Perception – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle Adventure, Horror
Developer: The Deep End Games
Publisher: Feardemic
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch (tba)
Tested on: PC

Perception – Review

Site Score
7.9
Good: Interesting graphics, nice stories
Bad: The echolocation game-aspect gets old after a while
User Score
7.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Perception is a game which received a lot of attention due to its interesting protagonist: a blind lady. How do you represent blindness on a visual medium? Luckily, the developers found a great way to do this, and the result looks beautiful. The story of this game is rich and powerful, as can be expected from Bill Gardner and others who have previously worked on the BioShock games. Gardner is the founder of the indie studio The Deep End Games where Perception was developed, and this game has been published by Feardemic.

Perception-logo

Story

The protagonist, Cassie, is drawn to a mysterious mansion in a place called Echo Bluff. She has seen the house and several important objects in the mansion in her nightmares, and she is determined to find out why the house seems to be calling to her. When exploring the mansion, Cassie finds clues about the former inhabitants of the house. These objects, letters and recordings tell a tragic story about what happened to these people, and after the story unfolds itself Cassie gets transported back in time to witness the story of another former inhabitant. The first story starts a few years back in history, but the story of the mansion and its inhabitants goes back to the 17th century. There are four stories in total, and they all end in tragedy. Eventually Cassie discovers her connection to the house by witnessing all that transpired within and around the mansion, and finally puts an end to the curse and the mysterious apparition which keeps haunting her.

While the stories are rather typical spooky stories about possessed dolls, witch hunts and twisted people, the theme seems to center around women who are somehow disadvantaged, but are in fact strong and independent, and would like to be recognized for it. It’s a pretty interesting approach for a horror story, which usually lets you feel small and powerless.

Perception screen 1

Graphics

The graphics of this game are something else. Cassie is blind, and the only way you can orient yourself, is by echo-location. This is represented by a mostly black screen, with sources of sound revealing some of the surroundings. This can be anything around Cassie, a hissing heater, wind or creaks, for example. Most of the time the environment you’ll reveal will be represented in blue, but when Cassie gets scared, the colors change to orange or even red. Clues you’ll need to progress in the story or to learn more about the story are clearly visible in the environment, and doorposts are outlined in green, making it much easier to navigate. There’s a goal visible as well, through walls and floors, which helps tremendously in navigating the mansion.

At the end of the game there are a few graphics which differ from this theme, these are some of the earliest memories of Cassie, which have been represented as colorful, cartoonish drawings.

Perception screen 2

Sounds

Since sounds are so important to the main character in this game, sounds are everywhere. Hissing pipes, clicking cassette players, whooshing winds, and of course, Cassie talking to herself. Cassie encounters many memories by interacting with objects, and those memories are all narrated. Besides objects triggering memories, Cassie will also encounter several recordings; audio-logs which are scattered around the house as you progress through the stories.

Gameplay

Perception is an adventure game, with a strong story, horror elements and a few puzzles. Cassie, the protagonist of this story, is blind, which adds an interesting gameplay element. Instead of simply walking around to explore, you’ll have to trust other senses. You can only see anything on screen which makes sounds, and all objects close to the source of the sound. Cassie’s footsteps show the floor around you and a few objects on the floor close to you. To reveal more of your environment, you have to hit your cane against a surface. If you make too much noise, an apparition will come to hunt you, and will kill you instantly if it manages to find you. Luckily, there are many hiding places around you, which have handy ‘hide here!’ popups when you get close. Luckily the game is pretty forgivable about how much noise is allowed, and the appearance of the evil spirit almost never happens, even if you use the cane rather frequently. He does appear a few times at plot-relevant points, but you can get away by running or hiding. If you do get caught, you’ll die instantly and respawn in the lobby of the mansion.

Perception screen 3

The stories of the inhabitants are being told by objects in and around the mansion. At each new story the mansion changes around, and you’ll need to re-orient yourself in the house and its surroundings; the exploring never gets stale. You’ll be led through the mansion during the story: you have a certain goal, usually a door or object you’ll want to find. Luckily, Cassie has a ‘sixth sense’ which shows you your next objective outlined in white, visible through floors and walls, where you can navigate toward. Following this sixth sense feels a bit like cheating, but it keeps you from getting lost in the house, and it’s handy to have something to work towards without walking aimlessly. On your journey towards this goal, you’ll encounter many objects, and sometimes obstacles which prevent you from reaching your goal. These are actually puzzles you need to solve, like locked doors. The puzzle parts are really simple and mostly center around finding clues and keys to progress in the story. As a blind person you’ll encounter many objects you won’t be able to identify directly. You’ll be able to use your text-to-speech app for letters, but sometimes you’ll find something you won’t be able to identify by touch or by your app, and for those objects you can send a picture to a network where someone will interpret your photo for you. The reactions of the person who interprets your pictures are fun to listen to! There are many clues to be found as you walk around in the different versions of the mansion, way more than is needed to progress to the next goal; the more you’ll find the better you’ll understand the stories and the feelings and motivations of the previous inhabitants.

Perception screen 5

Conclusion

Perception is a cool game, and it’s pretty awesome how the blindness is represented. I doubt that echolocation is as detailed as in this game, but it’s probably the best you can do in a visual medium like this, where it’s hard to simulate somebody who is literally feeling her way around. The blindness has been used in an inventive way to add an interesting gameplay element to this game. After a while you do get used to the navigation with your cane and you’ll get some feeling for the frequency needed not to attract attention, after which point it just slows you down a bit. The stories are interesting, and fun to unravel. At some points you can almost feel the frustration of the people featured in the stories! Playing through Perception is a great experience for people who like to explore personal stories in a horror setting, and who don’t mind being slowed down a bit while navigating around.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Perception - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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