It might not seem like a good idea to make a protagonist in a video game blind, especially with games being such visual mediums. Yet The Deep End Games created Perception, which somehow takes that concept and makes it work. Perception uses the idea of echolocation, which gives the protagonist a cane that allows the player to “see” its surrounding environment. It’s a brilliant idea and serves as the main focus of gameplay.
That’s not to say that Perception is perfect, but doing something never done before rarely is. So let’s get to the heart of this review.
Perception puts gamers in the role of Cassie, a blind woman investigating a haunted house. This is a horror title, which means that Cassie must stumble around the large property and unmask its secrets. And the house has a long history of secrets that take place throughout the history of the home. As Cassie stumbles around rooms, each story begins to play itself out, thanks to audio files, documents and ghosts. Cassie must unveil the details of each story before proceeding to the next one.
The stories are interesting enough that gamers will want to continue learning more. There are optional audio files and documents scattered throughout the house, too, that will add other details to the narrative. There are also some great scare moments that will leave gamers jumping out of their skins.
The ingenious idea of helping gamers traverse a haunted house while blind involves using the cane, which, when tapped, allows the players to “see” each room through echolocation. But that makes things way too easy, so the game has a deadly “Presence” that turns up when Cassie makes too much noise. Cassie can try to run (which is usually pointless) or hide (which sometimes works if she’s fast enough). Unlike many games, though, Cassie cannot fight back, so stealth is important when working her way through the house.
There are also some puzzles to solve, although the most challenging is figuring out how to get from one room to the next. There’s a hint system that outlines the next goal, but getting there when there are walls in the way that players might not “see” until they bump into them keeps the game challenging. There are also a few other antagonists that Cassie must hide from that also means that nothing is ever as easy as it seems.
There’s just one problem with the cane idea: echolocation only lasts for a few seconds, which means that players will need to tap it a lot. But then that brings the Presence, so there is still a lot of stumbling around in the game with nothing but a black screen, or running and hiding from the Presence. It does get frustrating after some time, although some might enjoy the additional challenge.
Perception excels at sound design, as it should. It is a game, after all, about a blind protagonist, who must rely on her other senses, especially hearing, to traverse the haunted house. Players will need to listen for anything that seems off, including the sound of the Presence breathing somewhere nearby. Fortunately, this game makes it easy because the sound design is very good.
Voice acting, too, is a high note of Perception. Each character, including Cassie, make the game feel believable.
Perception wins major points for offering up something new, especially with many so many games caught up in endless cycles of doing the same old thing. The brilliance of using echolocation to allow a blind protagonist to progress through a game is a given, even if it does get frustrating at times. Using sound to help players make their way safely through the house’s many rooms (which change depending on the story) also works in a satisfying way.
Perception is available now for download on PC and consoles.
Rating: (4 / 5)
Note: FanGirlConfessions.com received a review copy of Perception for PlayStation 4.