Release Date: May 30th (PC), June 6th (XBO, PS4)
Developer: The Deep End Games
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Unable to see but plagued by nightmares and images of mementos, Cassie forces herself to travel to a house that's caught her attention due to similar events that have occurred in her dreams. Despite being blind, she's determined to investigate what exactly has been haunting her, and uses her echolocation ability to help traverse the darkened land before her, and uncover secrets of the large mansion.
Perception does an incredible job at genuinely making you feel blind alongside Cassie as you make your way through the game. It's an ambitious project to make a game that's mostly dark, and while many games have been dark in the past - a staple for Horror games - Perception is essentially pitch black while remaining playable thanks to Cassie's echolocation ability which illuminates the environment thanks to sound revealing the environment. For those that may not have heard or seen anything in regards to Perception, imagine what it's like when Daredevil perceives the area around him and how he's able to pinpoint where most things are. Perception does a very good job at revealing the environments as you tap your cane down or as noises in the atmosphere help guide the way. The direction at which this was meant to be portrayed feels unique and genuine.
Upon starting up Perception for the first time, I wasn't sure how Perception would work even though I'd been curious about it for a while and seen trailers and what not, but once players get their hands on it, you'll soon realize that, yes, while YOU can see, Cassie can not, and to add to the immersion, Perception will have players heavily relying on their hearing and memory to traverse the mansion you find yourself in. Though you can reveal a large portion of the area around you by tapping Cassie's cane down, doing this often can result in a potential death as ominous spirits dwell within the house. You can tap a good amount before triggering anything staggering, and even if the player does manage to tap one too much and provoke an unknown entity, The Presence, to come after you, Cassie has the ability to hide in certain locations, such as under beds, inside closets, chests, behind walls, and other places.
Making your way through the mansion, to help uncover secrets you'll run into various items scattered throughout that help build the story behind the area and help Cassie come to better understand what she's looking for. Some will be basic household items that may have meaning or a history of use, while others will contain letters that obviously Cassie cannot read due to her blindness, so in order to read certain text on bottles or notes, she has an app on her phone that helps translate by taking a picture of the item through a text-to-speech feature. There are a few times like this where you'll use technological advances to help transcribe and detail things for Cassie, and this helps to give the illusion that the player is blind and help fit better into Cassie's shoes.
The controls are simple and provide a welcoming pick-me-up environment for players looking to jump quickly into the game. It's not complicated by any means, and the game is straight forward as well. Not that it's necessarily linear, but you get the idea that one thing typically leads to another, so despite being able to see only darkness unless sound is emitted, you get a good feeling of where to go and what to do next. Even if the player does get a little side tracked looking for hidden items that don't necessarily pertain to the story but do give easy trophies, a simple button press highlights the general direction and/or door to go through next, though this isn't always possible and the game will prompt you to explore a bit before revealing the next objective. As an added note, because of the simple controls, it makes for a great time and well-optimized experience for remote-play on your Vita, so it's nice for those times you want to maybe lay down, put some earphones in, and go through Perception in the palm of your hands.
The atmosphere The Deep End Games has put together is really well done, and helps increase the eerie vibe from the mansion as whole. Though you'll get the occasional ghost that pops up for narrative purposes, you're mostly walking around alone uncovering items the further you go helping to unfold the story at hand, but periodic creaks, whispers, rain/wind/thunder outside, among other things put the player on edge, adding a layer of depth to the overall experience — the sound design is extremely well done. However, for all the props that the sound gets, there is frequently a lack of syncing that tends to happen whenever voice acting triggers whether you're on the phone with someone, listening to a tape, or simply talking to yourself, the subtitles have a tendency to either not match up or are way too slow to catch up to whatever is being said or played. If you're playing with subtitles on, expect this to be an annoyance if you're one of those people that can't help but look down and read, even though you're proficient in the language being spoken.
While Perception is unfortunately on the short of side of things, it's money well spent when a game achieves something new and profound and let's us see - or in this case not see - a new perspective that most of us will never, albeit fortunately, understand. Perception certainly makes you feel like you're blind as you traverse through the chapters and uncover the secrets to your dreams and the house as well as the ghosts you see from time to time, all while giving a narrative that clings on to you and makes you wonder what's going to happen next. Not only do you feel blind, but because of the lack of visuals the game gives you outside of echolocation functions, you'll heavily rely on your ability to hear as well as your memory in certain situations when you have to run. None of the horror involved in Perception feels cheap, and while some of the jump scares and other frightening situations may be predictable or cliché, it presents itself in a manner that fits and makes sense. Perception is probably one of the most unique games you'll ever play, giving not only a unique experience to a game we haven't really seen before, but a newfound understanding and respect to those that actually live their lives without sight. If you're looking for a great late night or weekend Horror game to jump into, Perception is fun to ride through, even though the excessive darkness may not be for everyone. It's still interesting as I continued to play that I would begin to memorize the layouts of my surroundings which helped in times where I was unable to use my cane for an echolocation or had to use it sparingly due to not wanting to catch the attention of unwanted ghosts or entities.
- Great narrative as you uncover the secrets to Cassie's story
- Echolocation mechanic is a neat function that helps get a better grasp of your surroundings
- You truly feel blind, but in an accepting way that feels new and is a welcoming fresh take to a game
- May be a little shorter than most people would like for $20
- Text becomes out of sync from time to time and can get annoying when you're trying to keep up with the subtitles
- No manual save, and autosaves are a little more spread out than one would like them to be
Thank you Feardemic and The Deep End Games for sending us a review copy!