Blind Drive Review: Active Listening

What do you do when all you have are your listening abilities to escape death? Duh... listen! Blind Drive out now on PC.

Do you ever stop for a second to listen? That’s what you categorically MUST do in Blind Drive. Since playing the demo during one of those Steam Game Festivals, I’ve been excited about this one.

As part of an experiment, you agree to be a guinea pig for a test nobody could prepare you for. It almost plays out like a kidnapping as you’re blindfolded and navigate a moving vehicle to stay alive.

Your audible guide that calls on your mobile has an ominous voice changer, no doubt disguising their identity. For a test subject, they know a little too much about you, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. What’s it all about?

Blind Drive Review

Though you’re blindfolded, there are a few items on the screen, such as your current score, how many clicks you’ve travelled and your health (not mental – that will take a hit!). They’re irrelevant as chances are, you won’t be looking at the screen.

Blind Drive - View
The view… Source: Lo-Fi People

Lo-Fi People are confident you won’t be looking at the screen as there’s also a blindfold mode available. It says it’s 10x more immersive, but that’s subjective: Blind Drive is a very alarming game in many ways, but that’s a good thing: it’s exciting.

It’s almost like an adrenaline fix as all you have at your disposal are your ears and thumb. As indicated told by the person running the test, you’re driving on the wrong side of the road and have to dodge incoming traffic purely from the hints you get from your cans.

That’s right, you 100% should play Blind Drive with headphones. I’m sure a decent speaker setup would work, but the former adds to the immersion, and you genuinely forget yourself. There will be subtle drones of speeding traffic, and you have to tap left or right to avoid it. You are the test subject, and that test is just how good is your perception?

Blind Sided

It sounds (ha!) like a gimmick and that it could potentially become boring very quickly, but that’s not the case at all. Blind Drive is narrative-driven, so the longer you survive, the more revealing the story is, giving you further insight and answering those many unanswered questions. To an extent.

…your arse will be creating such an indentation in your seat that you’ll finally cancel that gym membership

Tapping left and right is much more challenging than you think, and while nothing is happening on the screen other than counters and your health points, your arse will be creating such an indentation in your seat that you’ll finally cancel that gym membership.

But the most extensive workout you’ll receive is your eyeballs and your jaw. It’s incredible how much you look around in a fixed position, listening out for clues as if literally looking for them will help. Your jaw will be permanently open, catching flies as your total concentration goes into the sounds.

The developers are aware that you’ll be doing this – they made the game – so rather than getting cocky and/or complacent, you’ll start getting side objectives like running into cyclists or experience mind-altering substances while hooning it at silly speeds.

Blind Drive Review - Map
Road map. Source: Lo-Fi People

Pee Break

There’s a pause button constantly visible on the screen, and I’d encourage you to use it for several reasons. First of all, Blind Drive is pretty stressful, but again, in a good way that creates engagement. Should you crash into another vehicle, the sound is almost deafening, and if you’re playing with a controller with vibration, it genuinely throws you off.

Blind Drive is a personal experience and a fantastic one at that

I would go about my journey unscathed for long stretches, but the first mistake would be the catalyst to a quick succession of crashes, then death. It’s entirely true how much concentration goes into driving, especially when blindfolded.

But Blind Drive isn’t a rogue-like. There’s a fair amount of lives you get that can get restored by hitting targets when required, but if you fail, you can rejoin the journey from your last checkpoint. There are three difficulties, with Easy focusing on the story, but it’s pretty tough to ace it in one go.

Besides dropping in at various points, the incentive is to better your score from a stop position, that way, you accumulate the most mileage and subsequent score. There are no scoreboards here, but Blind Drive is a personal experience and a fantastic one at that.

Tunes For The Ride

The visual style is very calculated and perfectly emulates some trashy B-movie. That’s a massive compliment, by the way, and in no way any discredit. To save on the ink, Blind Drive has a very Grindhouse feel to it – not just the visuals but the soundtrack too.

I’d go as far and say this has a great opening radio station/soundtrack, on par with GTA Vice City: it’s superb. The starting tune is very much like The 5. 6. 7. 8’s, coincidentally featured in Tarantino’s Kill Bill, and has a very surf rock/garage sound. But there’s some bell-end boy racer music thrown in to keep you on your toes as well.

Blind Drive - Ice Cream
Ice cream, ice cream. Source: Lo-Fi People

It’s genuinely a challenging game, but an absolute thrill to play. For a game that relies so heavily on the audio, the game’s voice talent is also great, including the lead. But the standout is evidently the sound effects and the expertly crafted soundscapes when you eventually smash into another car. It’s terrifying!

Blind Drive feels as unique as when I first experienced it. Sure, you’ll more or less see everything in the first few seconds, but the things you’ll hear? Well… it’s simply sublime. One of the best sounding games I’ve played, and an equally remarkable experience at that.

Blind Drive Review Summary

There’s nothing quite like Blind Drive. I will say once again that it’s a personal experience, not in that you have to ‘shave down there’ personal, but you need to play undisturbed. It’s not the kind of game that translates for parties and streaming, though I’m sure there will be people who get a kick out of others’ reactions when they do eventually crash. Highly recommended.

The score totals a 8.5 out of 10