Platform: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Deep End Games
Release date: Out now. Nintendo Switch TBC 2017.
tl;dr: Being blind is much more terrifying than I thought.
Price: $23/£18 | Across all platforms.
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Perception is a horror game like no other, as you take the role of Cassie, a young woman who has been blind since birth but has never let her ailment hold her back. She is portrayed as a strong protagonist throughout the narrative of this unique horror title. Cassie has been recently plagued with nightmares, which led her to a creepy maze-like mansion in New England, which has many dark mysteries that surround it that date back hundreds of years.
The first challenge for this game is how the developers can represent blindness for players who as a whole have never experienced this ailment. The answer to this is Cassie’s echolocate ability, which is an actual thing; using sound to create a mental layout of your surroundings. Within Perception, if Cassie taps her cane or hears the dripping of water from a leaking faucet, the echoes from those sounds will present the environment with blue echo outlines, but if you leave it too long without sound, the game will return to darkness.
This type of gameplay adds a certain amount of tension and gives a balanced rhythm to the game; tap your cane and look around, move, tap your cane and establish your current whereabouts. But, this rhythm gets interrupted pretty quickly, because tapping too much in certain areas alerts the primary antagonist of the game, “The Presence.”
The Presence is Cassie’s main obstacle, as he limits you to a number of sounds you make; say you tap your cane too many times, or run on the wooden floorboards, or if you turn on a loud television, The Presence will be alerted to your location, which forces you to run and hide from it. It’s not clear what The Presence is, but it’s not too happy about you trespassing in its home.
Luckily, Perception isn’t a challenging game, which is great due to how poor the checkpoint system is. Within the four to five hours it takes to complete the game, you rarely encounter The Presence unless you run around smacking your cane against every possible object this can be good and bad as the lack of The Presence means there is no lingering tension, but the good comes from the fact you’re not being killed too much and being sent back to a poorly placed checkpoint, I talked about this in my Outlast 2 review. Perception focuses primarily on exploration. Akin to games such as Gone Home, the goal is often to walking from place to place, picking up items that progress the narrative with occasional puzzles, although more often than not, it won’t be too vexing and be more along the lines of “find the key to open this door.”
Perception takes place over four chapters; across these four chapters, Cassie explores four different time periods from the house’s past. These individual timelines connect in interesting ways, but each of these stories could stand as unique and individual horror stories, complete with clever twists. This all works alongside the main story arc of Cassie finding the source of her nightmares.
About halfway through the game, we’re introduced to a boring side character who introduces a new mechanic, where Cassie takes a picture of an object and uploads it to an app.This character receives the picture, who will then describe it to her. It just seems pointless after Cassie is demonstrated as this independent character who doesn’t even wait for her friend before entering this spooky house because she needs to do this on her own, but needs help with deciphering these puzzle which ends up being a simple task just like the previously mentioned puzzles above.
Overall, Perception is full of great ideas both on the gameplay and narrative of the game. It’s a game that forces the player into blindness and gives them an experience of things that go bump in the night. Although, whilst Perception isn’t overly horrifying, it definitely gives off a creepy vibe with the lingering Presence and the atmosphere… plus those creepy dolls… No, I don’t want to talk about them…
- Truly unique gameplay.
- Strong female protagonist.
- Eerie, atmospheric world to explore.
- Not too scary.
- Short experience.
Family Focus: Perception
Perception is rated PEGI18/ESRB M. As a horror game, it’s not suitable for younger audiences.
This review is based on a PS4 review code of the game provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.