THOROLD - A groundbreaking PC-game where the player has to rely entirely on hearing is in its final stages of development in St Catharines, and could be ready for release within a matter of months.
The player takes on the role of a blind adventurer, trapped in hostile lands after his caravan is ambushed, and thrown into a thick medieval plot that keeps getting more intense with every footstep.
Using state-of-the-art audio tools and 3D audio, experienced developer Dave Evans has made his script come to life in The Vale, a process involving both local- and foreign talent to create one of the most ambitious hearing-only games ever made.
"When you are not having a screen to contend with, the threshold drops for the production costs. You get around having to animate facial expressions, hair... You can create a real feeling, visceral world relatively cheap. You close your eyes and immerse yourself in the experience", he tells Thorold News.
The game features the usual bag of intense melee combat, side-quests in villages where the sounds of cattle and roaming villagers surround the player who has to make their way through action-packed scenarios such as escaping from a burning barn on horseback, or fend off enemies appearing randomly throughout the roughly five hours of gameplay.
Some final announcements will be made at a game developers conference in San Francisco later this spring, when a hard launch date is expected.
Many of the voices heard in the game are from Toronto, but some overseas voice talent was recruited too, to give a wide variety of accents.
"The quality of the voice acting is very important since it is an audio-only experience."
The game writing has also been challenging.
While the feedback from the visually impaired community has been positive, it has taken more than just a blind character to impress the most hardcore crowd, who have been playing traditional video games for many years to the best of their abilities.
"It is a split in the community. There are people who play games for the seeing population, who are happy to have another title to play. Representation and empowerment means very little to the,/ It is a bit of a trope for them since they are always playing blind characters, so it was a challenge to write a character that had more to them than being blind".
As a developer in tune with accessibility, Dave says his ultimate goal is to design a role-playing game where a disability is among the traits the player can chose from when designing their own character, affecting the entire game experience.
The Vale, he says, isn't by far only catered for the visually impaired, but for anyone wanting to test their senses in an action packed fantasy-adventure.
"I want this to be about empathy, the experience and transporting yourself in the experience, as much as it is about being accessible."