Imagine, for just a moment, that you are blind. Pretend that this bright and colorful world that you have grown so accustomed to has been bathed in darkness and the familiarities of every day life have been transfigured into anonymous hulking shapes that lurk just beyond your realm of perception. Allow your mind to enter a world in which every time is two in the morning, and every corridor is the same unlit hallway that exists somewhere between the waking world and your nightmares and you will have effectively entered the world of Blind, an artistically minimalist platformer from Peter Maslencenko, and Omar Shehata.
The world you inhabit is one of little more than shadows, your ears providing the faintest hints of outlines for the objects that surround you. Then, out of the darkness, comes a cry for help, one you feel compelled to answer despite the perils that separate you from the calling voice. And believe me, there are plenty of perils that await you from spike filled pits to moving platforms you'll have your hands full just keeping yourself alive, let alone trying to save someone else. Your mission on each level is to reach the "help" calling after you, and in order to survive this daunting task, you'll need to use the [arrow] keys to walk and climb, the [spacebar] to jump, and the [shift] key to throw switches. If the constant sonar waves that emit from your body don't give you a clear enough picture of your surroundings, you can also throw a ball using the mouse in order to sound out where that next safe platform is.
Analysis: In many ways, Blind is reminiscent of Closure, from the pixelated black and white graphics to the experimentation with light to the platforming gameplay. But Blind is its own animal, separating itself from Closure in ways both good and bad.
Blind sits almost exactly halfway between a skill intensive platformer, and a puzzler. You'll definitely come face to face with some tricky jumps and your reflexes may be put through their paces, but the fact that you have to do this without actually being able to see the level in its entirety is what can really get the neurons pumping. In all actuality, in many ways playing Blind is kind of like playing a maze or exploring a dungeon where you first must map the whole thing out, and then you can work on finding a solution to get out of there. All the while you are treated to dark yet simple graphics and a positively eerie backtrack that come together to set an unsettling mood, one that is as pregnant with danger as the pit at your feet that you think might be full of spikes.
But I do think that in many ways Blind doesn't go far enough. There are some puzzle elements at work here, however there could have been so much more exploration done with that. Keeping the game mostly a standard platformer with the twist of not being able to see most of the levels therefore leads not only to tediousness, but frustration as well. Further, there is virtually no narrative following the introduction which, in a game that is clearly meant to have some artistic expression, can allow the player to drift away from any substantive or emotional connection that is formed with the protagonist in the first place.
And yet, there's a part of me that thinks the frustration is intentional, and maybe even the alienation. Perhaps, these aren't flaws so much as further expressions of the hardships those not gifted with sight must face? Whether for artistic exploration, or just a good challenge, though, Blind does provide an interesting gaming experience with a thought provoking artistic shell.