In Perception, you play as Cassie, a blind heroine who needs to unpick the mysteries of an abandoned house which is haunting her dreams. She isn’t afraid of the dark – the whole world is dark to her, but you as the player, probably are.
As the game starts you’re immediately introduced to how Cassie gets about – by echolocation. With sensitive hearing, she can help ‘picture’ what is around her, swathed in (to us) various colours. Your main method of being able to create sound is by clapping your cane on the floor, sending a ‘sound wave’ out which helps you see what is around you.
This is pretty cool, and is shown with sweeping colour for the player. Footsteps emit a small burst of this colour, as do objects scattered around – televisions, fans, the wind all help to build a visual picture for you, before the darkness returns in the world. This naturally creates a very scary environment whereby you only get a ‘look’ every few seconds.
The main downfall here is that surely you just keep banging your cane repeatedly in order to be able to constantly see. The antagonist here is ‘The Presence’ which, if you make too much noise, chases and devours you. On my first play through I fell foul to this beast, but on subsequent attempts I discovered a bit of an issue – if you just ‘feel’ you way around in the darkness, you’ll never attract The Presence. If you go crazy banging everything, you can speed through the story and take momentary rest-bite in various hampers dotted around which you can climb in to hide.
With this threat understood and disarmed, you’re left with a ‘walking simulator’ story game with a very shallow colour palette. Tapes dotted around try to flesh out the backstory, and you have the choice of a Chatty Cassie (who quips to herself, a lot) or a more silent affair, where only dialogue relevant to the story is heard.
There are a few other cool bits though. Despite the jump-scares which are fairly obvious (although I fell for every one), the game handles Cassie’s blindness in clever ways. Her phone has Delphi, which is a more advanced Siri and can read out text messages to her, and scan objects and read out what they say on them (such as a bottle of pills). Cassie has a ‘sixth sense’ which highlights key objects and places to go. This is helpful but probably too helpful as it’s essentially a very clear waypoint on where to go next to proceed with the story. As a result it very much is a follow-the-waypoint adventure, one which you should not be too noisy about doing.
Perception is around four hours long in total, and even then probably outstays its welcome a bit too much. Some clever ideas aren’t quite fleshed out enough to make it a must buy experience, and even with the low price point it’s not really going to attract even the most hardcore horror gamers.
Reviewed on PS4