Saturday, 28 July 2012

The games you will never see!

So... you think this post is going to be about unfinished and/or cancelled games...

Well you're wrong!

After accidently discovering an audio-only game called BlindSide on the Desura site I decided to have a rummage around the Internet to see if I could find any more titles like this and discovered the unique, strange, and sometimes apparently quire disconcerting world of Audio Games.

Audio games seem to have their roots in the add-on speech synthesisers that could be used with some old-style text adventure games (or interactive fiction, as they are now known) before a niche market for games aimed at the blind user emerged. With the advances in sound control these games made came an opportunity to appeal to a wider, and more commercially lucrative, audience. The Audio game is fast becoming a recognised subgenus that is now making some important inroads into mainstream gaming platforms.

Now, BlindSide wasn’t the first game I've ever played where the core game-play relayed on sound. In E0 ( Enemy Zero) from the wonderfully eccentric Warp Software you had to 'hear' your way to the enemy, although it did also heavily rely on graphics for it First-Person type game-play.  

BlindSide was the first game I'd ever played where the entire game-play consisted only of sound, but it wasn't the first game I'd heard of to do this.
There was another Warp game called 'Real Sound: Kaze no Regret' (Regrets in the Wind) released for the Dreamcast console in 1997 which purportedly relied entirely on sound!
Unfortunately I never got a chance to play it as it was Japanese only.

So what do you do in BlindSide?
Well, this is an audio-only survival/horror type mystery game where you suddenly wake up to find yourself blind... 

BlindSide Trailer - Desura

The world is fully 3D formed, and your position within it is fully tracked at all times, with the character telling you when and what you have bump into. As if this isn't disconcerting enough you can also hear strange sounds; initially growling and snarling noises, all around you; as well as the fixed-point pleas for your return from your companion, which come from different directions as you blunder around. And this is where BlindSide really pumps up the atmosphere. It uses a simulated surround-sound technique to conjure up a very real sounding sound-scape that really does make you feel immersed in this featureless world of darkness. 

You need to play with headphones on to get the propper game-play effect, and I strongly suggest a blindfold. You can just close your eyes but you will open them at some point, ruining the atmosphere. 

In the perpetual darkens your imagination quickly begins to fill in the missing visuals, and ultimately imagination is far superior to any graphics anyone could possibility produce! The lack of graphics really is a major feature of this game and defenetly not just a gimmick.
I would heartily recommend this!

Now for something similar that I’ve only ever seen in proof-of-concept type videos and articles...
Deep Sea: Described by one reviewer as "The scariest game ever"

An 'Independent Propeller Award' finalist, this audio-only offering takes the sensory deprivation experience to the next level. The played dons the rather sinister looking modified gas mask contraption, which includes noise-cancellation headphones along with blacked-out eye holes. This plunges the player into complete darkness and silence, it also increases a sense of claustrophobia, as breathing is laboured through the mask This is all designed to illicit a fear response even before the game begins.

A flight-stick like joystick is then placed in the players hand and the game starts.

The actual premiss of the game is terrifying simple. You have to track and locate an unseen foe underwater through the use of a sonic ping. A series of recorded audio messages will help you towards your pray by providing simple instructions like "It's far to the left," and that's pretty much it. Well, apart from a little audio trickery the game plays on you. Microphones in the mask pick up the players breathing and loop an exaggerated version of this back to then over the games audio, increasing the players sense of panic.

It's the oppressive mask and the almost instant sense of claustrophobic fear that really make the game, the audio is only the last tool used to pump up the players imagination into overdrive.
So this 'game' really isn't anything you should expect to see out on the wii (or anything else) any time soon!

Papa Sangre: and now something for those of you using iOS...

'You are lost, deep in the darkness of the land of the dead. Your eyes are useless to you here — but your ears are filled with sound. And what is it you can hear … ?'
So says the blurb of  Papa Sangre another rather strange little game,  for the iOS systems.

From what I can make out, you are dead and  this all seems to be set in a rather macabre underworld...
Your movement is controlled by touch-screen, with you swiping, runing and tapping your fingers over variouis controll markers on the screen in time to walk forwards and turn left or right etc. It's quite an involved but also quite intuative controll system, once you get started. You can't really play this with your eyes shut though, which is a shame because that aspect seems to add so much to the previous games.
A real-time '3D audio' engine is used to provide the sound in this one, and it's the first game to use this type of system on a hand-held platform. Essentially more of a 'Thriller' game than the other two.
Again the storyline and game premiss is simple. You’re stuck the afterlife: in Papa Sangre’s palace to be more precise. All you know is someone is in danger and needs your help. You need to save them and escape.

So these are my Audio-game picks...
Thers a decent Wikipedia Page that covers audio-games in a much brouder range and depth of subjects if you are interested in further reading.