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The Blind Prophet

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Ars Goetia Games
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2020

About Lauren "Feffy" Hall

I am a freelance writer based in Canada, where it's too cold to go outside; therefore, we play a lot of video games. I'm an expert zombie slayer (the virtual kind), amateur archer (for actual zombie slaying and general apocalypse purposes - it could happen), and a work-in-progress wife and mother (IRL). My claim to fame: I completed the original MYST without looking up cheats. It took several years. What other accomplishments does one need in life?


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'The Blind Prophet'

by Lauren "Feffy" Hall on Dec. 19, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

The Blind Prophet is a point & click adventure/puzzle game set in a tragically blunt and mature universe that will challenge and provoke you to think about the importance of our existence, good, evil and sacrifice.

The Blind Prophet, a story-driven, point-and-click game developed and published by Ars Goetia, comes vibrantly to life through impressive art, puzzle-solving, and thoughtful exploration. In a beautifully hand-drawn, graphic novel-like world, you play as the Apostle Bartholomeus, whose mission is to cleanse the city of Rotbork from a rapidly spreading, disturbingly evil corruption.

Bartholomeus has a particular knack for doing this by using his ancient, holy sword, which "schlacks" through demons with exceptionally gory precision and finesse. While there's no actual player-controlled combat in this narrative-driven title, the combat scenes — which are really more like combat still frames — are still pretty action-packed. Each scene unveils itself like the turn of a page in a comic book, propelling you forward in the plot.

There's more to Bartholomeus than stellar swordsmanship and a bad boy swagger, though. He's instantly strange, arriving at the port cradled in a piece of bark in the harbor, lying down in an ancient, funeral procession-like fashion, sword lain across his chest. He is missing an eye, if the game's title had not clued you in on that trait already, and is so painfully cool that it's no surprise when you learn he is actually sent from God.

In terms of gameplay, Bartholomeus also has an ability called "apostle's sight," which illuminates actionable objects, people, and areas in the frame, many of which are required to advance to the next part of the story. The actionable items can provide some colorful text and flavor to the story.

In The Blind Prophet, your only way of interacting with the world or advancing from screen to screen is by clicking on particular objects or people, and using the observe, use, take, or discuss actions that become available. Attempting all of these can often provide hints about what to do next, or even, at times, foreshadowing in the plotline.

When you are actually able to physically take something — and if this occurs, it's pretty likely that the object in question is needed for a puzzle later on — it appears in your inventory. You can also combine items in your inventory to create a new item, but this appears to only be a viable option when a combined item is vital to solving a puzzle.

The puzzles in the game were mostly challenging, which is a promising sign of things to come, as any good puzzle title should have you itching to find a walkthrough when you get hopelessly stuck. In The Blind Prophet, failing to solve a puzzle correctly sometimes results in death. This is actually fine, since you simply reload to the last screen before the puzzle, with seemingly no penalty besides reloading the puzzle over and over again until you finally solve it.

There were some puzzles that seemed to be solved without much thought at all, and some that really had me stumped. It wasn't always clear what to do, and since you couldn't go back to explore other frames and return with more information, those puzzles were often solved by trial and error, which isn't the mark of a great puzzle. This was not every puzzle, however, as many of them were real humdingers. My only wish was that I could reload a previous save to find out what information I missed.

There are currently no graphics options, but perhaps that will change at launch. Hopefully, there will be some, and really, it's something that should always be available. My monitor, which is shamefully ancient but still works for most games, has an admittedly uncommon aspect ratio of 16:10, and the lack of video options of any kind meant that a part of my screen was cut off on either side in this game. With this game in particular, that could be detrimental to my progression, as I could be missing a multitude of necessary objects or pieces of information, causing me to be unable to complete it.

There were a couple minor bugs as well, but likely nothing that can't be fixed prior to launch. I had to erase my game entirely and restart because I accidentally went a little click-crazy (a little something I like to call puzzlegameritis) sending myself back a frame, after which I couldn't return to the next one for some reason. Also, as I mentioned, there is currently no "save" or "reload" option; instead, when you die or boot up your game, you load where you left off. In fact, the only options, besides choosing either English (British) or French subtitles, were to erase your game or exit. There are no sound options, no graphics options, and no key mapping.

This is further evidence to me that the game and storyline is fairly linear, in a similar style to those of Telltale Games and its ilk. To be clear, those are great games, and The Blind Prophet has an equally compelling story to tell, so that's not a criticism. But it is fair to mention that if you are looking for a player-driven RPG adventure, this may not fit the bill. If you want a puzzle game that will leave you bashing your head into your keyboard in frustration, as many gamers are wont to desire, you're on the right track with The Blind Prophet.

While the puzzles and entertaining storyline are on par with other games of this type, The Blind Prophet really shines in the exquisite, beautifully rich palette and noir style artwork. Each frame is hand-drawn, adding to the originality and individual flavor of the game, and plays out like a graphic novel brought to life. The vibrant colors and stark contrast were an absolute pleasure to experience, and they fit with the story and theme really well.

The Blind Prophet has real promise as a narrative adventure game. Although there are a few wrinkles to iron out, as well as a desperate need for some gameplay options, the story, paired with the aesthetics and overall feel, leave this puzzle game fanatic hopeful for The Blind Prophet's Jan. 10, 2020 release date.

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