Perception
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 9

Perception is a unique horror title with a charming protagonist who just happens to be blind. This puts a whole new spin on exploring a haunted location, as you must use echolocation to find your way around. Although creepy, some horror elements, such as being chased by an evil presence if you make too much noise, don’t quite meet expectations. However, despite a couple of cliches, the story is interesting, and discovering what happened in the house throughout the years is fascinating. While the game won’t win any awards for its monochromatic visuals, it does feature some stellar voice acting. Players searching for an atmospheric ghost story that isn’t too demanding should try out Perception.

Gameplay: Perception is a little short and easy but very interesting while it lasts.

Graphics: The visuals are purposely kept simple, meaning they don’t look as good as some other horror titles.

Sound: The game features great ambient sound effects and brilliant voice acting, especially for the protagonist

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Perception

Developer: The Deep End Games | Publisher: Feardemic | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Adventure / Indie / Horror | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

If horror movies have taught us one thing, it’s that if you start having recurring nightmares about a creepy old building, it’s probably not a good idea to actively go look for it. Clearly, Cassie, the protagonist of Perception, didn’t get this memo because this is exactly what she sets out to do. Her endeavor is also a bit more tricky than it would be for the average person due to the fact that Cassie is completely blind. Luckily, her lack of sight has sharpened her sense of hearing, which means she can use echolocation to find her way around. Ambient noises, such as the wind, can paint a picture of her surroundings, but Cassie primarily uses her cane to figure out what is happening. Unfortunately for Cassie, she not only finds the house of her nightmares but also discovers that it is very haunted, and one of the ghosts, in particular, appears to be provoked by noise.

While at first glance, Perception might look like just another horror-themed “walking simulator,” there is a bit more to it than that. Since Cassie is blind, navigating the house is a little trickier for one. We are used to dark or gloomy locations in horror titles, but unless she is tapping her cane or there are some ambient noises present, Cassie is surrounded by pitch blackness. After the sound of your cane fades away, so do the outlines of your surroundings, plunging you back into oppressive darkness again. Fortunately, the house is never totally quiet, and Cassie remembers the location of doorways, which makes it a little easier to find your bearings. Of course, you can constantly tap your cane to get a good view of your surroundings, but this is generally not a good idea. The abandoned estate holds more than just secrets, and making too much noise will draw out “The Presence.” Cassie is just an ordinary person, so she cannot fight off the evil spirit that roams the house halls. Instead, it is better to make as little noise as possible or make a dash for one of the many hiding spots in the house if The Presence shows up. From cupboards and chests to beds, Cassie has plenty of spots to conceal herself, but careful players shouldn’t worry too much about the malevolent Presence. If you get caught and killed, Cassie wakes up again at the starting location for the chapter, although thankfully, you don’t lose your progress. One thing to watch out for is the fact that the game doesn’t have any form of manual save and instead auto-saves at certain spots. So, make sure that you have reached one of these spots before exiting the game, or else you might be in for a nasty surprise when you continue in the future.

While exploring the house, Cassie can pick up particular objects to trigger memories about its owner. These memories reveal more about the story and the events that transpired in the house. Each chapter represents a specific time period in the house’s history, which also changes the layout slightly. Also, while Cassie is trapped inside for most of the game, you do get to venture outside on a few occasions.

In addition to the memories she can trigger, Cassie can find notes, recordings, and other items of interest. Since she is blind, Cassie cannot read the notes, but this problem is solved with her phone. Clicking on a note automatically causes Cassie to take a photo of it and listen to the playback from her text-to-speech app. In addition, she has a “Friendly Eyes” app, which sends any photo you take to a person who then describes it to you. Like the text-to-speech app, the Friendly Eyes app can only be used in certain predefined situations, but it is a cool touch nonetheless. At some points, Cassie’s progress is hampered by locked doors or obstacles, which require you to find keys or other items. This is where Cassie’s ability to “sense” where to go comes in handy. The ability is activated by holding the “Ctrl” button, but it only shows you where you need to go and not how to get there.

Perception is viewed in the first person, and according to the press release, the developers previously worked on titles such as BioShock and Dead Space. However, it is still an indie title and clearly had a small budget. Visually, your surroundings are primarily shades of blue and white, which fits in with the echolocation aspect of the game but also makes everything look a bit drab. The only time that you’ll notice any other colors is when your vision turns amber or red, which happens when you make too much noise and the Presence makes an appearance. Although you are alone in the house, you’ll sometimes run into the ghostly apparitions of previous owners, but they cannot harm or interact with you. The same cannot be said for the mechanical dolls that you encounter in one of the chapters, and these pint-sized poppets caught us by surprise on a few occasions. While not as terrifying as some horror titles, Perception has a couple of jump scares, which work nicely in conjunction with the echolocation feature. Your surroundings are purposefully kept dark and low in detail, making it easier for your imagination to fill in the blanks. Having said that, Perception is a title that must be experienced under ideal conditions to get the most out of it.

Appropriately enough for a game about a blind protagonist, the audio in Perception is definitely the highlight of the experience. With a good speaker setup, you can hear every creak and groan in the house thanks to the brilliant ambient sound effects. You’ll also hear some musical snippets at times, but for the most part, the game keeps quiet to enhance the atmosphere. On the other hand, Cassie is quite talkative and constantly makes observations or wonders out loud about certain things. Her voice actress has done a great job providing her with a charming personality, but some players might find her a bit too chatty. Luckily, the developers knew this and included the option to tone down the voice acting for those who prefer their horror games a little quieter. The rest of the voice acting heard through the memories or recordings you find, is just as good and definitely elevates the audio above what can usually be found in indie titles. The controls are standard first-person fare, although initially, the game didn’t support keyboard remapping, this was added later.

In total, it took us about five hours to complete Perception, although this would have been a lot shorter if we hadn’t explored it as much. We also really enjoyed the story and how it all ties together in the end, but since it features quite a few genre tropes, more discerning horror buffs might not appreciate it as much. The market is flooded with plenty of horror titles, but Perception offers something a little different from the usual, which helps to set it apart. It could be better, and the horror elements never quite live up to our expectations for such a unique protagonist, but it kept us hooked right to the end.

Since the original publication of this review in 2017, Perception has received a substantial update, which added two new modes to the game. In addition to the original, remastered version of the game, players can also choose between “Story” and “Scary” modes. The former allows players to focus on the narrative so Cassie can explore freely without fear of getting killed. In contrast, the Scary mode features less health for Cassie and a more aggressive Presence. The update also features performance improvements, additional checkpoints, and resurrection points, a revamped warning system, plot clarification, and much more.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 (64-bit)
  • Processor: Dual core CPU @2.4 GHz +
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 470 GTX or Radeon 6870
  • Storage: 7 GB available space

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