Blind – PAX East 2016 Hand-On Preview

The VR experience is all about immersion. It’s about strapping a screen to your eyeballs so you can look around and feel like you’re really within the game world, which makes what I am about to say sound paradoxically odd. The best VR game I have played so far makes you play as a girl suddenly and mysteriously stricken with blindness.

Blind, created by Tiny Bull Studios, is a VR-only game with a young girl protagonist who wakes up in a strange mansion. Players must use echolocation to escape the mansion and avoid the frightening “warden” while exploring and solving a serious of puzzles using motion controllers as “hands.”

While Blind will be available on all current and upcoming VR platforms, including PlayStation VR, I played it on the current, commercially available version of Oculus. By clicking one of the buttons on the left motion controller, you “tap” your cane, creating a ghostly, temporary vision of the world around you. The vision then slowly fades back into darkness. Tapping too quickly causes the imagery to become blurry, forcing you to carefully and continuously time the taps to see the world around you. Movement forward and backward is done by way of the stick on the left hand. While you can, of course, look in all directions and physically turn left or right, clicking buttons on the left or right controller, abruptly turn you 30 degrees in either direction. While this method of movement did feel rudimentary and reminiscent of old PC games like Myst and The Journeyman Project, but it did work and successfully solved the problem confronting most VR games.

(Blind, Tiny Bull Studios)

As someone very sensitive to motion sickness, I was weary when trying out Blind. I’m happy to report however that I never felt a moment of queasiness. But, moving forward with the push of the stick while physically remaining standing still was initially quite disorienting, making me feel as though the rug was being slightly tugged forward, out from under me. After a few moments, the disorientation did subside and I was able to focus on solving the Resident Evil-style puzzles you assume you’d find in a creepy, video game mansion.

Despite continually keeping you on the edge of total darkness, Blind is not a horror game, Tiny Bull Studios’ CEO Matteo Lana, assured me. “Its more of a narrative-focused, slow-paced exploration game with puzzles, with maybe a few scary moments here and there.” he said. During my demo, despite the constant feeling of unease and vulnerability in the darkness, I only encountered one slight, unexpected moment that was more of a shock than a scare.

(Blind, Tiny Bull Studios)

As mentioned earlier, Blind will be coming to all VR platforms this summer as it’s approximately 80% complete. Blind will probably not be a launch title for PlayStation VR which is upsetting as it was far and away better than any of the PlayStation VR titles playable at PAX East.

Many consumers incorrectly think that VR is the future of their favorite franchises. What VR has to offer isn’t the ability to play as Master Chief, but to experience something altogether new and Blind is a much-needed creative step in that direction. If you’re interested in VR, keep your eyes open for Blind.

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