Perception, from The Deep End Games, is a first-person horror game where you play as Cassie, a sassy blind girl, as she tries to uncover the mysteries behind this haunted house. The core gameplay mechanic involves tapping Cassie’s cane against the ground or other objects which causes her to use echolocation to make out her surroundings. This mechanic is well done and felt very authentic as I found myself wanting to tap the cane a lot just to get my bearings.
This mechanic is also used quite effectively to deliver scares, as there is something inherently frightening about being alone in the pitch dark unable to see what is around you. Frequently I found myself jumping at any random sounds looking around to see if I can find the soundwaves and thus the location of the noise. Add to that the fact that if you make too much noise with the cane the games central enemy, called The Presence, will begin to hunt you down.
While the constant threat of the Presence made me uneasy, once I found that it was fairly easy to avoid it became much less frightening. By the end of the game I found The Presence to be more frightening in concept, than as an actual threat. I would be lying however if I said hearing moths nearly every cane tap didn’t freak me out inside though, regardless of the fact the threat is not very great.
Whenever I tapped her cane to try and gain a better understanding of where I was and I would hear the creepy moth sounds of The Presence it made me feel highly uneasy. This constant tension of knowing and cannot tap my cane too often made normally mundane objects frightening as I would run into them not knowing they were there. For instance, there was one moment where I backed into some wine bottles shattering them and I very nearly jumped out of my seat. The mix of excellent sound design, and being completely in the dark made the game feel tense, even if there was no apparent danger.
Unfortunately, I found the game difficult to play for long periods at a time, as the look of the echolocation hurt my eyes and tended to give me a headache. Granted this issue could just be limited to me, but it is something to look out for if you intend to play the game.
The majority of the story is told by finding important items around the house, called touchstones, and then some story from the houses past inhabitants are told. I found myself more interested in these past stories than I was in Cassie’s purpose for being there. Each time Cassie was reliving a story the house would change, and I enjoyed exploring the house each time to learn what went on with the people that lived there.
As exploration is the driving force of the game, it would often be difficult to find where to go or what to find. Using Cassie’s sixth sense ability helped, but it didn’t always draw a very clear path to my destination. There was one time when I spent around 20 to 30 minutes trying to find where to go, which turned out to be a small staircase that was difficult to discern. This issue could also be my fault as I tend to be unobservant at times.
Despite getting lost, for longer than I should have admittedly, I found the game to be kind of short. While it is good Perception did not overstay its welcome as some horror games do, I was left feeling like I wanted to see more of what the game could do. I sincerely hope to see more done with this concept as I loved the premise of being completely blind in a horror game.
Perception does a good job of delivering the scares, while also delivering a unique concept and sticking to that concept throughout the whole game. Wandering the halls of the house in pitch darkness was a terrifying, albeit short, experience. The story being inspired by true events is a nice touch, and the level of detail in the sound and the act of using echolocation made me want to see more games that experiment with this idea. Although the threat of The Presence waned as the game went on, Perception still delivered a lot of scares and I look forward to seeing what The Deep End Games comes up with next. 8.5/10
*This review was based off the Xbox One version of the game. It is also available on PS4 and PC*
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