[NSFW] Blindside (iPad)

[NSFW] Blindside (iPad)

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This review would have been done earlier, but my wife decided she needed to read the entire 50 Shades of Gray series on the iPad. Lord knows I wasn’t about to interrupt THAT. For whoever knows what I’m talking about, virtual high five! For every other straight male reader, get your significant other a copy. You will thank me. (I accept PayPal.)

Blindside—ah yes. This game may have the most unique graphics of any game I have ever played. Here’s a screenshot:

black

See it?

No?

…Is it just a blank screen?

There is one little fact about the mechanics of this game that I should mention: There are no visuals whatsoever. So warm up your imagination—you’re going to need it.

The game’s genre would best be described as survival horror for blind people. It plays like Wolfenstein 3D with headphones on and the monitor off, with one added feature to make up for it. Sure, you can hear where the enemies are via their playful Nazi banter, and even have a general idea of where to shoot—but navigation would be difficult without someone telling you when you’ve hit a wall.

Well, Blindside is like the above, flawless analogy WITH a voice to guide you. But more on the voice later.

The player is trying to escape a hoard of monsters by navigating through several situations using only sound as a guide. On the iPad, the player navigates the alleged terrain by pressing the top part of the iPad, and rotating the iPad left or right (like a steering wheel) to turn. The sounds are extremely important, so make sure the left and right headphones are in the correct ears before you spend the first five minutes of the game frustrated and confused and feeling like you’re possibly having a stroke. (I’m OK now.)

Blindside

Starting in an apartment, the protagonist and his girl must make their way through several perilous obstacles, some of which include not banging your toe on apartment furniture, lighting a match, and crossing a street. The protagonist initially thinks the power is out (spoiler: he’s actually blind). So he gets up and explains the layout of his entire apartment to the player. Then he decides to get some matches from the kitchen drawer. What the player is supposed to do is visualize the layout of the room, which is described exactly once, and use that knowledge to navigate. To aid the player, every time a wall or piece of furniture is hit, the protagonist offers one of several helpful directions, like “ouch, that’s my coffee table,” or “aw man that hurt, you hit the coffee table again,” or “dammit, Frank! You keep hitting the same fucking coffee table!” You get the picture.

The voice of the protagonist in Blindside is key. Without his direction, you the player would be completely lost, and the game’s idea simply wouldn’t work. …Too bad it’s annoying as all hell. It’s not that the voice acting is done poorly, especially for an indie game. It’s just that the player has to hear him so often that he starts to get irritating after a while. (And by “a while,” I mean right around the time that my character ran into the same wall five times within the first four minutes of the game.)

The other means of navigation come from the apartment’s sounds, which are all pretty decent. The television’s static and the sink’s drippings are the tools the player is given to work with in the first level. The rest of the game works the same way—whether it be street cars, space ships, steam pipes, or snoring monsters, the sounds are all the key to navigation. The trick is to move the iPad until the particular sound moves from one ear to another in order to get a bearing. If the sound is coming from both headphone speakers, then the object is directly in front of the player. Sounds easy enough, right?

Not really.

Blindside Screenshot

My major issue with the sound effects is that, while “navigating,” the voice and sound effects can interrupt each other if the player moves too quickly to the next object. The sounds are triggered by the virtual position of the player. I guess I moved past too many triggers, causing one voice to overlap another and resulting in a convoluted mess of narration. This happened to me quite often.

After a lot of random wandering, I did finally make it to the matches. In fact, I made it out of the apartment, down the street and through the next few levels, as well.

But was I really getting the hang of the game, or just frustratingly guessing and meandering about? I think I was playing the game correctly—I mean, I followed the instructions and progressed through the levels with relative ease. However, I feel like I missed something here. The game could not hold my interest. I played the game for a long time. With my eyes closed, in a silent house. I knew I couldn’t have any distractions. It’s not like I could listen to music, or watch a movie in the background like I sometimes enjoy doing with the average game. Blindside requires the player’s undivided attention.

Blind Side Poster

Unrelated “feel good” movies that share the same name aside, for me, the game Blindside is sadly not very interesting. It was, however, a moment of self-discovery for me. I realized that I am not only possibly ADHD, but maybe I’m not as creative as I thought I was. For the life of me, I could not visualize these environments. I tried, but every time I thought I had a bead on the surroundings, the voice would chastise me for running into a wall, or he would simply scream in horrible pain as my lack of direction killed the poor bastard somehow.

The experience did not necessarily frighten, excite, or interest me. It did, however, frustrate me beyond belief. But the thing is, I don’t think that is the game’s fault. Perhaps I rely too much on visuals. Generally, I don’t put visuals and sound in the same universe while playing a game. Sound is not anywhere near as important to me. Heck, sometimes, I play with the sound off.

For me, this game was like trying to listen to a song in Braille. Something essential was amiss. However, I still think it has the potential to be an important game for people who do have vision problems.

Being shown what the world would be like if I were blind is scary enough. Taking that world and adding monsters around every corner produces a seriously fucked up experience that I simply didn’t care for as much as I hoped I would.

All that to say, if I ever went blind, I would apparently be totally screwed. After my struggle with Blindside, I definitely feel a better understanding of what a blind person must go through. In that respect, the game is effective.

In closing,  this.

A review copy of this game was provided to us by the publisher.


Article rating: 7.50 BEARDS out of 10

About the Author

I don't write for fun. Fun writes for me. Check out my other articles!
Email: frankjacobs.fj@gmail.com

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