It’s a story of exploration and adventure. As a traveler you find yourself thrust into the City of Farhaven as it comes under attack by a mysterious fog. You must gather allies, hone your skills, and build your legend to answer A Hero’s Call. There’s just one catch, you have to do all of this with only audio cues to guide you.
A Hero’s Call is the premier title from Out of Sight Games currently on Kickstarter. After losing their sight as young adults, a blind writer and composer met a blind programmer. Bemoaning the fact that current accessible games on the market didn’t deliver the thrill of exploration and compelling narrative they sought, they decided to make their own.
The project began as a way to test game mechanics and design elements that would work for blind players. Eventually their experiment grew into a fully-fleshed out experience, on par with any blind accessible game on the market. A Hero’s Call was born.
To make the experience as immersive and rewarding as possible Out of Sight knew they wanted the game to be fully voice acted. No small task since A Hero’s Call features well over 17,000 words of spoken dialogue. As the bulk of the actual game is largely completed already, the Kickstarter funds will be used to pay the necessary voice actors for use of their talents.
Since Out of Sight is (understandably) big on games being inclusive, they are also working to expand the game’s visuals. This will allow sighted players to experience A Hero’s Call when it is released later this year. To this end they’ve added an additional programmer and a dedicated sound designer to the team.
This Is What Fantasy Sounds Like
If you are curious (as I was) about what playing an RPG without visuals might be like, the campaign features an audio-only video of one of the game’s many side-quests. Having no experience with the sound cues used to navigate the world can make for a confusing experience. It does however, make you appreciate the voice acting and ambient noises all the more. (Except for the text-to-talk robot voice, that was really jarring).
There have been a few crowdfunded games that used blindness as a game mechanic, such as Deep End Game’s upcoming horror title, Perception. Out of Sight games goes the opposite route. Instead of making the reliance on sound cues into a gimmick, A Hero’s Call is entirely authentic. The protagonist is embarking on a journey, not because of, or even in-spite of their lack sight. There is just an adventure to be had and they have no qualms about going after it.
Currently the game is still very much geared towards blind players. There aren’t any graphics or visual cues on display over on the campaign page. This makes it difficult to guess how sighted players might experience the game. That said, since most games are made to cater exclusively to sighted players, I can’t fault this one for focusing largely on their core audience.
This isn’t an RPG made inclusive for the sake of blind gamers. It’s an RPG made for blind gamers with accessibility options for sighted players. Finally, blind players can experience the joy of a truly epic RPG. Bridging this gap between blind and sighted gamers might be the greatest quest A Hero’s Call could offer.