Pixel Hearts Studios’ horror game Vanished gives players aural cues to help them navigate through the fantasy world, while their eyes stay shut.
It takes a certain amount of gumption to make a video game without any visuals. In the era of Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, where graphics are part of the reason to play games, Vanished is relying solely on sound. Of course, Vanished is not a console game but a mobile app game, but even then, visual cues are generally considered important on smartphones and yet this app game’s first instruction tells players to close their eyes.
The premise is that players have awoken to discover that the world has gone dark. Each level they can hear sounds and must walk ‘towards’ a certain sound by tapping their phone’s screen. The game – which is currently iPhone only – uses the phone’s accelerometer and compass to gauge a player’s movement. The immersive game forces people to use their imagination and create their own gaming world. It is eerie and scary, and at moments you do feel as if you are walking along an abandoned street towards the sound of police sirens.
The creators Marco Corradini, creative director and Alessandro Cuzzocrea game producer at Pixel Hearts studio explain on the website:
We think that imagination is the most powerful hardware a game needs, so we tried to develop something that is build totally around it. The game itself is only part of the experience. It’s your imagination that creates the world in which you play. No graphic. No images. No walls.