Perception is an adventure/horror game in which you play as a blind woman... If that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what the heck will!
Let's go through a quick checklist before we begin the review:
Large creepy vacant house? - Check Doors opening and closing by themselves? - Check Creepy Ghost children? - Check Wait, what's this, an engaging and well written story? - Check
Before I continue, I want to let you know I'm going to leave out a lot of details regarding the story. I truly think that covering gameplay will get you interested enough to give this game a shot, so I don't want to spoil anything for you.
Right off the bat, this game gets me with two things. 1: It says it's based on a true story (whether that's true or not I will let you decide) and 2: you start in Logan Airport, which is in my home state, so extra brownie points for them!
The setup of the story is that you play Cassie, a blind girl, who has been having dreams of this strange house that she has set out to find. You make your way through Logan airport, very briefly, you then find yourself on the walkway leading up to “the house” which is located in Gloucester.
So, you are probably reading this and saying to yourself, “Ok, you play as a blind girl and this guy hasn't mentioned how that is possible!” or maybe you are not thinking that and I'm just projecting.
Cassie uses her walking cane to assist in echolocation. By tapping your cane, Cassie is able to “see” her surroundings based on said echolocation. Be warned though, using your cane too much in the house can attract unwanted attention… THE HOUSE IS ALIVE!!!! Or is it?
I'm a big fan of this mechanic. Playing a horror game in which your experience is mostly a dark or a pitch black screen is incredibly tense. Knowing that every time you need to “see” your environment could also attract something terrifying is an element I don't think I have experienced in game in quite some time.
Perception does a great job in sound design as well. Your environment will often provide you with vision, whether it be a heater running, a scary record player that suddenly turns on, or even the wind will give you a cool pathway while outside of the house. You will also see how much, or how little, attention you can attract by interacting with many household objects by means of your cane. Be sure to locate rugs so you can “see” without creating too much noise. Your cane can also echolocate off of hardwood floors, steel objects (like heaters, fireplaces, doors, etc.), and even just the air itself. Each one of those creates a unique sound and vision.
At one point I was playing the game and thought, “This isn't too scary,” just to have a jump scare right around the corner. It's very subtle and would often catch me off guard, which is great! Once I came across my first object I could “hide” in, I knew I was in for more scares in the future.
The game is pretty linear, but I never felt that I was “on rails” while playing the game. You can pretty much explore to your heart’s content, but there is always an option to hold on a button to see where you should be headed. One of the cool things the game has to offer is right at the very beginning when you start your game, it gives you two options (pictured). You can have your main character, Cassie, be more or less “chatty”. Basically talking to herself to give you clues or to just hear her inner dialogue. I obviously chose the chattier version so I could enjoy the story, but I imagine the less chatty version is basically “hard mode” (I could be wrong).
The game plays out in acts, with each one ending at the conclusion of a story, so to speak. Like I said earlier, I don't want to spoil anything. The character development is fantastic, and you really start to get into the character as you play. I felt very connected to Cassie, and often felt empathy toward how she must have to live her life. She is supported by a small cast of friends via her cell phone. I should mention this as well because her phone has a program called “Delphi." This is what you use to “read” notes and documents you find while exploring the house. I will say this game really reminded me of Resident Evil (the good ones) in its exploration and puzzle solving.
Overall, Perception is a must play! Fantastic gameplay, a unique story and play style, engaging character and story development, and not to mention it's pretty gosh darn terrifying!
Let me know in the comments what you thought of this game.