Heartbeat: Regret is a horror adventure game that caters to the visually impaired by being fully playable just based on what you hear.

The story of the game is based around the main character undergoing heart surgery, and during said surgery having a very vivid dream, which is where the player comes in. The sound of a beating heart can be heard as soon as you start a new game, and plays a very vital role, which is pretty true of life. One of the many innovative gameplay ideas this game uses is that the character can only move to the beat of the heartbeat. So rhythm is something your definitely going to need if you plan to try this game. Another gameplay mechanic utilized is that in order to do any task in the game, such as opening a door, you have to type it.

In order to cater towards the visually impaired, there is a setting in the game that announces what objective you are standing in front of and are required to type in order to progress. I personally found it messed with my rhythm, such as when I was trying to bypass a staircase that I was not quite ready to ascend, but it’s a very helpful tool for those that can’t read the text they are meant to type.

Let’s get into the meat of the game. The story, which is very well done compared to some of the games I’ve played on here, revolves around the character who is undergoing heart surgery, as I mentioned above. The beating heart you hear is assumed to be your own, and if you attempt to step out of beat, or mess up while typing a prompt, the heartbeat increases. This, along with other clues, is mentioned by the mysterious stranger at one of the many telephones you can pick up. You can also hold the up arrow key in order to stow your flashlight, but this also increases your heart rate. If it get’s to high, your heart flatlines and your character dies, forcing you start at the last checkpoint you made it to. Luckily, the checkpoints are fairly generous.

Yes, you even have to type the prompts in order to save.

In order to lower your heart rate, you have to find peaceful sounds throughout the spooky castle, such as rain against the window, or the crackling fire of torches on the wall. If you stop to listen, which is only something you can do while not being pursued, your heart rate will lower giving you the equivalent of a full health bar. Kind of. If the monster is in pursuit though, your heart rate increases, which is a bit of a double edged sword. It gives you the opportunity to escape quickly, but also raises your own heart rate making it more likely that you will make a mistake in your escape attempt.

When it comes to the monster, there are a few techniques to avoiding it. The trick of holding up and hiding is very helpful, but cannot be over utilized, due to the increasing heart rate. So sometimes you have to be creative to get around it. This is where the auditory techniques really shine. The monster can be tracked based on the sound of its footsteps and breathing. Whether its on the other side of a door, or even if its on a different floor. If you pause to actually listen, you can hear the monster walking from left to right and vice versa, and it actually translates to your left and right earphone, which I strongly recommend using if you decide to give this game a try. It’s a small, but very impressive tool this game uses to help those that can’t see what they’re doing.

By far my favorite use of sound design in this game though, is that the character’s dog is also present in this dream, and when you are approaching something helpful, you can hear the dog making sounds, letting you know that you are on the right track. A simple, but very heartwarming addition to this game that further endeared it to me.

There are a lot of elements that honestly make this a great game. And I’m not even talking about compared to other games mentioned on this site. It was fun, challenging, and a little bit spooky. As of this writing, I have actually not finished it unfortunately because it is quite difficult. Sometimes you do have to slow down and use your ears, and that’s not a technique I’m accustomed to in playing video games. If you have $2 burning a hole in your Steam Wallet, then I would definitely check this game out. If nothing else for the experience of playing a game designed with the visually impaired in mind. 5/5