Recently-released app is immersive and exhilarating
By Savannah Stearmer, ’19
Released on Sept. 29 by creative studios Dowino and France Culture, “A Blind Legend” is a mobile gaming app that explores a classic medieval-adventure setting through the unique perspective of a blind knight. The player embodies a knight named Edward Blake, whose wife, Caroline, has been kidnapped by Thork, Edward’s sworn enemy. Guided by Louise, his daughter, he must brave the treacherous land between him and Thork in order to rescue his wife. The game is played on a simply designed screen giving the impression of smoke, the only times it is not like this being when the creator’s logos come onto screen when the app is opened. The game was designed like this as a goal to make it the first mobile game that was made specifically to allow the blind and visually impaired to play. This design, however, doesn’t prevent the seeing from playing.
The audio is binaural, audio that is transmitted separately to each ear, allowing the player to navigate the 3D environment using audial cues from Louise and background sounds that can come from either ear. The audio includes the voices of various characters, the ambient sounds of nature, and the tutorial. While the voices do follow classic archetypes, they enhance the experience and are necessary for the player to form a clear picture of the characters. Edward Blake has a gruff, obviously masculine voice that could be imagined for a strong knight while Louise has a kind, sweet voice that allows the player to instinctively trust her as a guide. Villains’ voices also match the mental picture one might have of an enemy. The background audio sets the tone exceptionally well, aiding in immersing the player. One key part of setting the tone is the heartbeat in the undertone of the audio. Another notable example for how the tone is set would be as the player runs from soldiers that are quickly gaining on them. The chaos of the heartbeat and the approaching clamor of soldiers while trying to listen for Louise as she leads you to a hiding place provides for a burst of fear and exhilaration.
While the gameplay can be difficult to grasp at first, the tutorials are simple and it’s not difficult to get a handle on how to play. The fight scenes are uncomplicated and to succeed in with the motions for blocking and attacking being extremely easy to understand. Traveling from place to place can be difficult at first as the player learns to listen for Louise over the other sounds but, like the rest of the gameplay, it’s not difficult to grasp after a few tries.
Although playing the game is relatively simple, navigating the main screen can be confusing and annoying. Since there aren’t any visuals in the game, the player has to swipe blindly through the main screen until they find the chapter they want to continue from. This is a hassle but despite its annoyance, there’s no way to get around it without ruining the tone of the experience.
Despite the issues with the main screen, the overall game experience is well worth a few minutes of stumbling through a black screen. It’s well-made and the overall concept is enough enticement to at least explore the game. “A Blind Legend” is free to play and makes for an exciting use of an afternoon or a long weekend.
Android (4.2+) and iPhone (iOS 8+)
Free, offered in-app purchases