Blindfold: review

Created as a VR companion piece to indie title 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, Blindfold is a very brief but sobering experience. As with Black Friday, it is based on, and takes place during, the Iranian Revolution of January 1978 to February 1979. Blindfold is restricted to a single sequence, placing you into the role of a bound and gagged political prisoner.

A single run through is quick, perhaps just five minutes. You begin with a bag over your head, which is soon removed to reveal a sparse and dirty cell. Directly in front of you, a small table, on which lies a few items; including a phony confession awaiting your signature. Sitting across the table from you is another prisoner, blindfolded and beaten. It’s not long before the warden enters, and your interrogation begins.

Naturally, Blindfold does not seek to replicate the experience of being intimidated and tortured. That would be both morally dubious and completely impossible. However, it does open the door to that world just enough for you to have a sliver of understanding. As the warden questions you (this warden, played by an actor, is the real-life warden of Iran’s notorious Evin prison, Asadollah Lajevardi), all that is required of you is to answer his questions by nodding or shaking your head. Respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’. That’s it.

Your fellow captive is used as both carrot and stick in an effort to get you to comply.

On a technical note, subtle nods and shakes of the head are not recognised, which can briefly break the immersion. That’s really beside the point, however. When the game does recognise your actions, Lajevardi responds immediately, keeping things realistic and flowing at a horribly leisurely pace.

In this way, things can unfold slightly differently (most markedly at the end) depending on your responses, which encourages a few playthroughs. There are even trophies for either consistently cooperating with, or frustrating, your inquisitor. It’s not a game, however – and nor does it pretend to be.

Blindfold is an educational piece. While the interrogation experience offers a few drops of information regarding the Iranian Revolution and political prisoners in oppressive regimes in general, the real hit comes at the end, when you are presented with photographs of, and text related to, various journalists and activists around the world. Each is a short tale of an individual killed or imprisoned simply for doing their job, and/or trying to make the world a better place. The most recent example given is from 2017, and there are no shortage of examples to be found this year, whenever you are reading this.

If you own a compatible headset, there’s no reason not to give this a try. The price of entry is less than a cup of coffee, and it’s a powerful way to help keep your worldview grounded. Who knows? You might even learn something.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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