Perception Review

Perception is the story of Cassie, a woman who is haunted by nightmares of events taking place in an old mansion. Upon learning that the mansion in her dreams actually exists, Cassie travels to the mansion to try to learn why she has a connection to the mansion and why it is appearing in her dreams. Exploring a strange mansion from your dreams is a frightening prospect on its own, but for Cassie it's even more so because Cassie is blind.

Perception screenshot 3

You may be wondering how you can explore a mansion as a blind character, and the answer to that is echolocation, or navigation via sound. Cassie "sees" the world in much the same way as a bat does, by listening for the echoes of sounds as they bounce off of objects and walls in the environment. When you make Cassie tap her cane, a wave of sound is released and "paints" objects in the darkness that are in their path. Even Cassie's footsteps reveal what's immediately around her, and the wind blowing through an open window will reveal its frame and the drapes billowing around it, but if the sounds around Cassie fade, the world will return to darkness. To keep you from spamming the cane tap button to keep the mansion illuminated around you, the game adds a deadly "presence" to the mansion that has a low tolerance for noise. Make too much noise and the presence will chase you down and kill you (i.e. send you back to the last checkpoint).

At first this is an interesting game mechanic - the darkness enveloping the mansion certainly adds to your sense of foreboding as you make your way through it. However, that tension quickly melts away as you realize that there's not much to the game's haunted mansion. The game is very linear, carefully controlling what path you can take through the mansion and when you can take it. Being led around by the nose like that made me feel that the game was more of a Haunted Mansion ride than it was a game. Haunted visions are triggered when you interact with the few objects in the mansion that allow for interaction, but they feel more like small story vignettes than anything that can harm you. And the presence that doesn't like noise is easily enough avoided without sacrificing too much in the way of creating noise and "seeing" what's around you.

Perception screenshot 5

Strip away the game's echolocation feature and you're left with a rather lackluster ghost story adventure game. The path through the game is extremely linear, there's little in the way of interaction, and what puzzles there are in the game are simple and far and few between, For the dark to be scary, you have to believe that there is something lurking in it somewhere, but in Perception the darkness felt about as scary as my bedroom does at night.

Final Rating: 50% - Perception misses on the two points that horror games have to hit: fear and fun.


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