Perception is a great reminder of how many pieces need to come together to make a great, or even a good, game. Superb controls aren’t enough. It needs more than beautiful graphics, a compelling story, or a dynamic main character. It needs all—or most—of these to be great. In the case of Perception, the developers took a big swing and decided to completely change the way we play by taking away our sight. It’s obviously risky, but the unique game mechanic would seem to be tailor-made for the survival horror genre.
The protagonist, a likable young lady named Cassie, is blind, which means you, the player, are blind. How am I supposed to search this haunted house if I’m blind, you ask? Well, it turns out young Cassie is quite proficient with her cane and the use of echolocation. Echolocation isn’t innate in humans like it is with bats and some whales, but it is a skill we can learn, and our young heroine is a master. In short, when you tap your cane on the floor using the R2 button, the sound echoes off of the objects surrounding you, bathing them a bluish tinted haze. It only lasts for a few seconds, but the visuals are simple yet striking all the same. Like I said, it’s a gimmick tailor-made for the horror genre and it could have really upped the terror of Perception, possibly enough to elevate it above the pack. Sadly, the “echolocation” mechanic grows tedious and isn’t nearly enough to save an otherwise basic walk and talk haunted house simulator .
The game spares us from a bunch of exposition and simply drops Cassie on the doorstep of the house. It was a bit frustrating at first, but it doesn’t take long to piece the story together of why she is following the footsteps of “that” person that walks into the danger when sane, normal people would walk away. I won’t spoil the story, but Cassie is suffering from recurring nightmares of this house and she just can’t take it anymore. Despite Cassie doing all of the dumb things people do in horror movies, she is a likable character, thanks mostly due to the fine voice acting and writing. I can’t say the same for most of the other characters, but I found Cassie endearing and a little funny.
The house isn’t huge, and you’ll find yourself going back and forth through the same rooms as doors that were locked the first time are now open. Also, the rooms change as you get deeper into the game due to a cool portion of the story that I won’t spoil here. You’ll have to venture outside several times to various places like the garage or to a scary looking tree (that for some reason seems familiar) and this break in scenery is welcome. If for nothing else, it means you don’t have to constantly tap your cane to see due the constant blue haze created by the strong winds. It’s a visual that looks pretty cool, but it makes me very grateful I have the gift of sight.
There are, of course, a handful of jump scares and more ghastly apparitions then you can shake a cane at, but the game simply isn’t very scary. In fact, the only thing that can hurt Cassie is an evil spirit called The Presence that seems to hate the sound of Cassie’s cane. That is the game in a nutshell. You need to make noise to see, but make too much noise and then you’re in trouble. The screen will turn red and you’ll need to hide in one of the various hiding places throughout the house or the creepy ghost lady will kill you dead. Another downside for some will be that the game isn’t very long. For me, that was okay. I was curious enough to keep going to see how it would end, but I was glad when it was over, which I’m sure isn’t what the team at Deep End Games was hoping for. Stick around to the end credits for a quick explanation of the true story that the game was inspired by. It’s a pretty cool coda to an otherwise mediocre game.
Perception PS4 Review
In the end, the game’s biggest fault is the missed opportunity. I commend Deep End Games for swinging for the fences, but a big swing and miss is still a miss, and it’s a shame. If you love horror games, then I think you might find the unique basis for this game worth checking out, despite the lack of terror. For everyone else? I’m afraid I just can’t unconditionally recommend Perception.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.