PAX West 2016: Blind VR First Impressions
This year at PAX West there’s a big push on VR. All the developers are showing their chops as they work to bring the technology to new heights. We caught up with Surprise Attack Games to take their VR mystery game Blind for a spin.
Where most VR games push towards expansive, bright worlds to tickle your senses, Blind takes a completely different approach by removing your sense of sight altogether. It follows that by throwing you into a pitch black mansion filled with puzzles. The goal is to find out why you’re there and how to get out while juggling the fact that you are, well, blind.
But Is It Fun?
It sure as hell is. Blind offers you the ability to use echolocation to navigate around the environments. You’re granted a wand in one hand that wherever you tap sends a wave of light that allows a temporary illumination of your surroundings. It lasts only a couple seconds so you really need to pay attention. The other hand is used for picking up items and placing them in certain spots to open doors and access new areas.
What’s The Story?
Blind is a narrative rich psychological adventure that begins with a woman waking up in a mansion with no recollection of how she got there, or why her sight is gone. She uses sound waves to travel about the mansion while encountering an eerie and perhaps sinister figure named “Warden” who looks like he just returned from his home town of Silent-Hill. Beyond that, we don’t know. It was only a demo after all.
How Are The Controls?
While the demo took place on an Oculus Rift, it will be available for HTC Vive and PSVR. The Oculus Rift did a great job of immersing you in this unnerving environment. The first couple puzzles were in a room and had me opening drawers, picking up books and looking behind furniture in search of keys to enter the next area. The wand worked well for guiding you around the room, the harder you tap a surface, the further your field of vision will go. I did find some of the controls for picking up certain objects to be difficult, though, strictly from the game not registering my hand movements. It often took two or three attempts to successfully pick up something as simple as a book. The controls include two joysticks, one for movement and the other to let you perform a 180-degree turn along with two triggers to extend your wand and to pick up objects. There’s a bit of a learning curve to these controls but once you get the hang of it, it actually makes a lot of sense and is rather intuitive.
Should I Part Ways With My Money?
Well, VR is still an infant and we’re only just barely seeing what it’s capable of. Blind is a short adventure that will only take about six hours to complete, but it really puts you in a position to use that brain while successfully scaring the crap out of you. Don’t expect encounters with enemies, fighting or weapons because this is about story and immersion. Blind is definitely worth checking out if you want something different from the norm. If you love puzzle solving, challenge yourself to uncover the mystery of Blind.