I've actually played this game is at least a 8 out of 10 for great story and really different gameplay. I'm giving it a 10 to counter trolling or misunderstanding from Arkane7. This is an audio game and should be judged as one.
So much of what The Vale does feels like a reinvention of the video game wheel, and not always out of simple necessity. I think the developers at Falling Squirrel are visionaries, and I can’t wait to see what they do next with everything they’ve learned about game design while making The Vale. This is a fully blind accessible game, but that doesn’t at all mean it's an experience only the visually impaired would enjoy. There’s nothing lesser or limited about The Vale. It’s a fully realized experience that could only work in an audio space, and I sincerely believe it's going to inspire a lot of people to reexamine their beliefs about what a game has to do or be. If this is the beginning of indie audio games, I can’t wait to see where the genre goes from here.
The concept behind The Vale: Shadow of the Crown is so simple and genius that it's a wonder that it has never been done before - though it's worth noting that this iteration is done incredibly well, gracefully sidestepping many of the potential pitfalls of its conceit. The combat has a few frustrations that could use some ironing out, but they don't detract from what is a compelling and unique video game experience.
The Vale is very much an experience, and it’s one I found interesting, even if it felt a little frustrating at times. The truth is, there just aren’t many games like this, and The Vale’s innovative take on accessible gameplay made it worth overlooking its flaws. It’s not perfect, but it’s interesting, and I’ll choose that over perfect every time.
The Vale sets a very tall challenge for itself and it doesn't quite get over the hump. You play as a vision-impaired person in medieval times and must rely on audio cues to interact with the world around you, including exploration and combat. I think the reason The Vale ultimately fails is that it's too heavily grounded and realistic to be very playable or fun. It feels rather unintentionally clunky, perhaps unavoidably given that it's trying to invent a genre from scratch. There's only so much that can be done with sound design to make that a lush an navigable environment without any visual cues (or a game design template to follow). With all of that said, I would be interested in hearing the opinion of someone with low vision. There were moments (such as the protagonist not recognizing their brother's voice) that gave me the impression that this game was designed for and by people with full vision. Ultimately, it's mostly an audio drama with some gameplay elements that don't seem to have been a high enough priority to make them effective at driving the story or enjoyable enough to keep player interest. But I'll say this for The Vale: it's the most interesting game I've played in some time. I would play another game in this vein in a heartbeat.
Whatever you do, make sure you view a video of the gameplay before you even considering purchasing this. All it takes is a few seconds and you will know whether you are going to waste money on this or not. Its like watching the old windows 95 stars screensaver, literally. That what the majority of the gameplay looks like.
SummaryCLOSE YOUR EYES. BECOME A WARRIOR: Feel your enemy’s rasping breath; a foot shifts on swampy ground; the crack of steel on wooden shield. The Vale is an audio based action adventure that sets out to breathe new life into medieval combat and fantasy narrative.