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The progress that large video game publishers are making with low vision or sightless accessibility is impressive. High-profile titles like The Last of Us Part II and Microsoft Flight Simulator are inspiring and exciting. However, games designed from the ground up for players with low vision or without sight offer many a more satisfying experience.We’ve worked with Aaron Spelker on this list of games that offer a bespoke experience for low-vision or sightless players. This has expanded our database search for Play Without Sight and added a new Play Without Sight with VoiceOver criteria. These games offer experiences that entertain, intrigue and challenge players through spatial audio, text-to-speech and voice work. We’re excited about the games here, but first, we want to share Aaron’s story.Aaron is an author (The Bubonic Reorder), commentator, accessible game reviewer and father. He runs the Apple iPhone iOS Voiceover Compatible Games Facebook page where vision-impaired members discover a wide variety of games, swap tips and answer questions.He has loved console games his entire life. But two and a half years ago, he lost his sight in an accident. “One day I was sighted; the next day I was blind,” as he puts it. He soon sat down to play The Last of Us: Part 2, in the hope of finding an entertaining accessible game but found that the “gameplay felt hollow and unsatisfying”. “The Last of Us: Part 2 has done something exceptional with its extensive accessibility efforts. In fact, I feel guilty that I failed to have a fun experience with the game,” he told us. “But I realized that I was comparing my blind gameplay with my sighted gameplay from earlier years. Playing graphics-rich games as a blind person ultimately made me feel inadequate and depressed. I was so distraught by the interaction that I packed up the controller and have not played a console system since.”However, my desire to play games did not dissipate. I longed to get lost in a game world. With the loss of my sight, I needed that distraction from life’s daily struggles even more. I began searching the internet for accessible video games for the blind and vision impaired. He found a deep pool of accessible games on smartphones such as the iPhone and started to work through its catalogue. “While playing these games, I became thoroughly familiar with the iPhone's VoiceOver screen reader. This accessibility tool allows a blind person to have any text on the phone screen read out loud through a series of swipes and taps.” There were games that went beyond the commonly accessible text adventures, word puzzles and dice games. They were immersive games with 3D Worlds, like A Blind Legend and A Detective’s Demise. Or adventure games where the vision-impaired gamer fought enemies, like A Dark Room. There were also action games where you drove cars (Blind Drive), manage sports teams (Football Chairman Pro) and fight dragons (Swordy Quest).“They allowed me to reestablish my love of video games because they are primarily focused on the gameplay rather than high-quality graphics. Therefore, vision-impaired players do not feel left out or left behind. The vision-impaired player can have the same game experience as the sighted player. For me, this was what I needed. It increased my gaming confidence and enjoyment. While I loved 40 years of sighted gaming, I have now found a rich community of non-vision games and gamers to engage with for my next 40 years.” This list includes 24 games from the last 12 years, with 170 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play without using your eyes.
Release Date: 10/03/2021
Out Now: Android, PC and iOS
Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On
Blind Drive is a driving adventure game you play with audio rather than visuals. You are Donnie and are in a scientific study that has got out of control. You find yourself cuffed to the wheel of a car driving blindfolded against traffic. It's tongue in...
Release Date: 16/04/2015, updated in 2016
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS
Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person and Text
Lifeline is a narrative adventure where you interact with an astronaut, Taylor via text messages. You help him return home after crashing his aircraft on a foreign planet.
Release Date: 10/06/2013, updated in 2019
Out Now: Switch, Web and iOS
Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds
Components: Open World and Text
A Dark Room is an adventure where you try and survive in the wild. The world is depicted with just text but leads you into a dense narrative with intriguing visitors and a steadily expanding world. It has a simple start – a single option to stoke a...
Release Date: 07/11/2018
Out Now: Android and iOS
Frequency Missing is a point-and-click adventure. You play young radio reporter Patricia who has just started her first job at a radio station. However, strange things are happening. Richard, her friend who got her the job has vanished and someone is...
Release Date: 16/05/2019
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS
Components: 2D Side-On and Text
Alt-Frequencies is an adventure game played by listening to a series of radio shows. It's a story about people stuck in a time loop without realising it and what you can do to save them.
Release Date: 18/06/2015, updated in 2020
Football Chairman Pro is a simulation strategy game about running a football (soccer) club. The game has over two million downloads for its accurate and complex simulation of running a football club. This combines with a simple and clear interface to...
Release Date: 05/09/2021
Home Quest is a strategy game where you incrementally build a town, recruit an army and manage your economy. Like other idle games, it's a familiar set-up where you tap buttons to assign resources and then wait for the results. However, the unusual...
Release Date: 03/10/2022, updated in 2023
Out Now: Android, Mac and PC
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Components: Day and Night and Text
Upheaval is a narrative game where you have 30 days in a village before a wizard arrives. In those days, you can stir up chaos, lay low, go adventuring or do countless other activities. With over 5000 possible endings, it stands out for the sheer...
Release Date: 15/09/2021
Out Now: Mac and PC
Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds
Components: 2D Overhead and Pixels
Rescue: Mayday is a helicopter adventure where you are putting out fires and rescuing civilians. You play the game in a team of two, each on your own device. The Pilot player flies the helicopter but has no visibility and must use information from the...
Release Date: 09/10/2017
Out Now: Android, Web and iOS
Universal Paperclips is an adventure game about making paperclips. It sounds simple, but behind the incremental process of clicking a button to create these paperclips is a story about how the desire to make paperclips (or anything) if fully realised...
Release Date: 26/10/2020
Components: 2D Side-On and Open World
Pitch Black: A Detective's Demise is an adventure game set in a technological noir-detective world. You play using sound alone which offers voice acting and environmental sound effects to enable you to navigate.
Release Date: 15/09/2020
Rescue: Under Pressure is an adventure exploration game. Your task is to explore the sea and find treasure in the dark. But to do this you need the help of another player on the sonar to guide you. It's a game designed to work for players with mixed...
Release Date: 09/01/2020
Eldrum: Untold (previously called Untold RPG) is an adventure game you play by reading text and choosing directions. It starts with you waking up on a beach and encounter a nomad who wants revenge on their enemies. Atmospheric sound and music extend the...
Release Date: 19/08/2021
Out Now: PC and Xbox One
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Hand-Made and Open World
The Vale: Shadow of the Crown is an audio-based role-play adventure where you play Alex, a blind princess. After your brother takes his place as king, you are made warden of a small castle on the outskirts of the kingdom. Without sight from birth and...
Release Date: 07/04/2016
A Blind Legend is an adventure game that is played without graphics using headphones. You play Edward Blake, a blind knight who is guided by his daughter Louise. You use the audio-based interactions to find your way, avoid traps and confront dangerous...
Release Date: 14/12/2018
Out Now: PC
Components: 3D First-Person
Ear Hockey is a bat and ball competitive game played by listening to the in-game audio alone; no screen is required. It uses spatial audio cues to signal to the player where they are in the play space and where the main game object, the ball, is...
Release Date: 10/12/2020
Out Now: iOS
Components: 2D Overhead and Grid
Swordy Quest is a role-play game where you craft, gather and hunt your way through a fantasy world that gradually unlocks over time. What's unusual is the simple interface that creates an accessible way for anyone to experience the surprisingly deep...
Release Date: 19/12/2014
Choice of Robots is a text adventure game where you make choices to affect the story. Unlike other choose-your-own-adventure games here you are designing robots. How you put them together and treat them will change the world. Will you show them the true...
Release Date: 23/08/2021
Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels
Heartbeat: Regret is a horror rhythm-typing game. It's a tough game where you are hunted in a mansion by a dark monster. Unusually, you need to press buttons in time with the audible heart beat to move around and then type directions to take specific...
Release Date: 10/08/2012, updated in 2016
Ordet is a word puzzle game where you make as many words as possible with seven letters. If you can find a seven-letter word you advance to the next level. The novelty here is over 1000 hand crafted levels.
Release Date: 04/10/2022
Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made
1428: Shadows over Silesia is a historical adventure where you explore 15th-century Europe through the eyes of two characters intertwined at the outbreak of war. You fight opponents, sneak around enemy sites, and solve puzzles to progress through the...
Release Date: 29/10/2019
Out Now: Android
Blind Spot is a hidden target game where you have to identify the location of the targets without any audio or visual clues. As you run your two fingers over the screen you are provided vibration feedback that increases as you home in on the two targets...
Release Date: 07/07/2020
Components: 3D Third-Person
Space Wave Race is a racing game. You compete in an intergalactic racing championship where you will challenge the best pilots in the galaxy. It's designed to be able to be played with just the audio feedback, and offers a challenge for both sighted and...
Release Date: 01/09/2019
Audio Wizards is an adventure where you battle enemies with elemental spells. It's unusual for offering an adventure experience for blind and visually impaired players. You play as an apprentice who travels with a seasoned wizard called Saundaman...