begins as a young couple, Case and Dawn, awaken in their pitch black
Boston apartment. The flashlight doesn't work and Case goes in search of
matches, eventually encountering something loud and murderous in the hall
outside the apartment. The mystery deepens as Case and Dawn realize that
parts of the city street are now strewn with rubble and everything around
them is completely dark.
Not Seeing is Believing
BlindSide is an innovative auditory adventure
which can be played with your eyes firmly shut. It's the first episode in
a series by a new developer -- epicycle, llc. (Disclaimer -- a member of
the development team is a family friend.)
The gameworld in BlindSide is made up entirely
of sounds, among them: voices, footsteps, creaks, drips, hisses, and
scraping noises. The best sound effects come from the violent creatures
that have descended upon Boston. Their throaty growls and snorts have a
resonance that rattled my computer's subwoofer.
In other games, awareness of ambient audio is often
only subliminal. The stimulation of the visuals in other games -- tableaux
and puzzles -- tends to distract from the auditory intricacies. In
BlindSide, the opportunity to focus entirely on the soundscape is very
A Tragic and Fateful Night
Story elements are expressed through dialogs without
subtitles. The dialogs can be "clicked through" by pressing an arrow key.
Late in the game, the story progresses in an unexpected direction, and the
ending leaves the gamer guessing as to how the final discovery will
influence later episodes. Dialogs are well written and well voiced,
sometimes fitting into the dramatic tradition of horror stories, and other
times morphing into amusing (if occasionally campy) banter. The equivalent
of cutscenes takes place while gameplay is paused -- electronic music
plays, and the characters discuss the destructive forces around them and
try to figure out how to survive.
There are only two on-screen visuals -- a compass
revealing cardinal directions and a design that lights up to confirm that
you've pressed an arrow key. Pressing the "C" key toggles between the two.
You move through the gameworld using the keyboard. The game should be
played with a good pair of headphones, so that you can recognize sound
direction (left, right, in front, or behind you).
What Lies Within
BlindSide contains no traditional inventory or
puzzles. Case picks up and carries only one item that can be used. The
game's main challenge is navigating toward a series of stated locations
using sound cues, while avoiding or working your way around obstacles like
benches, walls, railings, and subway cars. A "typical" challenge is moving
through a pitch black ballroom, heading toward the sound of a steam
radiator and a radio playing classical music, while monsters sleep,
huddled on the floor, poised for a misstep that might awaken them.
This game is surprisingly difficult, especially if
(like me) you don't have a good "real world" sense of direction. The
environments are maze-like, though of course the boundaries of the maze
can't be seen -- you bump up against them in the dark. Doors can be hard
to open -- occasionally I needed to re-approach a door from a slightly
different angle before I could get through it. Two timed challenges were
Under my inept guidance, Case and Dawn died hundreds
of times before completing the adventure. (The game brings you back to the
beginning of the challenge to try again.) The "H" key provides hints --
usually the general direction in which you should be heading. Without the
faithful "H" key, I would not have finished the game.
If you have a good sense of direction or a knack for
land navigation -- plus good ears and quick reflexes -- this episode can
be completed in two to three hours. It took me almost seven.
Quick List for BlindSide
This is the first episode of an unusual horror
adventure series, featuring a rich auditory gameworld in which the player
character is completely blind. Good voiceovers, a twisty horror story with
a cliffhanger ending. The only visuals are menu-like navigation aids.
Challenges involve using the keyboard to navigate
rooms and streets full of obstacles, using only sounds and auditory cues.
Two timed challenges. No sliding tile puzzles, no sound matching, no need
to distinguish colors. You die frequently; the game returns you to the
point before death to try again. The hint system helps with navigation.
Dialogs can be clicked through; no subtitles. Spicy
language. The language and horror themes render this a game inappropriate
No problems with installation; no glitches. Length of
gameplay will vary widely depending on the sharpness of your ears and the
strength of your sense of direction. Average length is about three hours.
This is a difficult game to grade because no other
adventure game out there is similar. It's like judging a radio drama when
all you've experienced in the past are film dramas. A successful
integration of chosen constraints, its lively creativity provides a
memorable gaming experience.
BlindSide is aimed at horror fans and gamers
who enjoy an innovative story and gameplay premise. It's available via
GameBoomers Review Guidelines