This is the one hundred eighth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
Another random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality has entered the building, speaking surreptitiously into a hidden earpiece. It’s Blind Men, by Man-Eater Games, and its tagline in the bundle reads:
A boys’ love visual novel about a supervillain and the spies that try to stop hi…
That’s right: this supervillain’s nefarious schemes bring all the boys to the yard.
As the tagline says, Blind Men is a visual novel. We’ve seen a few of those in this series so far, including Conversations With My Anxiety, Detective Hank and the Golden Sneeze, and more recently the excellent EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER. Blind Men stars Keegan, a young man intent on becoming a supervillian just like his uncle. The world he inhabits is a parody of spy fiction like James Bond, where international organizations of criminal masterminds exist openly, the cold war is in full swing, and suspiciously advanced technology is commonplace. Much of the story takes place in Berlin, where the Berlin Wall still exists, and Russian and American spies butt heads. In fact, it’s strongly implied that Keegan is himself German, which surprised me, since the two language options in the game are Spanish and English.
As is standard for visual novels, Blind Men is mostly about clicking through dialogue, accompanied by nicely drawn character and background art. A lot of it is actually internal monologue from Keegan, as he explains his plans to the player. I found this was often too wordy, and the occasional awkward idiom made me wonder if Spanish, rather than English, might be the writer’s first language. Occasionally there are choices to make, but not as many as I expected. They mostly boil down to which of the two romanceable men the player wants to romance, and how much they want to romance them versus just getting on with their supervillain caper.
The caper part of things is where I was expecting more choice. Keegan’s first ever supervillain operation seems doomed to go off the rails, and there are many points when Keegan makes an important decision all on his own, without any input from the player. Go in expecting to pull off a perfect heist and you’ll be disappointed. But once I realized that Blind Men is more interested in Keegan’s interactions with the other characters than it is in the supervillainy, I enjoyed going along for the ride. The story isn’t too long, easily playable in a single sitting, although I did it in two. Unlike many visual novels, Blind Men lets players save at any time, not just as specific story break moments. The options in general are quite nice, letting players choose the speed at which text scrolls (I went for instant text) and whether messages auto-skip or require manual clicks (as well as precisely how the auto-skipping works).
Since the story is so short, I’m hesitant to discuss it too much. But I will briefly comment on the romance. There’s nothing too explicit, for those who might be worried about that. The tone is more cute and flirtatious, and I ended up having Keegan pursue one of the romantic partners even though I would not have been interested myself. I managed to get a good outcome for Keegan, not just romantically but also in terms of the caper, to my mild surprise. I didn’t go back to try other choices, but I’m guessing there are several different endings to uncover for those interested in tracking them down. I like the way both of the potential romantic partners are introduced first, so players have a good idea of who they might want to pursue. I went for the mysterious silent type, but there’s also a suave sweet-talker on offer for those looking for something different.
Overall I had a good time with Blind Men. The line-to-line writing can be awkward, but I liked the larger story and the supervillain versus superspy antics. If you feel like flirting with some handsome spies while pulling off a daring crime, why not give Blind Men a try? If you missed it in the bundle, it’s sold for a minimum price of $3.50.
That’s 108 down, and only 1633 to go!