Racing games are plain and simple. You drive a vehicle with a certain number of wheels. And you drive fast. You drive solo or with other vehicles around you. And to be frank, this formula works all the time. It’s racing, after all! But arcade racers have a bit more leeway into experimenting with the genre. Many games fail but once in a blue moon, we are greeted by a one-of-a-kind title that shakes up the arcade racing genre. Blind Drive aptly fits my philosophical monologue. I haven’t felt this way about a game since Hadr but that masterpiece is a story for another day.
Blind Drive is a single-player arcade racer that pits you against the traffic while being blindfolded. Your objective is to travel from A to B while avoiding oncoming obstacles without being able to see anything. Your hearing is your only friend and the voices in your head (in the car, more like). Complete each level and progress through the story to find out what’s happening.
Blind Drive is available for purchase on Steam.
STORY – Chaotic Good
I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and reach of Blind Drive when it came to story and narration. The short game packs some serious juice in its short adventure. Blind Drive is a wonderful but short experience. The game will last around 2-3 hours at least for a single playthrough depending on how fast you make it through all the levels. However, the time excludes your rage quit sessions, and believe me, you will go through some of them. I didn’t, but you will. Ignoring the rage quits for a moment, you will genuinely forget about the difficulty of Blind Drive whenever you hear the characters talk, and that’s the simplistic beauty of Blind Drive. You have nothing to see. No character sprites, no environments, nothing. Even the cutscenes are audio-based and the whole experience is akin to that of playing an interactive audiobook. But ten times more fun.
Going Headfirst, Completely Blind (Literally)
The story has been split into 27 levels and a few secret sectors. You are a young adult who works for a rather odd employer. At the start of the game, you receive a call from your boss who asks you to get into the car for the next “experiment”. Once you are seated, you realise that you can’t actually see anything. How it took so long for that to dawn on you, I don’t know. It’s a quirky idea and I dig it. You get another call from your boss who then launches your car headfirst into traffic. Angry, scared drivers driving toward you and all you have is the sound of their engines and horns to help you swerve away is surely going to be a harrowing experience.
The first level begins at that point and driving a certain distance progresses you to the next level. The cast of Blind Drive is a rag-tag group of voice actors. You have the protagonist; you, the evil Boss, and your Grandma. The character of Grandma is the best part about Blind Drive and I sincerely feel that we are not getting enough of Grandma. The persona has been written to perfection and has been accurately executed by the actor. Grandma is a badass and you wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. Trust me.
GAMEPLAY – As Easy As You Like It
There isn’t much to write about the gameplay in Blind Drive. One only needs to learn two buttons to play the entire game! You could use the left and right arrow keys or A and D to control the car but I, along with the game devs, recommend using a controller. You even get to feel the specially crafted micro rumbles in your controller. Speaking of controllers, there is a multitude of ways you can control the car using the gamepad. You have the standard flicking of the sticks (left or right, either one) to left or right to turn. You can also use the triggers for their corresponding directions as well as bumpers. I felt that using the left and right bumpers was the most intuitive and the most efficient control scheme to make things easier.
Closing your eyes does make you play Blind Drive better. If your character is blindfolded, you can walk down the same path too. And it really helps. There’s not much to look at on the screen anyway. You have audio cues to guide you and it’s best to play Blind Drive with headphones/earphones. The cues are fairly simple. Engines and horns indicate vehicles coming on either side. You have sirens from the ambulances and the cops. You have 3 lives to complete a level. Hitting an obstacle results in one life lost and dodging obstacles earns you points. You get a bonus life every 20 points.
You have bonuses along the way too! Hitting a bicycle earns you an extra life. Hitting an ice cream truck sends you on a crazy boost trip. There are more quirky Easter Eggs but I’ll let you discover them!
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO – Simplistic Delight
There are very few games with the graphical simplicity of Blind Drive. For a rare instance, the game actually urges you to play without anything on the screen! As absurd as it may sound, that is the route to complete immersion. Blind Drive prides itself on its audio masterclass and it is definitely the best. Hence, the visual factor barely contributes to the appeal. Nevertheless, you have a neat little gauge that swings the way you turn. You also have your health bar, your score counter and the distance covered. There are animations for hitting objects and various levels subtly change the UI on the screen. Overall, the graphics are simple and 100% effective in doing what they are supposed to do.
The sound design is the signature feature of Blind Drive. Every sound, effect, and dialogue feels like it’s happening right next to you. The voices have been perfectly mixed and contrasted with the setting. The directional audio works perfectly well and in sync with the game mechanics. When the windows are rolled up, the traffic noises are dampened. When the ambulance passes you, you feel the Doppler Effect (ask Sheldon Cooper). Driving through pedestrians feels awfully realistic, especially when your objective is to squash them like pancakes (Grandma said that. Not me). All in all, Blind Drive‘s sound design is a work of art.
Blind Drive was reviewed on PC via Steam with a key provided by Game If You Are.