If you were sitting at the dinner table and you asked a group of sighted friends what they look for in a great gaming experience, you would probably get comments such as great graphics, fast action, and possibly a good plot. If you asked a group of blind friends the same question, the first answer you would get would probably be an immersive audio experience with action and plot coming later. But what if you could have a game that included all of the above? Now that would be something worth getting excited about. Truth is, to find such a game you don’t have to look any further than AudioWizards from MyTrueSound.
In AudioWizards, you are an inhabitant of the world of Sondveiw. Evil forces are using elemental powers to attempt to invade your world. Along with your teacher, professor Saundaman, you must push these forces back. Actually, the good professor doesn’t do any fighting. He prefers to drink tea! He is a wealth of knowledge, though, and you really can’t complete your assignment without his help.
In the game, the evil forces—we’ll just call them monsters from now on—come at you in the form of audio distortions. Don’t ask me to explain that further. I can’t, and it doesn’t really matter much anyway! The point of AudioWizards is that you must identify the sound of the elemental spell being launched against you and fight it with a stronger elemental spell.
Game play is quite simple in concept, and quite difficult in practice. The first thing you must understand is which element is stronger than another. In the tutorial section of the game, you learn that fire beats earth, water beats fire, lightning beats water, and earth beats lightning. In a simple example of game play, you hear footsteps coming straight at you—headphones or earbuds are a must for playing AudioWizards. The footsteps represent the Earth element. You must swipe up on your iOS device—an iPhone 8 Plus in my case—to select the fire element, and then you will swipe up again to launch the elemental spell against the monster coming at you. Next, you might hear footsteps coming toward you from the right. In that case, you would swipe up to select the fire element, and then swipe right to launch the spell at the approaching monster. Next, you might hear the sound of the fire element coming at you from the left, so you would need to swipe right to select the water element, and then swipe left to launch the spell. Things can get really interesting when you have monsters coming at you from different directions all at once. You must identify the approaching element, determine which elemental spell you must use to attack the approaching intruder, and then carry out the sequence of actions required to launch the attack.
Swipe up to select the fire element, right to select water, down to select lightning, and left to select earth. The game operates in landscape mode on your iOS device, so you have plenty of room to maneuver.
The game contains two play modes—Story Mode and Endless mode. In Story Mode, you are guided level by level through the plot of the game. You are introduced to your eccentric but loveable teacher, learn about your enemies, and discover some unsettling truths about your world along the way. You will quickly learn that Professor Saundaman’s obsession with tea can be a bit of a hindrance to the success of your mission. Once you have completed the story proper, you have the opportunity to complete bonus levels to try to locate your teacher, who has gone missing. Curiosity might not be deadly to cats alone.
In Endless Mode, you engage in classic arcade-style action, trying to beat level after level of attacks. I was surprised to discover that the professor actually shows up in Endless Mode as well, although he doesn’t tell a story but simply encourages you as you go. In addition to the super spell available in the game’s Story Mode, you unlock wizarding hats in Endless Mode that give you extra strength and bonus points.
The game provides some explore-by-touch options such as determining your level of strength and how many lives you have left, but you won’t have a lot of time to check those stats, so you’d better move fast!
It's rare to find a game whose voice acting is as good as that found in AudioWizards. I found myself genuinely liking the teacher, and a couple of the evil villains made my adrenaline pump as they came at me. There is no profanity or extreme violence in the game, so adults shouldn’t be concerned about younger players being frightened by the action. The sound designers did a phenomenal job with the audio in this title, and the music is of a high enough quality that I never turned the volume down even though it might have aided me in identifying approaching monsters. Blind musicians were allowed to submit samples of their work for inclusion in the game, and all of the music has been produced by the blind community. One addition to the game that I believe would be of benefit would be a Learn Sounds option. While it could be argued that players will learn sounds during game play, thereby heightening the challenge, I would suggest that allowing players to focus on the sounds of various elements without the distraction of game play would be of benefit and not decrease the enjoyment of the game at all.
Postgame Wrap Up
If you're looking for an immersive and immensely replayable game, check out AudioWizards from MyTrueSound. Available for iOS at just $3.99 in the United States, this game is quite responsive on my iPhone 8 Plus. VoiceOver stays running, but never gets in the way of game play. Kudos to the game developers for allowing the blind community to participate in the production of this game from music to sound design. There are basic cartoon-style graphics available for those with vision as well.
Now if the game developers could just find a way to provide a complimentary cup of hot tea along with each copy of the game, I would give this title a 5-star rating. In all seriousness, there is a lot to love about this game and almost nothing to suggest as far as improvements are concerned. Since at least one game update added more bonus levels to the game’s Story Mode, perhaps future updates will include more content. One can only hope that the success of this game will allow its developers to work on other titles as well. Something like Shades of Doom or GMA Tank Commander, perhaps? Now here I go traveling down memory lane. Perhaps that’s a topic for a future issue of AccessWorld. In the meantime, happy gaming!
This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.
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