A Blind Legend: A New Game for VI Gamers!
Georgia from the Aidis Trust told me about a computer game for blind, visually impaired and sighted people called “A Blind Legend”. As soon as I found out there was a demo available for Mac users, I decided I should test it and review it, so here goes!
What Is A Blind Legend?
A Blind Legend is an audio-only game playable for sighted and non sighted players that you can play on Windows or Mac computers and will be available on touchscreen phones. I downloaded the Mac demo version for this review and used a keyboard to control it. The company behind this idea is called DOWINO. The company explains that the game ‘features binaural sound to let you find your bearings in a 3D environment with audio only, and use your phone’s touchscreen to control the hero.’
What’s the Driving Force?
The project is being funded by crowd sourcing/funding – that is, people going onto the website and donating money to the makers of the game. DOWINO explains that ‘we want to offer non-sighted people a proper video game, with a rich storyline and tailored gameplay, which is as interesting for this audience as for sighted players.’
They also want to create a sense of community through the project, making it participatory. They are already partnered with the French Federation of Blind and Visually Impaired People, (the game is to be produced in French and English), the Valentin Haüy Association and Point de Vue sur la Ville.
These organisations give the creators at DOWINO a lot of advice in terms of game creativity and accessibility for everyone. The project is progressing well – the first stretch goal is 40,000 euros so that the game can be produced for both Android and iOS in both French and English. Now, onto the good stuff -gameplay!
Description of the Game
The site describes the game as:
You embody Edward Blake, a knight whose wife, Dame Caroline, has been kidnapped by the fearsome Thork, the dungeon keeper on High Castle Island and the hero’s sworn enemy.
On the day of the kidnapping, Thork gouged Blake’s eyes out…
Guided by his daughter Louise, he sets off to confront Thork’s army and defy every obstacle in order to save his lady wife.
And so you depart on a long journey…
All sounds very dramatic and exciting on the screen – but what about actually playing it?
I played the Demo for Mac version of the game. You listen to the audio around you with headphones in, using the arrow keys to get closer and closer to Louise – it is described as a ‘hide and seek’ game by the narrator at the start.
The sound effects are GREAT! It really makes you feel as though you’re in a forest on an adventure! There’s running water and swishing of trees so you can really imagine the scene in front of you without actually having to see it. It’s really easy to play – Louise directs you to her saying ‘more to the left’, ‘more to the right’, etc., and you as the gamer are expected to keep up with her – it can get fast paced at points!
I enjoyed the overall feel that the game gave – although it could have had a little more suspense in it in places. The use of just the arrow keys was good as there was no fiddling around with the mouse trying to see the cursor to play the game!
What Could be Better?
A few of the commands that Louise gives are very vague – especially given that the majority of the game’s players will be blind or visually impaired! She says ‘over here’ a lot which is VERY annoying as I was left thinking: ‘WHERE?!’, however, this does add a sense of mystery to gameplay.
Similarly as you get closer to her in the game, she asks you to ‘turn around’ and this can get very confusing. It’s hard to know which way you are supposed to be turning, then again it makes the game more fun because the player has to work out how to get to her! One other small snag that I had was Louise’s voice – her voice could be a bit grating if you played the game for too long I think!
Also, on the game there is no picture whatsoever – it is just a blank screen. This is not an issue for players with no vision – however, I would have liked a few still images of a forest or something as the game progressed for sighted or visually impaired players. The sound effects, as I’ve already said were fantastic, and moving images would be hard to cope with, but a few stills of forest would have set the game up nicely.
The title ‘A Blind Legend’ could be viewed by some blind/vi people as being a little patronising – is the main character just a ‘legend’ or a ‘blind legend’? Should the fact that he is blind be the focal point of the game?
One final thing that I’d say is that the game did not feel suspenseful enough – it was created a little bit, but I wanted tension building with fire-breathing dragons, knights princesses and castle doors creaking open! But I have kept in mind that this is only a demo version and that the real version should be much better. The company are aiming for at least three levels of gameplay – I’d like a few more!
I really enjoyed playing the Demo of the game on the Mac and I can’t wait for the full version to be out soon! I think it’s a good game for blind and sighted players alike, although I do think that a few still images for players with some residual, or full, sight would have set the scene even more than the sound – which does the job well. Although some still images would have been nice, and some of the voice commands were a little vague, I think that overall the game is, and will continue to be, a huge success. I for one can’t wait to see what happens!
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