Blind Swordsman Review

 

Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.37.42

Yes, that is a picture straight from my Macbook. Yes that is Google Chrome. ANd yes… I am reviewing a game on Newgrounds that you can play for free.

Why?

Because if you are the kind of person who reads my reviews, then you know that they deserve the traffic. If you haven’t heard of Newgrounds.com and you like computer games, you are missing out. Go to it. I will wait.

You back from Newgrounds.com? Good. If you are confused as to what it is, it is a website made exclusively for flash animations. Many of which are interactive to one degree or another. It was essentially the pet project of Tom Fulp, the same guy who helped make Castle Crashers. If you haven’t heard of Castle Crashers don’t worry; I’m here to help.

The above game on the above desktop screenshot did not have a fullscreen version, so please forgive me if you happen to see my url among other things. Truth is, though, I won’t have to many screenshots. Mostly due to the fact that technically, this game doesn’t even need a screen. The Blind Swordsman lives up to its title.

Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.37.50

That’s not a botched screenshot; Blackness is literally all you see. You hear plenty though;  the sound of laughter, footsteps trotting along, your enemies taunting you, and even the twirling of a spinning flail. You really are the blind swordsman, and you have to fight blind.

The plot is pretty straightforward; you are a renowned sword master who lost his sight, and seeks the aid of a mysterious warlock who could heal your blindness. But you reputation precedes you, and you have a number of armed assailants who stand in your way. Each level is essentially an armed duel to the death between you and a ever growing number of opponents. You can’t see them, but you can hear them, and you cunningly let them come to you. You use the arrow keys to turn, block, and attack. If you don’t time your attack or parry well enough, you die. You will never see it coming.

Best way to play this game is either with surround sound that you probably have hooked up to your TV and not your laptop, or just use headphones. I tried playing it with my Macbook speakers, and I could barely get past the first level.

This review will not be for the purpose of whether or not you should buy this game. There is no buying; its free on the internet. Rather, I am reviewing the concept, how well it is executed, and why you should be as impressed with this game as I was. Yes, I am pandering to indie devs yet again, but why not? Evil-Dog Studios and Sick Death Fiend (really) had the balls to do something new and exciting. Lets give them a review that they will remember, and you will to.

Here it goes

Simply Revolutionary

It’s a crime that no dust has been raised over this game. IGN should be doing an exclusive interview. Only website I seen that seems to promote it is Newgrounds itself. For the first few days, it was a banner on the front page. One of the biggest things holding this game back isn’t even a part of the game itself, but the medium that has to carry it.

You could program this game on an Ipod. One of the little nano-ones without a screen. Just replace the arrow buttons with the ipod buttons and your good to go. This game could be an MP3. You can hear a lets play over the freakin radio. Yeah, this is my budding game designer talking more then my inner gamer, but when you create something that only needs a pair of headphones and a controller, you are not just thinking outside the box. You are making the box obsolete. That is a direct analogy for the TV monitor of course.

Not that it wouldn’t work just as well for console gaming. The game proves that the screen can be useful even when you don’t use it directly. They put some instructions on theres. What if we had a menu on a blind swordsman Xbox game that affected your inventory or allowed you to map out your course. A visual metaphor for the non-visual memory. Heck, you saw my Thief video; with a vibrating controller, I can feel the lock pick with my eyes closed. Imagine having a similar mechanic for a blind man’s walking stick? You feel a slight stutter of the controls every step you take. Your stick bangs into something, the controller shakes fiercely. You then feel the object with your stick. Is is a friend? A wall? Or a monster? Survival horror gold!

I could rant and speculate on the possible mechanics for days. Hell, this game gave me an idea for a Daredevil franchise that wouldn’t suck. When I get Ryan’s Video Game Prototypes up and running (coming soon!), I’ll have to fire up Unity and see what I can crank out.

But until then, I should also consider the game itself rather then just praising the absolutely brilliant high concept behind it. How does the actual game play.

Well… to be frank, it plays out more like a

Prototype Phase

game then anything ironed and finished. I hate to give such a brave and industrious indie project a bad rap, but one needs not look past the Newgrounds Reviews to see where I’m coming from.

Screenshot 2014-04-08 00.41.31

 

Save for the one 0 stars that is obviously a troll, they all seem to be on the same fence post I am; they love the concept, but feel the game needs tweaking.  The parry and attack system requires too much timing, there is no tutorial to help you adjust to its radical differences, and quite often, the voice acting tries too hard to announce where the bad guys are. I can hear footprints, and mad women cackle rather quietly. The obnoxious sword guy saying “die Blind Swordsman!” is just redundant.

In my last review of the game Thief, I compared the game’s flaws to that of the Disney movie John Carter, both of which defined their mediums but made the mistake of sticking to their original and overused formulas. I liken this game to the movie The Purge, in the sense that it takes a brilliant high concept but doesn’t run with it as far as they could have. To be fair, the Purge movie was a multimillion dollar hollywood project, and Blind Swordsman was programmed by one guy. Most games need at least two or three. Plus the game, at least in my opinion, seems to have the best excuse a developer could have for screwing anything up.

It’s Experimental.

The game dev community has a special saying. One that becomes Game Design 101 to all but the least experienced game designers. Fail Faster. Blind Swordsman was a cautious step into the dark with no torch and barely any footing. Now that it gained some publicity (and some press :3), we are likely to see these two guys charge forward with gusto once Blind Swordsman 2 comes out. I will be there to review it.

So overall, it basically plays like a…

Combat Audio Game

Pop quiz ladies and gents; what’s the difference between a computer game and a video game? Answer; computer games are on the computer, and the other on the TV console. You know, like a video that you play. Remove that big Plasma box, and you only got sound. Music. Speech. Like an audio file.

Audio games could become our future. Games are getting smaller and smaller as it is. Take out the visuals, and you got little more then an interactive MP3. Small, portable, easily downloaded on your phone. And the fact that someone made the most generic and common type of game with it-action/adventure-means that it has potential to pierce the industry. Even with its quirks, the game is a great challenge for experienced gamers who need to try something different. For the low low price of nothing.

The ironic part by far is that even though the current game isn’t completely workable as such yet, it caters to the same demographic it perpetuates. The last clientele you would ever consider for an electronic program. That’s right; with verbal instructions and a braille keyboard, this is the first game that can actually be played by the blind.

I actually have more fun and an easier time playing with my eyes closed. It’s a process of hearing the distance of enemies. You even have to anticipate arrows coming your way at one point. The whoosh of a flying projectile is your only indicator to react. Your blind cousin would feel like a ninja playing this game.

In fact, screw it. I am throwing down the gauntlet.

If you have a blind friend or family member, show him this game. It’s called Blind Swordsman, its online, and its free. In the comments below, post a link of a youtube video of said loved one playing this game, and I will post the video right under this text.

I mean it too. I wanna show the world myself the possibility for good games have, and what a little innovation and hard work can do not just for an industry, but for humanity. I wanna see more games like this. Make a game with no sound for deaf people. Have a game for austic savants that help sooth their nerves and  develop their social skills. Make a game for PTSD patients who need closure for the horrors they were forced to face over seas. Games aren’t just about entertainment; they are about the people who play them.

This is a good as place as any to end this piece. I leave you with the Synopsis.

Blind Swordsman

Simply Revolutionary

Prototype Phase

Combat Audio Game

I’ll see you around. So to speak 0_0

 

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