The Most Ironically Named Game I’ve Played To Date
I’m not really sure what’s going on in video games these days. I certainly commend and applaud representation in media. In fact, video games are one of the places where we really need this the most. However, not everything works all of the time. Mechanics need to be seamless in order for a game to be up to par, yet for some reason blindness is becoming a more commonly used gameplay trope with minimal payouts for players. Perception seems to take this to a whole new, headache inducing level that makes the game almost impossible to play.
Perception is touted as having been created by veteran game developers. Said developers have apparently worked on titles such as BioShock, BioShock Infinite, and Dead Space. For anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past ten years, you’ll know that these are no mere titles to snub your nose at. All of these games are critically acclaimed and have won (and deserved) awards. So naturally, anyone coming into this game informed of its pedigree ought to be pretty excited at what awaits them.
For most people, that excitement will be quashed pretty early on.
Hi, Nice to See You…Oh.
Players take on the role of Cassie Thornton, a blind heroine who apparently has powers akin to that of Marvel’s Daredevil. Using her super senses of echolocation, she navigates an abandoned house in search of items that have been showing up in her dreams. Cassie also has a sixth sense ability which comes in as a sometimes handy but usually annoying plot device that acts as a location mechanic/selective x-ray vision.
Where did Cassie get these powers? Who knows, but more to the point is why she came to this house to find items from her dreams? More importantly, is Cassie the only one in the house?
Perception’s story is a slow drip with minimal details in terms of reveals. Every mystery climax brings Cassie a little closer to solving the overwhelming mystery surrounding this abandoned house and her connection to it.
The overarching plot is told in four chapters. Each chapter consists of a different story, different puzzles to solve, and different characters all with their own issues. With each chapter, Cassie unlocks a new generation of ghosts that haunt the estate of Echo Bluff as well as different versions of the house itself. With new chapters and stories comes a new era in the house’s history from a modern mother and her newborn child to a World War II era housewife. Things get even crazier and more disjointed the further you progress into the storyline which creates some narrative disconnect as the player tries to piece things together.
Throughout it all is the ever lingering threat of the creature known only as The Presence. If he catches you it’s game over, so make sure you’re a polite house guest!
Let’s Take the Scenic Route
Players navigate using a series of cane taps to trigger echolocation. This is coupled with stumbling around in the dark in a house that shifts and changes its layout every chance it gets. This doesn’t sound too bad, but after an hour or two the lack of clarity in direction gets taxing. It’s also literally nauseating as well as headache inducing. Players must take care, however, with the amount of noise that they make both in terms of cane tapping and interacting with the environment. Noise attracts enemies, least of which not being the murderous Presence itself. This can be remedied if noise is created in a place where Cassie can hide. If not, it’s best to try and get out of sight and reach as quickly as possible hoping whatever is in the shadows passes Cassie by.
When worst comes to worst, Cassie can always run. How wise is it for a blind girl to run is a question that probably should have been asked, but it’s saved me a few times so perhaps one shouldn’t complain too much.
Be on the lookout (no pun intended) for items along the way that trigger memories. These will fill the player in on the narrative and fill in gaps in the stories to help solve the mystery. Some of these items are obvious, such as the flashing tape recorders. Other items are less obvious at first, but will stand out in the gloom as Cassie moves around the house. Pick these up when you can.
Get Scared Sightless?
With everything else, Perception is supposed to be a horror game. Now, if I may confess, I’m actually kind of a wimp in terms of horror games. I jump at any loud noise, anywhere. I tense up easily and sometimes my anxiety will shut down the desire to keep playing a game. However, that never really happened in Perception. Sure, I jumped a few times due to loud noises or the all too typically interposed jump scare, but nothing ever really had me rooted to the ground in terror.
I think this may play in part with the fact that because you can’t see anything, you can’t even really see what’s supposed to be scaring you. The game mechanics defeat the game’s purpose. It’s almost amusing but it’s actually just sad. Perception could have been a good game if they had tweaked the echolocation slightly. Not being able to see, or see so little that it completely inhibits progression sounds good on paper if the concept isn’t played around with prior to development. However, when you have that mechanic in an actual game it just gets frustrating very quickly.
Perception tries really hard to be a good game. Unfortunately, it missed its mark in many regards. While aspects of the game and its story are certainly interesting, it’s a hard title to get into due to the massive amount of patience required to circumnavigate a house that literally changes its layout multiple times throughout the game.
Tie that in with the fact that it’s a horror game that lacks any real sense of fear, and essentially what The Deep End Games has made is a complicated fetch quest title with loud jump scares and an almost well thought out mechanic. Frankly, given that the BioShock series and the first Dead Space games were so amazing, Perception was nothing if not disappointing. Couple that with the hefty price tag demanded of such a short game and it’s fairly perceivable that indie horror fans might want to try elsewhere.
Final Verdict: 2.5 / 5
Available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC (reviewed); Publisher: Feardemic ; Developer: The Deep End Games; Players: 1 ; Released: May 30th, 2017 ; MSRP: $22.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review copy of Perception given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.