Just because you are blind, does not mean you cannot see. Perception is a new kind of horror game from The Deep End Games — a type of game that takes on the phrase “bump in the night”and makes it literal. In Perception you step into the shoes of Cassie Thorton. Cassie is a blind girl whose nightmares drive her to Echo’s Bluff, an estate in Gloucester, Massachusetts to find several items that keep appearing in her dreams.
You navigate through the world by tapping your cane on the group and sending waves of sound out, similar to sonar; or perhaps Daredevil if you would prefer. Giving you extremely brief glimpses of your surroundings before the darkness rushes back in. They use a fantastic array of shapes and sounds to truly explore how a blind person would observe the world if this were a real person. In my opinion, they did some great research, asked the right questions, and did a fantastic job with it.
However there is a mechanic in place that prevents you from simply spamming the cane and observing the entire world all the time. It comes in the shape of “The Presence,” a figure that comes out of the darkness and kills you if you do not hide in time. Once The Presence has been summoned by your noise, your only option is to hide in one of a few hiding spots until the invisible timer resets and it goes back to whatever shadow it came from.
The echolocation and The Presence tend to get somewhat annoying at times, as there is no gauge or specific noise level that will summon it, leaving you to either blindly stumble around, or hide for a prolonged period of time until you feel that you are safe again. It is an extremely neat system for the first hour or so, but got somewhat tiring after the fifth or sixth time in a row of hiding behind the curtain. Another really interesting feature is that the house itself will randomly re-configure, forcing you to explore rather than go off straight memory. This was a fantastic switch from the norm as I am one of those players that will remember every twist and turn and re-run something in half the time it should take me. This game prevented that for the most part.
Speaking of memory, Perception does a great job of combining four chapters each with unique horror plots. Due to being blind, Cassie must use her phone and a text to speech app to interact with pieces of paper, books, and bottles around the house. Each of these pieces of items unlocks a memory of a time past, and you learn a little more about the world around Cassie. Be it a woman who is waiting for her husband to return from World War II, or woman who just wants her pills, each is different and unique.
Perception attempts to be more than a first person locate object game. But in reality, it achieves just that. While bringing the concept of human echolocation to a game is a relatively new idea, it falls somewhere in between gimmick territory and a great game as there were times where flashes of disturbing images truly made me jump in fright. However, those were slightly overshadowed by the fact that I clicked my cane one too many times, which made me have to run and hide. Perception has a fantastic hook, with a decent narrative-driven story. It is a little on the short side, as I was able to complete it in around 4 ½ hours with moderate exploration, with the ending being slightly anticlimactic if I do say so myself.
+ Fantastic mini-stories within the memories
+ Great idea for the first half an hour or so
+ Reconfiguring mansion is a GREAT touch
– Slight gimmicky overall feel after the first half an hour or so
– The trigger for The Presence seemed completely random, which is fantastic in a horror game. However, the thing summoning it was the only way to explore the mansion
– Decent horror game, however cannot stand alongside games like Amnesia, or Gone Home
– Little to no replay value, unless you are a trophy hunter