As the video title says, this is one of the greatest achievements in video games. No, it is not collecting every little piece of a broken sword in a fantasy game, or collecting and solving puzzle cards in an adventure game. No, sir it is completing an entire adventure game without ever looking at the visuals. Terry Garrett is a 23 year old mechanical engineering student who completed Abe’s Exoddus while being completely blind. All he needed to complete this were the game’s sound effects, some tips from his brother and a trial-and-error method of solving puzzles that he developed on his own.
Garrett has completed the beautiful platformer/puzzle game multiple times. Considering that this was one of tougher games of the past it is quite heartening to know that all of this was accomplished with just audio cues:-
When I start playing I track sound landmarks (foot steps, objects, sound of running or pushing against walls). After this, I start exploring to see what does what. Always looking for land mark sounds to get my orientation down (sound of water, sound of footsteps changing from grass to dirt).
Finally, I have a great sense of the minds eye. Once I know what is in an area and how they are laid out, I can make a real time picture of what is going on in front of me just through sound. even in 3D. If this is hard to picture I know, I can’t explain it better than that.
The game has several of its own unique audio quips for different functions, and Garrett’s practiced hearing coupled with the game’s excellent auto-save feature also helped:-
When I start each screen, it was to listen to see if I could hear a chat orb, a Slig, a mine, or a buddy to save, which always make noise. There are even sounds to tell you that there is a Slig in the next screen over, so not to just run in like an idiot.
When I need to find a lever or door to go in, or ledge to pull up on, I go step by step, pushing either control or ‘up’ in each spot until I find it. Then I remember the number of steps to find that ledge again. Sometimes, this is in the same room as Sligs or other things that kill me, which makes the save state so useful.
The entire interview and other niceties about the blind gamer who completed Abe’s Exoddus is quite a worthwhile read on the Oddworld website.