I’m a firm believer that media can be an effective platform to drive change or make very subtle political points to get conversations started. I’m also a believer that the games industry can oft not be a suitable platform for it, as it can rely heavily on execution of the end-product.
Blindfold, from developer iNK Stories who are known for 1979 Revolution: Black Friday (which Blindfold acts as a companion piece to), is a new VR experience on the subject matter of the silencing of free speech and the press. You find yourself playing the role of a nameless journalist, subject to interrogation by an unknown aggressor whose only goal is to forcibly get you to admit your guilt.
The purpose of the experience is to answer the questions that your interrogator asks in the basis of either nodding or shaking your head from side to side. It’s an exceptionally clever use of the VR medium, and I applaud the developer for the simple but effective approach to interrogation – it certainly helps you to concentrate more on the questions you’re being bombarded with. That being said, there were times where I daren’t look around in case I proffered a response I didn’t intend to, though for the most part it’s pretty consistent.
The setting is particularly dark and gritty, if somewhat a little unsharpened. You get a chance to have a good look around your intended prison in the first five minutes or so of the experience whilst waiting for the interrogation to start in earnest; it wasn’t as refined visually as some VR titles you’ll find on the market, but by no means did it miss the mark. Despite this, graphically the game lacks immersion. Yes, I was in an interrogation room and there was no doubt about that, but I would expect more going on in the room, more to feel your way around with. It was very basic (and I agree, it’s unlikely you’d have much) but it didn’t feel exactly right; there was nothing about it that helped build upon what should be a foreboding sense of desperation.
By and large, the experience lacked any tension. The sound was on point and I felt the surroundings in basic essence captured the darkness and helplessness that the developer was trying to convey. But I didn’t feel threatened. Even as I was focusing all of my attention on accusations being thrown at me, I never felt that my nodding or shaking of the head was having any real effect. Perhaps this is what the developer intended, that no matter what way you answer you’re guilty before you’ve even started. It’s a strong emotional point, and a very good one, but I’m not sure that the input left me with any thought process beyond an average experience.
Blindfold is a solid attempt to convey a point, and perhaps highlight a glaring issue in modern journalism that still exists. In terms of what is on offer on the VR market, it doesn’t hold up as well as some other titles both graphically and from a gameplay perspective. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the experience, but there wasn’t anything on the table that really wowed me. I understand the idea behind it but in relation to what I mentioned earlier, I feel if your going to bring something thought-provoking into a game it must be executed well. Part of me feels that Blindfold has the subject matter, but not the final product in its entirety. That being said, it’s available for less than £2, so you won’t feel particularly ripped off if you do decide to give it a try.
Blindfold makes a strong point, and for this reason it should be applauded. Where it falls short is the execution and what is left is an intriguing, albeit niche, approach to a game that unfortunately lacks the tension and setting that could have made it a more rounded and excellent experience.
It’s not your average offering, but it’s also not offering anything entirely above average. It’s cheap enough to justify giving it a try, but you shouldn’t expect it to hold your interest beyond the first brief playthrough.
Developer: iNK Stories
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch