The Blind House

by Amanda Allen

2010

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Number of Reviews: 9
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Creepy horror game that plays with the idea of puzzlefests, December 31, 2021
by Sono

So, you're in a house staying with a acquaintance after an incident left you with nowhere else to go. Maybe you have some ideas of how you should behave, or about what kind of houseguest to be. But, you're not playing as you. You're playing as Helena.

I think this is an interesting game to contrast with non-IF games. The closest equivalent to it I can think of is horror RPG maker games such as Ib, without a obvious goal but to go around solving puzzles anyway. The Blind House is less dreamlike with its grounded setting inside someone's home where you interact with mundane objects. You have puzzles such as how to fill a vase with flowers, how to cover an annoyingly bright window, and more traditionally slightly-insane IF puzzles like figuring out what a code on a blouse corresponds to, finding the password to a computer, and figuring out how to call someone. What doesn't feel quite homely does fit what you expect out of retro IF. And on the whole, even when you realize what you're doing is strange, you have to if you want to proceed in the game. To quote Emily Short's review, "Behaving in a “normal” IF adventurer way was, within the context of the fiction, behaving in a completely creepy and unacceptable way" and that's a really fun thing to play with.

And the payoff is really great. I've found lots of horror games unwilling to explain themselves recently, but this game does not turn away from the weird shit that you've been doing in the end.

Are the puzzles fair? Eh. You'll probably need the walkthrough at some point, but it's included and not too much of a pain. A lot of smaller points are skippable if you don't explore, but the horror would not work so well if you didn't go out of your way to explore and solve these puzzles. It's impossible to get to the end without exploring, so if you find yourself relying on the walkthrough because the puzzles are impossible, I recommend playing again in a few months when you generally know what you need to do but don't remember the specifics.

Concerning problematicness, as stated by another review - the nature of this game as the player as a (Spoiler - click to show)creepy person trying to trap the victim in their own home necessitates an abuser and a victim. While I thought (Spoiler - click to show)Helena's twisted 'protectiveness' and self-justifications that could be read as romantic were a lot more cheesy and obviously evil than scary, especially compared to the her outright denial of what she was doing and the subtlety of her not being able to look in the mirror (because it was covered with bandages), I don't think that that's very out of place in a horror game. Subtextual or not, it's about someone (Spoiler - click to show)predating on someone else which is inherently creepy, and the game being about two women means that the relationship between them will be read as creepy. I don't think it came as a surprise as to what the story was building to, as you-as-Helena must do some very invasive things to reach that point. I also think a benefit is that this story is entirely about the Helena and Marissa - at full tilt, (Spoiler - click to show)the psychotic lesbian isn't a footnote or a joke or side character, she's the heart of the game, so if that's what you're looking for you can have it explored in its entirety here, and if you're not it's not a surprise what you'll be getting into.

My favorite horror moments include
(Spoiler - click to show)
Superglue disappearing from your inventory
Not being able to call anyone
The beginner's quality creepy paintings in the drawer, that Helena presumably made
White roses stained auburn
Twenty bandaids, ten for each arm


Somethings that might be better of fixed
(Spoiler - click to show)
You cannot call Marissa because you don't know anyone named Marissa... the default error message is silly when applied to people you obviously know
The phantom phone call will keep triggering whenever you step out of the room, making it a bit comical