I’m a bit of an Xbox guy and indie game guy so when Microsoft announces that it’s releasing over 70 brand-new game demos on Xbox One via its ID@Xbox program, I already know that I’m going to try playing as many as I can. I haven’t checked out all 73 yet–I’m only about halfway through the list–but one in particular stood out to me: The Vale: Shadow of the Crown from developer Flying Squirrel.
While the demo was downloading, I quickly skimmed through the description of the game. In The Vale, you play as Alex, a woman who’s the second born in a royal family–essentially the backup if something terrible happens to the first kid. But because she’s blind, Alex hasn’t had the same type of upbringing as her older brother. In fact, her father seemingly doesn’t want anything to do with her. So when she’s old enough, Alex’s uncle (a fellow second born) takes her away to be the warden of a small castle on the outskirts of the kingdom. 500 miles into the journey, Alex and her uncle are attacked and she’s separated from him. Alex decides her best course of action is to make her way home but as she sets out, she runs into a shepherd that informs her that an invading army is occupying the land between where she is and her brother’s castle.
My initial thoughts were that it sounded like a very typical setup for a fantasy-based RPG, save for the main character being blind. But this isn’t the first video game to feature a blind protagonist–typically they rely on some form of magic or echolocation or technology in order to see the world in a different way so that even if the character is blind, the player can still see. That is not what The Vale is.