Review – Blind Drive
Can you imagine playing an arcade game where there are no visuals? You read that right; this is a game in which whatever is onscreen actually doesn’t help you at all. You’re even encouraged by the developers to play with your eyes closed in order to pay extra attention to its sound design. Furthermore, imagine if this arcade game is also heavily story-based and filled with dark humor to top things off. This game exists, it is called Blind Drive, and it’s one of the weirdest (and best) games I’ve played in 2021 so far.
You play as a man accepting the role of a test subject in a supposed experiment, but he suddenly finds out he’s in some kind of mad situation, as he’s handcuffed and blindfolded inside an automatically accelerating car that just so happens to be driving on the opposite side of the road. Your objective is simple: you need to survive. You need to avoid incoming traffic, even though you have no way to actually see any incoming vehicles. That’s when Blind Drive shines the brightest, as this game is basically all about its sound design.
Blind Drive uses to 3D audio to create awareness. Everything revolves around listening to incoming traffic with your headphones (if you use your PC’s speakers, you’re basically going to die almost instantly). You hear an engine noise approaching on your right speaker? Turn left. Do the opposite if you hear an incoming car with your left speaker. That’s basically the core gameplay loop, but Blind Drive does add some extra features to constantly make your life harder, but also one neat little thing to make your life easier.
Throughout the entire game, you’ll be constantly called by a mysterious individual behind this shady experiment, who’ll taunt you and make things even more difficult for you. For instance, he’ll occasionally turn on the radio, muffling outside noise, forcing you to pay extra attention to any incoming vehicles. He’s not entirely a bad person, however, as he tells you that if you end up hitting someone riding a bicycle, you’ll actually get an extra life point. The thing is, you’ll basically have half a millisecond to deduce whether or not you’re about to hit a car or a bicycle. Blind Drive is insanely difficult and I love it.
The game rewards you with occasional bits of dialogue, which are a complete delight. The script is drenched in amazingly dark humor and downright absurdity. Whenever you think things couldn’t get any more idiotic, Blind Drive dials it up even further. Add in the fact you’ll probably be listening to it with your eyes closed, and the result is basically a podcast that makes any Dan Harmon script sound tame in comparison.
Although you’re supposed to play the game with your eyes closed, that doesn’t mean that Blind Drive‘s ultra-minimalistic visuals are inherently bad. They get the job done with a polished and efficient HUD, as well as occasional trippy effects during scripted sequences and some easter egg sections. You can actually turn the visuals off entirely if you want by toggling an switch in the options menu.
My only big complaint with Blind Drive is the fact that it’s a bit too brief. I wanted more of its insanity. I never thought a game about driving against traffic with my eyes literally closed could not only exist, but become one of my favorite indie titles from 2021. It’s hard to convey how good the game is without visual proof, but rest assured, this is one demented little title worth taking a look. Or worth hearing, whichever you prefer.
For a game about not being able to see what’s in front of you, Blind Drive does feature some occasionally trippy imagery. Its HUD is also polished and efficient. That being said, you literally play this game with your eyes closed. In fact, it even improves the overall experience.
All you need to do is move left or right, but the way the gameplay is perfectly tied to the sound design is nothing short of brilliant. I do appreciate how the way the controller rumbles also helps indicating when a car is approaching.
Blind Drive is all about its sound design. It perfectly utilizes 3D audio to create spatial awareness and an entire gameplay loop that revolves around your ears, and nothing else. You can literally play this game without using your eyes at all. To top things off, its voice acting is hilarious.
Fun Factor: 9.0
A hilarious and completely unique experience. Blind Drive is the perfect mix between avantgarde art, dark humor, and some good old arcade fun. My only gripe is that it’s painfully short. I wanted more shenanigans.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Blind Drive is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Blind Drive was provided by the publisher.