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Game Review: Perception

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Created by ex-employees of Bioshock’s Irrational Games, Perception is a unique horror experience that utilises the main character, Cassie’s, lack of sight to create an interestingly terrifying game.

 

Perception follows Cassie as she investigates a recurring dream that brings her back to this one house and the horrors that have happened there. A pretty standard plot, if we’re being honest, but it’s the unique twist of Cassie’s blindness and the fact that this is a first-person perspective game, that definitely sets this game apart from other recent horror game releases.

You spend most of Perception in darkness and the only light you receive is through sounds. Some are those you can find in a house – a television set, a radio, a fire crackling in the fireplace, the wind whistling through a door. Others, you control yourself, by the tapping of a cane against the floor.

But don’t tap too much. Make too much noise and The Presence is drawn to you.

So, you end up spending a good part of the game panic using your cane at every dark corner, knowing that you’re just drawing the scares closer.

But that’s part of the greatness of this game; sometimes, nothing is actually happening. You’re doing it all yourself because being plunged into darkness in a horror game is scary – being permanently in darkness in a horror game is terrifying. It allows for a continuous sense of tension and dread and sets up a rhythm to the gameplay that makes the break of the norm even more distressing.

You spend the game exploring this house, unravelling the stories of the people who lived and died there – and what Cassie’s connection to them all is. Essentially, this game is a horror walking simulator. Most of the puzzles can be solved by searching for a single object or finding the right door to go through. It’s not difficult to progress from one point to the other.

But the difficulty doesn’t seem to be the point. Walking simulators are about the stories themselves and the characters you encounter, and on both those things, Perception delivers.

There are four chapters, set in four different time periods, each story standing alone as well as working together to complete the narrative of this nightmarish household. And the person who holds everything together is Cassie.

She’s a thoroughly engaging main character, who has far more determination and strength of will than you the player. The story works on her empowerment, giving her agency over her own life and her own choices.

The game allows you to decide how much involvement Cassie has in your experience of the game – ‘Silent Night’ keeps Cassie quiet unless it’s important to the story whereas ‘Chatty Cassie’ has you experiencing the world through Cassie. In the second option, she’ll talk and react to events. Personally, Cassie’s experiences and her arc are part of why this game is so enjoyable and I wouldn’t recommend you missing out on that.

Perception is a well rendered and utterly individual take on the horror walking simulator. Cassie is engaging and the plot allows for interesting ideas to be played with. It doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and, although there are aspects that could have benefitted from more explanation, including what The Presence actually is, it is an overly enjoyable experience.

Perception was released on May 30th.

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