Lately, Indie games have become some of my centrally favorite treats in the realm of videogames. The concise format has become a relaxing getaway from mainstream, massive open-world games that tend to makeup the majority of releases nowadays. Perception is undoubtedly a notable standout in recent indie titles when it comes to innovative story delivery but not all parts follows through.
Perception follows Cassie as she heads out to visit an abandoned mansion that she has been haunted by in dreams. A lot of the setup feels vaguely familiar to Gone Home, with one huge divisive addition… Cassie is blind. Being blind she is only able to navigate using “echolocation,” a sort of Daredevil-esque way of sensing the world around you.
Using echolocation in the game relies on sounds in any given space. For example, tapping your cane on the floor sends out waves allowing you to catch glimpses of your environment. This becomes horrifying for two blaring reasons, you guys. For one, you are having to make noise in order to “see.” And two, when you aren’t tapping your screen is completely black. Once you learn the mechanics of the game, an ominous force known as the Presence, will come find you if you make too much noise. This leaves you rationing the amount of times you are allowed to tap your cane, while trying to navigate the spooky house.
This first-person experience is all about exploration and mostly plays out through audio-recordings or notes left around the house. Phone apps that were designed to assist the blind come into play, as Cassie can turn text to speech, or send other users pics of whatever images she needs deciphered.
Perception, is broken into four different stories, each taking place in a different era. In each era, Cassie discovers the fates of different residents who have lived and died in the house. Each classically gothic horror story is based partly on fact and unravels in dark and unexpected ways.
The stories end up taking center stage in terms of what will keep you playing through the game as a whole. A lot of the divisive mechanics that make the game a standout, become gimmicky at times even a complete nuisance. When you start the game off, tapping your cane and taking in pulses of your surroundings is spine-chilling, but towards the end of the game you will find yourself tapping with little to no caution. The Tales from the Crypt-ish anthology stories, are the real meat of this meal and at times will cause some goose bump-inducing jump scares.
I found it really interesting that when beginning a new game, you are given an option that will either allow Cassie to pedantically speak in-game or to keep silent. This has become something I’m fascinated with as of late. Silent protagonists in games allow the player to feel like they are truly stepping into the shoes of the character. Sometimes when protagonists speak, it can immediately break any immersion may have been built up. I chose to keep Cassie with her in game voice and soon changed that option back to the quiet approach. Cassie’s reaction to scary moments isn’t believable, a lot of times her response is filled with bravado and would be a better fit for Ash from Evil Dead. I highly recommend playing this one without a chatty Cassie.
Perception, achieves tons of innovation in a game that would have felt too much like Gone Home without the echolocation mechanics. If you go in knowing this isn’t a fast-paced or over strictly terrifying game, you will get the absolute most out of the story. I appreciate the concise short story telling delivery system that it does achieve, and even when the mechanics that may have sold you on this game begin to get old, a well told story will keep you held for in place for a satisfying finale.
Perception is out now on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.