Papa Sangre II is all done by sound. It pans the sound around in your head and you have to build a picture in your mind of where you need to go. You can turn around in the game by either sliding your finger left or right on the screen of your iPhone or if you turn ‘gyro’ mode on you can turn around on the spot to point yourself in the right direction.
The idea of the game is that you are dead, as you are told at the beginning of the game, but you are offered a way home by collecting some memories from other dead people. Memories are represented in the game by music and you have to pinpoint this music and walk to it. Every time you find a memory you are told what it is and it comes into play later on in the game. What really makes this game awesome is that it is voiced by the familiar sound of Mr Sean Bean, a legend in his own right. He guides you through what you need to do on the tutorial levels and the keeps an eye out for you in later levels. Once you have learnt the basics of the game such as how to walk and clap. These are done by pressing the tabs with shoe prints on them at the bottom of the screen in a walking motion to walk, or pressing the tabs at the top of the screen with hands on them to clap. You are ready to enter Papa Sangre’s memory museum. However Mr Bean cannot go in there so he gives you a hat which when you wear you can hear him talking to you. You will find obstacles that you have to avoid and creatures like mind lice that will guard memories, if a mind louse catches you it will steal your soul and then you can never go home again (or you can just restart the level and try again). Every time you die you lose one of your own memories.
Papa Sangre II was made by a company called Somethin’ Else. This company started out by making games with the intention that blind people could play them. Now this is something very close to my heart as my Mum is blind and when I cottoned on to this I was instantly excited. You see my Mum has never played a video game in her life, she has barely ever used a mobile phone either, especially a smart phone. So I did an experiment. I wanted to see whether the game actually worked the way it was meant to.
When I initially told her that I wanted her to test out a game for me she sounded a little bemused, she asked me how on earth would she be able to play a game on an iPhone? I explained to her that you do not need to be able to see to play this game and she accepted the challenge. I should really point out that you really need headphones to play this game to get its full effect. So I explained the basics of the game, over a cheeky cup of tea of course, and then I plugged her in and away she went. I set it to giro mode and stood her in the middle of the room. Her face lit up as she turned around and around listening to the sounds of the game. When she heard who was talking to her she giggled and commented on the fact that it was Sean Bean. She knew exactly which way to turn to walk to the music of the memories. The only trouble we came across was that she couldn’t work out how to walk or clap her hands, but that’s not down to her sight it’s a completely different issue altogether, we got around this by her telling me when to walk and when to stop. But when she keeps turning around and not warning me you end up in a tangled mess, but that’s by the by…this was my mum playing a video game, something I have never seen, so who cares. My experiment worked! My mum can play Papa Sangre II and she loves it. Every time I go round to see her now she wants to play just that little bit more, she has the bug.
I got the chance to experience playing Papa Sangre II in the pitch black in the Courtroom of The Galleries of Justice in Nottingham. Which may I add is spooky as hell…Who in their right mind wants to play a horror game that is purely sound based in Nottingham’s most haunted building…in the dark?! But alas I put my big girl pants on and went for it. The game is so atmospheric, the sounds are brilliant and you really can imagine the room you’re in. There is one level where you have to avoid walking into streams of preserving fluid, you can hear the streams bubbling away, you have Sean Bean talking to you and you have the sound of music which is representing the memory. You have to tackle all of this in your mind to find the memory, walk towards the music so it gets louder, but avoid falling in the stream. I was blown away by how awesome these sounds were. It is an insanely clever concept. During a little Q&A with the developers, they were asked if there were any maps of the rooms, and yes there are rough sketches of them so that they could design the sound around them however they will never be seen as they said that the best graphics in the world are in your minds, so why would it need a visual representation, when you think about it they are 100% right.
Overall I am amazed by this game. The detail and effort that has gone into making something so accessible is astounding and I am so so thankful that this has opened my Mother’s eyes to video games, something which I never thought I would see. If you have an iOS device you need to play this game!