Lately, I’ve been yearning to feel that exhilaration when you encounter something new – like a challenging new enemy in an action game or an imaginative new class in an RPG.

After playing an early demo of The Vale, an upcoming title by Falling Squirrel, I can’t come down from that rush. This game is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. The Vale is an audio-only innovative experience announced earlier this year.

It’s probably the closest game can get to simulate what’s it like being blind (in the middle-ages). Check out a brief gameplay segment.

The Vale has no visuals except for the menus, which are also accessible to blind gamers thanks to a voice reading you the options and telling you which keys to press. Instead of the explosive visuals you’d expect from an action game, you only see phosphene – the little orbs of light that appear when you close your eyes.

I decided to try and play the demo with my eyes closed. You don’t really need them until you hear “the Vale Demo is over, thank you for playing.” Since you’re going to need to listen carefully to navigate the game, it’s highly recommended you use good headphones.

You play as Alex, the second-in-line to the throne and blind from birth. You start the game in a carriage with your uncle, traveling to your kingdom’s borders after your brother was crowned king. While on-route, you hear the sounds of a horde of enemies approaching and the carriage stops.

You can hear the carriage destroyed around you as you slip into a distant memory of you and your brother playing a variant of Blind man’s bluff. Your brother (and future king) encourages you to hit him with your cane, which acts as the game’s tutorial. The controls are intuitive enough to get the hang of them pretty quickly without needing time to adjust.

The Vale
This is a screenshot from The Vale, not a glitch.

For the rest of The Vale demo, your uncle and entourage are presumed dead, and you are lost at the edge of your kingdom with nothing but the clothes on your back. However, you’re not helpless. You begin to remember fighting techniques your uncle taught you, like how to detect approaching enemies and when and how to hit back with your sword.

You also get to explore a village with merchants and an inn with quest givers. The interactions are initiated by approaching the source of a sound an NPC makes: a hammer hitting an anvil, for example, indicates you found the local blacksmith.

Once I finished the demo, I opened my eyes and only wanted to share the experience with as many people as I could. Luckily for you, anyone can request access to The Vale demo. I recommend you try it for yourself.

As of now, the only playable segments are the short story demo and the tutorials. The full game will feature more than five hours of gameplay with a gripping story supported by top-tier voice actors, some are visually-impaired themselves.

The Vale will be available on Steam in early 2020.

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