Developer: epicycle
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.02
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Occasionally I’ll catch wind of a game that seems like it’d be right up my alley. Sometimes they’re weird, sometimes they’re innovative, and sometimes they’re purely experimental. BlindSide has a bit of all three, but the creative combinations don’t make up for the frustration.

BlindSide is in many ways an iOS game based around Day of the Triffids. Not officially, of course, but the underlying concept of a mysterious plague of blindness and carnivorous monsters taking advantage of a sightless populace is the same. Players control Case, an assistant professor who wakes up in the middle of this nightmare. With his girlfriend in tow he’ll try to piece together the cause of all this madness, as well as try to avoid becoming some lumbering beast’s snack, all without the use of his (or the player’s) eyes. Navigation is entirely gyroscope-based, although a tilt option is also available for older devices. Simply face a given direction and Case will do the same while tapping and holding the top or bottom of the screen will move him forward and backward. It plays much like a graphics-less adventure game as players attempt to find solve puzzles and avoid gruesome death at almost every turn.

A great deal of care has gone into BlindSide’s audio, which is especially apparent when playing with headphones. The sounds of the world fade in and out and change direction as players turn themselves (and by extension, Case) around their environment. The hum of static from a TV or steady drip of a fountain can be an essential path finding tool. And hearing the thud of a monster’s footsteps and its raspy breathing as it steadily draws closer? Truly intense stuff.

And yet I find myself disappointed with BlindSide. Frustrated, even. A number of mechanics are in place to aid players in finding their way around the city without the use of sight but it can still be incredibly irritating. Simply trying to cross the street to get to that stupid fountain can be enough to cause someone to quit outright. The constant deaths due to not understanding the situation in full wouldn’t be quite so bad if restarting didn’t take so long, but regardless a lot of navigation is trial-and-error. At least in areas involving hazards. It’s also a shame that while the sound effects are quite good, the acting and even the script are “decent” at best. The actors get the job done, but some of their lines and delivery can kill the tension.

BlindSide is definitely an atmospheric and pretty freaky game when played with headphones on and eyes closed, but the experience suffers quite a bit thanks to the trial and error navigation and poor voicework. It’s still worth checking out, especially for adventure and horror fans, but a fair amount of patience is required.

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