Correction: The review states that the voice actor was the same as the one used in The Jackbox Party Pack. We have received a notice from the developer that it's not the same voice actor. We apologize to the developer for the error.
I've been excited for a while about Blind Drive - the promise of a game that can be played the same way by both blind and sighted people is too exciting to ignore, and while waiting for other similar games coming soon like The Vale, it's a wonderful test drive into a new kind of game. While the fun wears out pretty quickly, Blind Drive is an enormous step forward for accessibility in games.
Blind Drive sets the player into a post-ridiculous story by the writers and voice actors that brought you the Jackbox Party Pack games. If you're familiar with those games, you'll know exactly what kind of humor to expect. The player character begins by answering a Craigslist ad to put on a blindfold and get into a car in a dark alley for a large sum of money, no further explanation. A comically threatening voice tunes into the radio, a voice you'll immediately recognize from Trivia Murder Party. The unnamed game master laughs maniacally, and the car takes off down the wrong side of the interstate at 90 miles per hour.
Blind Drive essentially amounts to one long wild ride against traffic on a busy highway, and your one objective is to dodge oncoming cars. That's about it. Every few kilometers, you'll be interrupted by the voice to advance the story a bit and perhaps add a new twist into the mix. Early on you discover that he's keeping your grandmother hostage at the end of the highway, so you've got plenty of motive to keep driving down the road blindfolded to save her.
The arcade-like gameplay starts you at a checkpoint, and you listen (headphones strongly recommended). There's nothing really on-screen to aid you in any way; Blind Drive is a purely audio experience. When you hear a car coming on your right side, swerve left. When a car comes on your left side, swerve right. That's all there is to it. After the first few checkpoints, the game master throws some wrenches into the works such as loud, distracting music, distorted sounds, redirected sounds, and more. You get three lives while out on the road, and after getting hit by that third car it's back to the last checkpoint.
In Blind Drive, like many modern arcade games, you're expected to die frequently and restart with just seconds of progress lost. Luckily, by swerving into bicyclists (who are on the highway for some reason) and killing them, you'll regain one health to keep you driving just a bit longer and hit the next checkpoint. The humor hits most of the time, such as the protagonist being reviled by running into the first biker for health and just minutes later laughing maniacally as he rejoices in their slaughter.
As previously stated, Blind Drive can be played just the same way by a blind person as a sighted person. In fact, the developers recommend you play the entire game with your eyes closed. You'll need to turn on the Accessibility option in the menu (which is not on by default for some reason), but once that's done audio cues will help you navigate the menus. The gameplay is of course entirely audio-based, and every time you lose a health point a number of dings let you know how much health you have left.
While I am very much excited about the accessibility implications of Blind Drive, it's unfortunately just not a lot of fun to play. As a sighted person I have come to depend too much on my eyes and too little on my ears, and I found myself dying dozens of times in the space of a few minutes on some of the harder levels. Strangely, the way I pushed through was to talk to my friend on the phone while playing to keep my ears distracted. I doubt this method will work for everyone.
Players are likely to hit some serious roadblocks when playing, and the frustration mounts quickly after dying five or six times in the space of a minute. After about level 6 (out of 27), I began to grow bored with the repetitive nature of the game. While it does add new challenges each round, the gameplay is largely just dependent on how fast your reflexes are and how good your hearing is. If you, like me, are someone who second-guesses themselves often, this is not for you. You'll need to completely trust your first instinct when a car is approaching and your first instinct will need to be correct.
I encourage interested parties to check out Blind Drive because I am thoroughly impressed with its accessibility options. It definitely delivers an experience you can and should play with your eyes totally closed. After about an hour the fun begins to fade, but it's only a few bucks and there are certainly some laughs to be had.
TechRaptor reviewed Blind Drive on PC, with a copy provided by the publisher. Blind Drive is also available on iOS and Android devices.
- A Huge Step Forward in Gaming Accessibility
- Good Humor
- Gameplay Gets Reptitive Quickly