Monday, 23 June 2014

Inquisitor’s Heartbeat: the first roguelike for blind people

This is one of the most genuinely intriguing games I've covered on indiegamenews.com for a very long time... perhaps ever!  It's a game designed to be played equally by blind and sighted people - although sighted people are in for a major culture shock without any visual clues.  I tried the press-only demo for a while and it's quite fascinating, and predictably I was pretty awful at it.  I did get through the first few bits, though I'm pretty sure it was more by luck than judgement.  I was a little perturbed that all 3 characters other than the player character sounded extremely similar, but the audio experience was fascinating - you really had to listen to the difference in your foot steps, the squeaking of bats, the dripping of water, and of course the repeated thuds as you walked into the wall over and over again!

Anyway, enough from me - here's the press release:


Imagine taking one of your favorite games, maybe a roguelike, and playing it with your eyes closed… could you handle the challenge?

That’s the problem that many blind people face whenever they deal with a “traditional” game. However, in recent years, several games that don’t rely on the visuals to be playable started to surface. The problem is, those games are everything but cheap.
Here at RisingPixel we didn’t want to create a game that would be adapted for blind people later. Instead, we designed and developed a game that could be playable by blind and sighted people as is. For the first time ever blind players can actually experience a real and non-discriminatory adventure game. On the other and, sighted players will experience a whole new way to play a game as they won’t have any visuals to rely on.

Features

  • More than 35 levels, divided in 7 different sound scenarios, for a total of more than 6 hours of gameplay in Story Mode
  • 3D Audio
  • Dynamic music and background sounds bound to the gameplay situation
  • Cutscenes and dialogs with professional voice actors
  • Roguelike elements: turns, grid movement, procedural maps, permadeath.
     

Description


Inquisitor's Heartbeat is a roguelike designed for blind and sighted people alike, namely a videogame (an “audio game”, actually) in which your goal is to find a safe route out of dungeons by relying on your hearing and orientation skills only.

Release information

Inquisitor’s Heartbeat is out now on PC/MAC in English and in Italian, by the online shop for blind people AudioGame.it at the following link:

iOS version (iPhone and iPad) will be avaiable on Apple Store from the end of July 2014.



This is one of those projects that you read about and really want to succeed.  Apart from blind players, their families and interested sighted players, I can definitely see this game having a role in education.  Having to rely on your memory and orientation perception - which in my case are both pretty bad! - is a real change and makes you realise just how much you rely on your sight - and how much you take for granted.  In the same way that one-touch games have made gaming more accessible to the physically impaired, this game could set a precedent for games allowing the visually impaired to enter the gaming world on a level that was previously unavailable to them.


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