching others play it on YouTube) as it does get pretty ‘dark’ towards the end as you begin to ‘see’ exactly what’s going on. The ending is a little confusing and out of place but when you make it to the end, all will become clear.
Also, the logo for the game is really well done. It’s simplistic but I love how they have done it!
- Beautiful experience through 'soundvision' which you won't forget
- The puzzles are really well done and require a bit of thinking
- The 'reset key objects' option was an amazing idea for VR
- The soundtrack, ambient noises and voice acting are all great
- The game is full of suspense and excitement as you explore the house with only sounds to guide you
- The ending seems a little offset from the rest of the game (until you finish the game)
- Some puzzles don't really utilise the sound mechanic fully - although they are still good puzzles
- A few (2) puzzles had me guessing the answer as I coudln't make a connection to the right solution