A trip to the arcade, short attention span included
Imagine it’s 1982. You walk into an arcade and there are dozens of stand-up machines blinking away in the dim light. You have a pocketful of quarters and an afternoon to kill. Among these machines you see a game called Blind Man’s Dungeon. The demo blinks away in front of you: a pixelated adventurer traverses the screen in wide circles, collecting treasure and vanquishing foes while a little fairy builds walls. “Interesting,” you think, and pop in a quarter.
Flash forward 30 years. Blind Man’s Dungeon is not a stand-up in an arcade. It’s on iOS. No longer must you insert a quarter… these days games can be free. Blind Man’s Dungeon makes its money from (non-intrusive) in-game advertisements. But Blind Man’s Dungeon is very much a game that belongs on a stand-up in a dim arcade, waiting to eat up your quarters. It is an arcade game to its core, a simple game that asks only one thing the player — to get a higher score.
Here’s how it works. The game’s hero, a retro warrior with two blind eyes, walks in a straight line until he hits a wall. When he does, he turns right. The only way to exert control over him is by directing a magical fairy with your finger. As you drag the fairy around the arena, it creates brick walls in its wake. When the blind hero bumps into these walls, he will turn right. So, if you want him to make his way to treasure (which is a good idea if you want a high score), then place a wall on the right tile to force him to turn towards the gold.
Once he gets that treasure, things get a little more tricky. After collecting a pile of coins, the tile that held the treasure becomes trapped, meaning your hero will lose life if he steps on it again. After playing your first game, you’ll soon realize that Blind Man’s Dungeon is more about keeping your little guy away from danger than it is about collecting treasure. If you’re not careful his life bar will be eaten up very quickly.
This dungeon arena that the blind hero traverses is also full of bad guys… skeletons and ghouls and other stock meanies that you might expect to find guarding gold. Apparently this hero is quite adept with his sword, despite his ocular disabilities. Whenever he comes into contact with a bad guy, he kills them for a few points. But enemies have another property, one far more important than the points they cede when killed. If bad guys walk over a trap, it kills them and deactivates the trap, meaning they’re better alive than killed by the hero. In addition to guiding the hero into treasure, you must also simultaneously try to guide bad guys into traps. This can get a little hectic.
Which you’ll probably discover after downloading the game. It’s free and its fairly decent, so there’s no reason not to give it a shot. You might have fun, even if only for a few minutes. And therein lies the problem. This is an arcade game, the sort you might have plunked a quarter into at a dimly lighted arcade. It is also the sort of arcade game you might not play again after spending that first quarter because there’s a whole lot of other games to play in that arcade. Unless Blind Man’s Dungeon hooks you, there’s not a whole lot here. It’s fun to a point, but after 15 minutes I found myself playing not because I wanted to, but because I had to for this review.
That said, I also had some issues with the controls. There were points when I found myself frustrated with my block laying fairy — moments where I felt the poor blind hero took damage not because I reacted too slowly, but because the controls were a little sloppy. But I won’t go as far to say they were so sloppy as to ruin the experience. Blind Man’s Dungeon isn’t bad, and, whatever the case, with a zero dollar price tag, there is no reason not to download it and judge for yourself. It’s certainly pretty. And I’ll admit I did try pretty hard to beat my highscore.