When I first booted up Perception, I didn’t really know what to expect but what followed came as bit of a surprise and it intrigued me immediately. The game is a first person supernatural suspense with a hint of survival horror and it takes place in an abandoned house where you play a character called Cassie who is investigating the house due to her being haunted by it in her nightmares but the intriguing thing about all of this is that Cassie is completely blind. It is certainly an interesting take on this kind of game and something that I have to give the developer credit for because they have certainly taken a risk in trying something fresh and new for this genre.
Your view is in complete darkness and It all works with something called Echolocation that uses sound waves to highlight objects around you and while your footsteps trigger these sound waves in close proximity it’s tapping your cane on the walls and floors that highlights the biggest area for you to see. This is of course a temporary highlight as it is just the sound waves rippling around to reveal your surroundings and to counter you spamming the tapping of your cane is something called The Presence, a very unnerving and haunting supernatural that will come after you if you make too much noise and will instantly kill you if you are found.
The gameplay side of Perception is very basic as there are very few controls that are used, but what is there is on point with the overall experience and with a game that relies on a tense atmosphere and exploration, there isn’t any need for over complicated controls and Perception does a good job of balancing this perfectly. Walking around feels smooth and the tapping of the cane is effective and responsive, but it’s the lack of any melee or weapon moves that really adds to the tension as there is no way in which you can defend yourself against possible threats in the house other than hiding and it is a welcome change to the norm with a survival game of this style.
One of the big selling points of Perception though is its atmosphere with the unnerving creaking of walls, deep growls of the house, echoes of doors slamming and jump moments that are all effective but only for a very limited time. It’s a little disappointing that the creepy, tense and unsettling side of the game reaches its peak early on and offers very little else in bigger better surprises later on, but once you experience the novelty of it all in the first chapter, you’ve pretty much experienced the height of its suspense which is a real shame considering the potential that is on offer here.
The visual style of Perception fits in perfectly with its setting with the majority of the game being focussed around sound and how it enables you to see and get a feel for your surroundings. The echolocation works really well and compares to the effect that is used in Daredevil with an x-ray styled ripple giving you a brief look at where you are, what is around you and where you should go next. This gives the game a simplistic look, with very little detail to the visuals and it isn’t going to be everyone’s taste but it fits in well with what is trying to be achieved here by giving the player an authentic experience and faithfully recreating the struggles that someone with a sever visual impairment may go through.
It utilises different tech to assist with all of this like the cane which I mentioned earlier and other things like a Text To Speech app used on the mobile phone to read notes scattered around the house. There were a couple issues with the surroundings however, in the form of glitch moments where I got stuck in a wall on one occasion and another time where I somehow fell through a bit of the floor and had to reload my save as I couldn’t get out which is a little disappointing to see considering the simplicity of not only the gameplay but the visual style too.
As you would expect with a game like this, there is a story attached to it and while it initially intrigues, it slowly starts to become a bit of a muddled mess and doesn’t really have any solid direction. It tries to over complicate things? almost trying to be too clever in its story telling when all it needs is a storyline that compliments the game style rather than one that tries to be over ambitious. It has nice little touches attached to it like the ghostly visions that narrate past events and the historical moments from different eras that give a bit of history to the horrific events that took place in the house but it tries to be something it isn’t and it all ends up being a bit clustered.
All of this wouldn’t be so bad if the voice acting of the characters wasn’t so wooden, with only Cassie having any kind of appealing dialogue and the other characters sounding like they’re reading from a script rather than actually acting out the role which is a huge disappointment. If a story is going for an ambitious approach then you need the dialogue to be on point and it just doesn’t hit the note it’s aiming for which is disappointing. With the campaign lasting a little over 7 hours I found there to be little incentive to go back and do it all again but it depends on how much you want to find objects you may have missed on your first playthrough. I like the fact that the developer have tried something new with Perception but unfortunately it falls short of the expectations that the developers were aiming for with only a handful of things that actually seemed to work with the overall experience.