Close your eyes, open your ears, and prepare yourself for something exceptionally unusual, very creepy, and totally new. A unique audio thriller that is quite unlike anything I have ever played before, Papa Sangre is perhaps one of the most ambitious video game experiences around.
First of all, there is no video. Aside from a very simple control scheme that looks like the Grim Reaper’s bathroom scale, there is never anything on screen. Instead, you must break out your headphones and rely on your ears to navigate your way through the sensationally eerie stereo soundscape that is Papa Sangre’s dark realm.
Because you will be so wrapped up just trying to get your head around the crazy audio only premise, the story keeps it simple: the wicked Papa Sangre has stolen someone you care for. To get them back, you must give up your sight and pursue Papa Sangre through a perilous land of nightmare. You have only your ears to guide you, as well as a mysterious, fluttering creature who whispers helpful information in your ear and also generates new bodies for you, should you meet a grisly end.
And there are lots of potentially grisly ends. It will take you a little while to master this new kind of game interaction, and even after you get the basics down, there are still tons of dangers out there waiting to tear you apart.
Because you never see anything, the developers have taken the opportunity to really ramp up the creep factor in each bone-crunching, flesh-ripping sound. As you might expect, the audio in this game is absolutely superb, and just about every sound in the game will make your flesh crawl a little, even if it’s as benign as a ringing telephone. This is not a game for kids, and even the not so easily frightened may find themselves sleeping with the light on after playing this game.
Because of its unique premise, I couldn’t help but be seriously impressed by the technical feats of the game, and it deserves a lot of praise and attention for that alone, but the game experience isn’t quite perfect. The action, while certainly engaging, begins to feel simplistic and repetitive relatively early. Like playing Tetris with your feet, the novelty of the unique control scheme presents its own mental challenges, but the task itself doesn’t feel fresh. Additionally, the relatively high price tag of $6.99 is going to justifiably put a lot of people off, and the game can only be played on newer devices (3GS minimum) running iOS 4.
Overall, Papa Sangre may not completely knock your socks off with the fun factor, but it’s still well worth checking out for the wholly innovative and inspired “ear-opening” experience.
Here is a video demo of the Papa Sangre app on the iPhone
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