Our Very Own @JHardin1112 Gives Us Another One Of His Great Reviews For All Of Us To Enjoy!
I have read many headlines and seen many reviews of Perception now, and so many of them seem to label the game as Horror - but I respectfully disagree. In my handful of hours playing as a blind woman determined to exercise her demons and those of a troubled house and it’s past inhabitants, I never once felt fear or associated the experience with horror. Yes, I got creeped out slightly in some situations, and yes, I found myself in the fight or flight response situation (and heads-up, you can’t fight.) But for me, Perception isn’t a game about creating jump scares, and seeking to freak you out. I really don’t think Perception is a game at all - it’s a psychological experience that gives you an opportunity. An opportunity to experience in some small fashion what it is like to be blind, to be nearly powerless as you navigate the world using echolocation. And what an experience it is!
So now that I’ve babbled on incoherently, let’s get on with the show! Players takes on the role of Cassie, a young, blind girl who is being tormented by nightmares of a mansion at Echo Bluff in Boston. At the end of her rope, Cassie decides to travel to Boston in an effort to solve the mystery of her own sordid past. Along the way, she’ll wind up exorcising not only her own demons, but those of the past inhabitants of the Echo Bluff estate.
Creating a video game with a blind protagonist sounds as if it would be quite a challenge to pull off, but I can assure you that the folks at Deep End Games pulled it off quite nicely. If you have ever seen The Shining, think Overlook Hotel. It’s not as big, but damn, it is just as creepy and atmospheric. In order to “see” anything, you’ll have to use echolocation (the use of sound waves and echoes to determine where objects are in space) throughout the experience. You can see from screenshots and the trailer I’ve included, but basically every sound creates a brief visual of your immediate surroundings. This includes your own footsteps. You’re biggest aid in navigating the estate is your walking cane which you can tap to produce a visual of your surroundings. Sure, there are other sounds that can help paint the room for you, such as a leaky faucet, radio playing music, tv, and other environmental sounds, but your best tool is by far your cane.
As you make your way around the mansion, you’ll come into key rooms, or across key objects that upon interacting with them will reveal more of the story and each chapter will focus on one family, or one person who lived in the house at the time. Each chapter will bring you to different points in time and the house will change its structure and appearance to match that time. It’s all in line with the story in that chapter and works out so well. I really enjoyed this aspect of the storytelling. As you go through each chapter you will get to experience the joys and the sorrows (mostly the sorrows) of the current inhabitants, and it is downright creepy. I don’t want to spoil any of these moments for you, but trust me when I say you should give it a chance and experience it yourself.
Now what would a psychological experience be without a little conflict? Enter the Presence. A grim reaper looking entity with moths flying around it (yeah moths, I don’t get it but damn, it’s creepy!) That’s right, this place is frickin haunted! It is attracted to noise so you have to be careful to keep the noise level down. Oh but wait, you’re a blind woman, tapping around a big empty house with your walking cane, I wonder if that will produce much noise???
Alright, sarcasm aside, you have to be careful not to use your cane too much in a short span of time, because if you create too much noise too fast, you’ll attract the Presence and you can’t fight it, all you can do is run and hide. Of course, you’ve got to find somewhere to hide first! There are a few key places that you can hide from the Presence and they will be highlighted in green, but they are far enough apart that you’ll need to look for them and sometimes you just won’t make it. At least, that was my experience. This Presence won’t stay around for long, usually no more than 30 seconds and then you’re free to explore again. However, if you can’t hide in enough time, it will devour you and the level restarts at your last checkpoint.
So this pretty much sums up what you’ll experience in your time with Perception. I loved everything about my time playing Cassie, except I wanted more time to explore the house, more conflicts to resolve. Perception can be completed in approximately 6 hours, so it’s a bit short. That would be my only complaint. Otherwise, I highly recommend you give Perception a shot and support the fine folks (Bill and Amanda Gardner) over at The Deep End Games. You could have yourself a nerve-wracking, but enjoyable Saturday afternoon if you do
FINAL SCORE: 9/10