Minus some really interesting works of art, games usually fall nicely into a niche for virtual reality. However, that doesn’t make them bad or cliché. Because of that I expressed interest in handling the Blind review for Pure PlayStation. Sure the concept of using your ears and echos to move around isn’t new, but on the PSVR? I couldn’t pass that up. While a tinge of regret has found a place in me, puzzle gamers will enjoy what’s on offer here. Even if the puzzle gameplay can be incredibly obscure.
Blind picks up with main character, Jean, and her little brother, Scott, speeding away in a car on a dark, stormy night. The younger sibling bemoans how he wants to go back home only to be comforted that everything will be alright. Suddenly, a being appears in the middle of the road and causes a deadly crash. An undetermined amount of time later Jean wakes up in a mysterious mansion and learns that her eyesight and brother are missing in action. She discovers that her “sight” now comes from echolocation and must navigate this house of strangeness and familiarity with it.
Now if you were like me dear reader, you’re probably still imagining these two characters are Cyclops and Jean Gray from X-Men. Let me assure you my imagination was hampered within the first thirty minutes. Blind’s story gets very deep and dark on Jean’s sightless adventure and trip down memory lane. Not only is her isolated escape from the mansion on your mind, but flashbacks and recreations paint an unhappy family life for our heroine. By extension, it’s also not hard to see metaphors or what’s really going on in Blind. This still won’t take away from the drama the developers build up though.
Gameplay in terms of maneuverability is through the echolocation I mentioned earlier. Anything that can produce a sound, except footsteps for some reason, will light up your surrounding area giving you a picture of what’s around you. Blind will provide you with music or other sound creating machines along the journey, but Jean will receive a walking cane pretty early on. Using this will create an echo to help see whenever you want. Just don’t try using it too much at once as for some reason it damages our main character. Keeping with the echolocation gimmick, the entire game will be in black and white with some greyscale.
How will you be using this echolocation to escape the manor you ask? Puzzles. Lots and lots of goddamn puzzles. They can be as simple as listening for an audio cue to tell you where to find something or gather certain objects in order to find a solution. The solution usually being doors unlocking and offering you key items to move to another part of the mansion. While mostly diverse in the puzzle implementation, I’d be lying if I said most of them were easy. A ton of them were incredibly obscure that left me feeling frustrated until some inner monologue from Jean gave me just enough of a hint to move on. Take away the vague hints provided and Blind does not hold your hand and throws you in the dark. Heh, see what I did there? Bad jokes aside this puzzle solving hell can last you anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on how adept you are.
Naturally, since Blind is a PSVR title you can play with a DualShock 4 or the PlayStation Move controllers. Now normally I prefer the Move peripherals if the game offers it. Sadly, they were not implemented well here. Movement was confusingly mapped as the left Move’s square and x button controlled forwards and backwards. The right Move’s x and triangle button controlled the right rotation and the square controlled the left. O yea, there’s no smooth turn options in the game either from what I could gather. Using this setup made walking in any direction for more than five feet a chore. Grabbing things was also a bit of a nuisance, but luckily you can reset key items to their previous places. The DualShock 4 controls were better mapped and put the focus of your actions on the PSVR itself. It just felt better looking at things with your head and pushing a button on a controller you know is well mapped. This is especially true when you try opening things with the Moves. Added on frustration if anything.
Lastly, considering the game’s graphic style, voice acting would need to pick up the slack and pick up the slack it did. The voice actors/actresses did an amazing job capturing their characters and the tone needed to convey that deep and dark stuff I mentioned earlier. This was very prevalent in recordings you pick up. Unfortunately, they don’t help with the title’s shortcomings.
Blind PSVR Review
Blind is a VR puzzler with a shtick that’s been done before but offers inventive, if not frustrating, puzzles with a dark, emotional story. The echolocation gameplay will often hinder the player than help and I’m not lying about the puzzles being obscure. Puzzle gamers will be more than at home here yet I can’t see much more to others. If you’re like me and too many thought challenges mean a not fun time, Blind won’t change your mind.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.