For the short time it's been talked about, Perception has kind of been the indie darling everyone is saying you need to try out. What little we've seen of the game is intriguing and the concept is very different to what you see on the market now. So we were stoked to get a copy of the game before it's released this Tuesday from Feardemic and The Deep End Games.
Perception is a first-person horror game puts you in the position of a blind woman named Cassie. Over the years, Cassie learned to find her way around this earth using echolocation and is visualized in the game the same way they portray Daredevil in Marvel comics. You see part of the objects and what's around you but not the whole picture. By tapping your cane and other objects, you send vibrations out that reveal the world around you in brief moments. The movement of wind as it passes by and around objects also gives you a sense of what's around you, but not as defined. Using a combination of those tactics, you'll make your way around to discover… well… we're not sure.
The thinly strung together storyline puts you at the doorstep of an abandoned house in New England, where you somehow have figured out that this is where you keep having dreams about. If it sounds like we're skipping a lot, trust me, we're not. That is as much explanation as you get to why you went to a spooky house alone, not including how you figured out where this house was. You hop on a plane to Echo Bluff (get it?) and ignore who we assume is your friend or brother on the phone to explore the creepy mansion on your own. You'll move about, pick up objects that will somehow give you memories and find other sources of info like tape recorders that will help you piece together your adventure.
To prevent you from spamming the stick every five feet, the game has introduced a roaming specter called "The Presence," who will come after you if you make too much noise and kill you instantly if caught. But there's no meter or system in place to show you how much noise you can make before causing him to arrive, so you find yourself walking through the dark a lot out of fear of doing something wrong. Most of the time if you think things are okay, you'll quickly find you are screwed. Which is a pain to find out as there's apparently a lot of things in this house that make noise and not a single one of them drag it away from you—it's just you who is in danger.
This gets really old, really quick. You're forced into a situation where you can't make a decision without randomly dying, and there's no way to predict if you're near the brink of death or if you can take steps to stop it from happening. This becomes even more of a hassle when you start heading into rooms where there's a lot of stuff making noise for no apparent reason other than "spooky house," and all of this is hampered by the idea that you're still trying to make sense of a story that makes little sense. The ultimate moment that pissed me off was being hunted down by creepy dolls who have the ability to shoot you on occasion.
I believe that statement alone kind of ties together my overall frustration with Perception, which is that I have no idea what the hell I'm doing here. Yeah, I know what the game is, but I really have no clue as to what the overall goal of this is. The story is so thinly veiled about what my goals are in this house that I became bored with it and wanted to encounter a lot more death just to give me something better to do than finding the right set of clues to open the next green door. The acting from Cassie doesn't help either, as she doesn't seem to have a personality at times, and other times she has misplaced emotion. At one point she screams loudly in a room (which you think would get her killed) the words "I don't know what I'm doing here!" I couldn't have agreed more.
I really wanted to love Perception, but the lack of story and never-ending taps on the ground to find my way inevitably annoyed the hell out of me. The mechanic is a great one, especially since it's based on the real-world practicality of how blind people get around—but for a game, it's been turned into a joyless task that ultimately brings you random death the way Russian Roulette would. This feels much more point-and-click based than anything, and I expected more from a game that was being applauded by critics in previews a few months ago.