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(based on 38 ratings)
About the Story
I scarcely know the woman at my side. I don't even know why she was the one I turned to. I can only hope that we haven't been followed, that she won't ask too many questions. The only choice left to me now is to trust her.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Current Version: 1
Development System: Inform 7
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
4th Place overall; 3rd Place, Miss Congeniality Awards - 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2010)
Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2010 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 9
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There's a lot to like about The Blind House. The writing is elegant and atmospheric. The characterization is strong. The player has only three brief conversations with Marissa, but everything in her house tells us something about her -- her paintings, the books on her bookshelf, the videos she watches. The player character, Helena, is more of an enigma, but she's supposed to be. The horror aspect is also done well. It relies more on implication than on shock or gory descriptions; throughout the game's series of unsettlingly surreal episodes there's a build-up of dread leading to a climax that's less a shock than a confirmation of the player's worst suspicions.
The gameplay works well for what it's supposed to do, which is to supplement the story without distracting from it (puzzle fans will want to look elsewhere). It's generally clear what you're supposed to do and where you're supposed to go, but the game doesn't overdo the hand-holding. There were a few things I still felt a sense of accomplishment for working out, but I'm pretty terrible at this stuff, so that may just be me.
I have only one problem with the game overall -- and unfortunately it's hard to discuss without mentioning the endings, so please forgive me for the spoilers.
There are vague, but definitely present, homoerotic undertones to the relationship between Helena and Marissa, which makes the whole thing come off as "predatory psychotic lesbian (Spoiler - click to show)stalks, hurts, and possibly kills the object of her affections." The fact that the place where these undertones are most obvious is the ending where (Spoiler - click to show)Helena kills Marissa (while lying on top of her on a bed, no less) really does not help here. I feel a little bad complaining about this (after all, lesbians can be crazy just like anyone else can), but the "predatory psychotic lesbian" thing has a long and sordid history as the most common portrayal of lesbians in fiction. This game feels like a bit of a throwback to the days of Mrs. Danvers and the like, and the fact that it's all kept on a subtextual level only adds to that.
I don't mean to suggest that the author played into this stereotype on purpose; I know how easy it is to stumble into these things without meaning to. But it left a bad taste in my mouth in a game I otherwise quite enjoyed.
"The Blind House" is reminiscent of suspenseful short stories by authors such as Ruth Rendell. In this game, you play a disturbed individual, tormented by recent events in your life. You are entering the home of an old classmate from college, who is allowing you to stay with her. She is a timid type of person, and seems most anxious to make you comfortable. She is one of the few people you trust, and you felt compelled to call on her in your time of need. You feel unsafe out in the world. And you're exhausted. All you want is to lock yourself away in the dark and to sleep. But even sleep, it seems, is unsafe. For when you awaken, you find yourself bleeding, and the items in your room displaced. Your paranoia increases.
It's morning of the next day. Your friend is out and you have the empty house to yourself. Your mind is full of unanswered questions. And thus begins your search for understanding. But be forewarned as you embark, for in this search you may uncover a darker evil than you had first imagined.
"The Blind House" is a beautiful and disturbing short work of fiction. It is basically puzzleless, and is thus best enjoyed when approached as a story, rather than a game. There is plenty of opportunity for free exploration during portions of the game, but after certain tasks are completed, the story takes over. NPC interaction is limited to multiple choice lists of pre-written dialogue, but this seems to work well in this particular game. "The Blind House" is best enjoyed when approached with an open mind. And it's definitely worth a replay or two (there are interesting clues throughout the story which will more appreciated after having reached the end.)
I liked the sense of mystery introduced in this piece--coming in from the rain, Estelle, just nosing around someone else's life.
The introductory section struck me as a little purple-prosey, but by the end, the writing either improved (injecting a lot of atmosphere without any cheesiness) or I stopped noticing any flourishy bits.
Here's where I'm lost: even though the author states that this is an interactive story, and more about your interpretation than puzzles...I didn't really feel like I got all the stuff I needed to construct my own background.
In particular, (Spoiler - click to show)I couldn't even tell if I was real or not. Some little bits made me think that hey--maybe I'm a figment of this gal's imagination or a separate personality?--but other evidence seems to point to the idea that I'm real and abusive. Or maybe I killed the houseowner in the first scene??. And I couldn't quite figure out how Estelle fit into all this. And I really WANTED to know.
It's pretty well-implemented, and there's a couple of interesting things to do (like (Spoiler - click to show)replacing the dry flowers in the bathroom with the roses...which I might have dyed with hair dye??), and overall, you'll enjoy snooping around someone else's house for an evening.
But the interpretive aspect of the work/work's meaning just didn't do it for me.
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