Blind | Review | PSVR

Blind - Game Logo.png

Blind is built from the ground up for VR.

Which is a phrase i don’t often get to say, but when i do, it always means you’re in for a little extra treat. Blind is no exception.

Why that little phrase means so much is because the developers took into consideration everything in the virtual environment whilst piecing together their vision. So everything from the visuals, the binaural audio, and very specifically the immersion level – go that extra mile.

In a case like Blind, they kind of have to.

Screenshot 1.png

In Blind you play Jean, a young girl who has had a horrific accident and no longer has use of her sight. Bad time to wake up in a mansion with a creepy spiky-headed goon giving you the Jigsaw treatment then?

Jean soon comes to terms with her predicament and her captor is relatively calm and actually a little soothing, considering the situation.

He explains that you will need to partake in a bit of puzzle solving to find out why you are trapped in this house, but does not leave you alone in the dark. So far you’ve been relying totally on environmental audio to use your Daredevil-esque echolocation abilities. Ole’ spiky lends you something better for the journey.

A cane.

Screenshot 2.png

You can whip your cane out in either hand by simply pressing the Move button. The fact it comes up so quickly and is so easily interchangeable is a god send given the amount of times you’re going to be using it over the next few hours.

Blind does indeed control solely through use of the Move controllers. The button layout isn’t terribly confusing, but it is a shame about the lack of VR control options. The most similar scheme i can think of is The Solus Project. You use the left controller buttons for Forward, Backward, Menu & Centering yourself. The right controller turns you 30 degrees incrementally in either direction and allows you to crouch – which you’ll use more than you think.

Hopefully later on the developers will consider adding a smooth turning option – frankly it should be standard at this point.

Although, it is worth pointing out you can kind of steer a bit with the direction your head is facing. Another welcome option when in the thick of things.

The game can be played standing up or sitting down, however if you have a couch set up similar to mine and are as care free with flinging useful items around as I am, you’ll be doing a bit of both. Honestly it’s only a short game, so if you’re looking for a recommendation – try standing first.

Screenshot 3.png

After getting a handle on how to move, you have to get a handle on how to move in the dark. After all, you are blind.

To put it quite simply, you whack your cane against things to see the surrounding area. The bigger the whack, the more sound you make, the more you see. Sequential whacks will make it brighter, but don’t push it too far, you can actually hurt yourself if you go too cane crazy. As pointed out by Ole’ Spiky (correctly referred to as “The Warden“) you tend to get into a rhythm pretty quickly.

It does, however, take a lot longer to get into the rhythm of the puzzles.

Screenshot 4.png

Early in the game i picked up a gem stone of some kind from a toolbox, which prompted an audio line – “I’m on the right track” I thought.

Wrong.

The gem promptly disappeared from my grip, leaving me to believe i had dropped it, glitched something out, and was now stuck forever in a dark room. As it turns out, I was being melodramatic. There are many of these stones dotted around the place. I’ve no idea what they mean, but once i figured that out i felt a lot better about the situation and decided to proceed as normal.

The game does little in the way of holding your hand, which i suppose is appropriate given your situation. Occasionally you might get lucky with a voice line that hints at something, but largely you just have to be very observant of your environment. Plenty of things are DEEPLY hidden away, in draws, behind books on bookshelves, behind innocuous paintings. Dig deep friends.

Screenshot 5.png

“But Tom”, you may ask. “Why the hell am I in this mansion to begin with?” Great question. Unfortunately that’s on you to find out. As you make your way through the labyrinth of doors and staircases you’ll begin to discover things about your family.

Bad things.

When you were in your accident – the one that left you blind – you had your little brother in the car with you. He is seemingly nowhere to be found. So that is pressing issue number one. Everything beyond that is an intricately woven narrative of domestic abuse and disfunction. One that The Warden seems dead set on having you relive, to some extent.

Things definitely get a little intense towards the end. I won’t spoil it, but if you were wondering if you’d be ok playing this if you did not like horror games. I might steer clear.  Just to be safe. Even I was a little on edge at times, Anything that hunts by sound is inherently terrifying right?

I’ve said too much…

Screenshot 6.png

Of course Blind isn’t the first of its kind. An earlier PSVR release by the name of ‘Stifled‘ claimed a similar mechanic and vibe, but the two are innately different in presentation and play style. It’s an unfair comparison outside of the echolocation mechanic. Blind is leaps and bounds ahead of Stifled in terms of presentation, and i really liked Stifled.

The voice acting is welcome, but stiff in places. With the exception of Jean’s mother, who nails her scenes well and brought about genuine emotion in me.

My only other major complaint is that the ending definitely could have been stronger. The entire game took me around 2 to 3 hours to complete, I did it in one sitting. Considering how strong the family drama narrative was at the beginning and throughout most of the middle sections of the game, despite the big reveal (which was well implemented stylistically) and the overall change of pace (which was stellar) the *actual* end was kind of….meh.

Maybe i built it up too much in my head? Maybe it should have ended on the reveal?

It wasn’t bad, by any means, it just felt a little like it was shoe horning existentialism into something that already had strong, dramatic roots in reality.

All in all, Blind was time well spent. The thing about virtual reality is that an experience as unusual as this one will stick with you. It almost becomes a false memory of “that time you were blind and fumbling ’round a mansion with Ole’ Spiky” Weird how that works. If nothing else i have new found respect for those of us in society who don’t get to take the headset off, and really do have to use a cane to *see* the world around them.

There is no other medium that can give you that experience.

Built from the ground up.

Tom’s full gameplay experience (with no commentary) was captured above. If you plan on picking this up, avoid watching too far in for fear of spoilers.

You have been warned. 

Blind is now available for PSVR. Oculus Rift & HTC Vive.

 

Catch & Release | Review | PSVR

ss_e17e213401e141593963277d3ee30812b15ba7e6.1920x1080.jpg

I remember fishing.

I only went once or twice back in England, but always had a good time.

Admittedly that had more to do with the copious amount of drugs partaken in before getting anywhere close to sticking a maggot on a hook, but i still look back fondly on those trips and remember the rush of catching my first carp with a wry smile.

The worst part about fishing was always a combination of the weather and the wait. England is wet, dull, miserable even, so hanging around on the side of a lake for HOURS at a time in the small hope that you might get a nibble on the end of your line was somewhat of a chore.

Hence the drugs.

ss_77ed08ae896cd6bc0529940032ea63006422f384.1920x1080.jpg

I have since grown up (arguably) and no longer need recreational substances to enjoy a trip to the river. To be honest though, i rarely feel the call of the wild. I’d much rather just hang out in my basement and do things on my own terms.

Catch & Release is perfect for me.

ss_5737db55ad762499f4e709ce2e7c58d0a8efd479.1920x1080.jpg

PSVR has had a few fishing games, although none of them really hit the nail on the head. I mean unless you like demon fish in a Final Fantasy setting or Dream Angling…whatever the hell that is.

Catch & Release seems to be the first game of its kind to actually get the idea of fishing right. Just you, a lake, and a mixture of relaxation and excitement for when you eventually do get a bite.

After the initial “what button does what” breaking-in phase, and a quick glance at the options, I was ready to hit the lake. Mercifully, everything is relatively simple and explained well. The VR settings don’t run awfully deep, but why would they need to? It’s not like we’re ripping around a futuristic racing track at 200mph. Rowing a boat is fairly intuitive and definitely doesn’t need a vignette for sharp turns.

ss_0c468e467b4feb65870717c9a5a682de0d1ca56e.1920x1080.jpg

After rowing out to the center of the lake it’s time to get to grips with my surroundings. I notice a couple books, a sandwich, a beer, a stone, a radio, a cooler, some bait and of course, my rod.

The tutorial does a great job of explaining the opening salvo. So i thread my bait (much less icky than real life) and cast out. Within a minute or so i get a bite, and before i can even really register what’s going on, my line breaks.

Apparently this is going to be a little tougher than first thought.

ss_df61c34bf1a86a65eb939bbfbfcf11b748c254c0.1920x1080.jpg

I need some tunes. So i reach for the radio and find the least audibly offensive station i can (hope you like country) and give it another shot. This game is all about give and take. If your fish is pulling hard, slack the line. If your fish isn’t doing much, reel it in. This to and fro is what eventually tires your enemy and allows you to pull it aboard. Once aboard you have two options – stick it in the cooler, or let it go.

You get cash either way, but the amount varies. Smaller fish should be thrown back, bigger fish kept and sold. You can even buy a small weighing station for the boat to determine if a fish is worth it or not, In fact you can buy a lot of things. Bait, food, drink, stones, hats, rods, all from your handy dandy magazine. Think the lake equivalent of Sky Mall.

Lake Mall…if you will.

ss_93d62d78d8e615dab2143549c468d7d153ad24c2.1920x1080.jpg

Honestly this is pretty much all there is to it. Which in my eyes, is fucking great!

Row boat, catch fish, buy stuff, catch bigger and/or more interesting fish…repeat.

Mix in some decent music and some fun VR distractions, like drinking virtual beer, and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker. Pun intended.

That’s all it ever needed to be. Just you and the lake. The fish genuinely feel massively procedural. It is exciting to get a whopper…and they do exist.

Being able to travel to different areas and make use of your little guide book to discover exactly what your fish likes bait-wise and its whereabouts, is fun, and makes you feel like you have to do a bit of detective work to truly get what you’re looking for. This makes it vastly more enjoyable when you finally hook it and start the fight to reel it in.

ss_3d04bc96027ef73b6d6b974e78a8e4ddc2266778.1920x1080.jpg

Catch & Release is everything it needed to be. Light on exposition, fun mechanics, replayability, decent graphics and actually benefits from a VR setting. It’s the ultimate palette cleanser after digging into something more spooky or adrenaline peaking. If you’ve been looking for a relaxing fishing sim in VR…look no further.

You can see 30 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay right here and make up your own mind.

Catch & Release is available on PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive & Windows Mixed Reality.

Nintendo Switch getting special edition Pokemon hardware bundles on November 16th

Nintendo announced today that it would be releasing special edition Pikachu & Eevee Switch bundle on November 16th to accompany the games release on the platform.

Either Let’s Go, Pikachu! or Let’s Go, Eevee! can be chosen by the buyer to be pre-installed on the console.

Whichever game they may decide, the console itself will look the same, with a fabulously etched Pikachu and Eevee on the base station and the console itself, that seamlessly blend into both a brown and yellow Joy-Con, respectively.

The bundle will also include the Poke Ball Plus controller as an added bonus.

Nintendo have said no word on official pricing at this juncture.

Peep the full trailer above!

Everybody’s Golf for PSVR announced at Tokyo Game Show for a 2019 release

Exciting news for fans of PSVR and/or decent golfing games!

Sony has announced Everybody’s Golf will be coming with a full PSVR title next year on the popular VR headset.

Judging from the footage, it’s a true to the original title with the usual cutesy spin on the golfing game genre, however fully implemented with a virtual reality upgrade.

It actually makes perfect sense if you think about it…

Everybody’s Golf has always focussed more on fun over realism, and a stylized cartoon aesthetic over the usual EA Sports style graphics.

These lower poly images would make a far easier transition to virtual reality and help maintain a smoother frame rate at the same time.

We’re really excited to see how this progresses.

PSVR has been sorely lacking a decent golf game, with the less-than-stellar previous entries of titles like 100ft Robot Golf and Moonshot Galaxy.

This sounds like the perfect solution.

What are your thoughts?

FromSoftware’s Déraciné gets a release date and a new trailer

The VR debut from director Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware – Déraciné – got an official release date announced via a new trailer at Tokyo Game Show.

Déraciné sees you taking the role as an unseen faerie in a secluded boarding school, the player moves around in frozen time, collecting various bits of information that serve to unfold an overarching mystery.

You can expect the highly anticipated VR release to drop on November 6, 2018.

Kingdom Hearts: VR Experience announced this holiday for PSVR

Today at Tokyo Game Show Sony announced a special treat for VR fans this holiday season – Kingdom Hearts: VR Experience.

Kingdom Hearts: VR Experience looks as though it will take its cue from one of the other previous exclusive VR treats Sony has given its headset, The Last Guardian: VR Experience, in-so-far as it won’t be a full title, but rather a jaunty, shorter *experience* in which you will probably meet a few cool characters from both the Disney and Final Fantasy sides of the series, and help them perform a few simple, but fun-in-VR tasks.

One thing is for sure, judging by the trailer, you definitely get to swing a Keyblade around.

Sign us up!

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Is Coming To The PS4 And Nintendo Switch!

Today at the Tokyo Game Show Sony announced that the fan-favorite, mainline Final Fantasy spin off – Crystal Chronicles – was getting a fully remastered release on its platform.

For a few moments there, grumpier gamers took to twitter to decry “Why not Switch?”

Luckily, their fears were satiated when merely an hour or so later, Nintendo promptly pointed out that they were getting the “practically made for their console” title too!

Crystal Chronicles was originally released back in 2003 for Gamecube in Japan, with a western release that followed.

Echoing history, there has not been an official “western version” announcement yet, however if Nintendo and Sony like the idea of printing money – we’re sure it’s not too far behind.

Check the complete remastered trailer above and let us know your thoughts!