My luck with games lately is really bad… First I had a complete double disappointment last week, now I have to play a first person horror game that isn’t scary. Well done Perception, you turned me off with horror, that’s a first.
Cassie is a troubled young woman. She keeps having nightmares of the same place, the same mysterious house, that seems to call her and won’t let her concentrate on her boyfriend and her relationship. Like any horror movie bimbo, her first idea is to go explore that place on her own, without waiting for her boyfriend/friend (who for the record was on his way to help her the entire time). And that’s where the first disgusting tentacles of third-wave feminism started to appear, as Cassie proudly declares that she can do it herself without a man’s help, as she bravely steps into the mansion without being able to see sh!t. Of course 5 minutes later, she has immediately regretted her decision, not so much because her nature as a female, but because SHE IS BLIND. Seriously, I thought people with visual disabilities were supposed to be wiser than the rest of us, why is she such an idiot?!
In her terrifying first ten minutes inside the house, Cassie comes to realise that some evil presence is haunting the house. Here I’ll have to give credits to Perception, as Cassie comes to terms with the existance of ghosts much quicker than the average protagonist, who needs about 2-3 hours before he is convinced that the unholy abominations before him are indeed supernatural. Then again, one could argue that that’s because the whole game barely lasts 2-3 hours, so having her be in denial all that time would be stupid. Then again-then again, that same one person could also argue that she seems a bit «too» ready for the revelation that the spawns of satan walk amongst us. Seriously, she doesn’t doubt it even for a second. The door closed from a sudden gust of wind ~ THE GREAT CTHULHU HAS RISEN FROM R’LYEH! ~.
But I digress, the end result is, various women who had lived in said haunted house had been plagued by visions, just like Cassie is, and where driven by madness that may or may have not been caused by their families (all questionably male). As the house tries to show Cassie the various mysteries surrounding it, its architecture changes on its own, with new rooms and chambers reflecting the various historical periods of the building. At the same time, a monster starts hunting Cassie, forcing her into hiding in order to avoid it, and its nature appears to be… «Buggy.»
I hope you didn’t get your survival horror boners up from the mention of a monster hunting you though. The monster only drops by in predetermined moments of the story, and otherwise barely bothers to move a table or suddenly turn up the radio when we’re not looking. Passing by it is fairly easy too, with ample hiding spots all over the place. Now, the trick lies in not using your cane too much. Pressing your cane on the floor, causes sound waves to be emitted, revealing the surrounding area for a bit, but it also «alerts the house to your presence». What that means is anyone’s guess, as during my playthrough of Perception, nothing happened no matter how much I intentionally taunted the house.
You can see it from the screenshots, but the main idea of the game is that you’ll use sound as a replacement for your lost vision, an idea that unfortunately doesn’t work nearly as well as the developers hoped. You’ll spend less time solving the mysteries of the occult and more time accidentally hitting your head on the door or trying to walk through a wall that you thought was a passage. After the thrill of the first ten minutes, when you get used to the mechanic, the whole «blindness» thing becomes a chore. From the few 100% blind people I’ve met, their main way of navigation is via the sense of touch, something that a video game can’t possibly convey, so the idea was flawed from the start.
Having trouble navigating only adds to the pile of problems perception has though, the most obvious of which is that the house is apparently locaated in South Hill, because every second door is locked. Using a sixth sense of something you can see where your next objective is through the walls, but how you get there is left to the imagination of the player, with only 1 of the 20 identical closed doors actually being unlocked. Perhaps it’s just me, but I always found it a sign of bad game design when the player starts to notice the obvious A->B path the developers have set for him.
Other than that there really isn’t much to say about it. I gave up on Perception after I arrived to the carnival area, where I got stuck for the tenth time trying to find out which door could open, all the while I was hitting my head on every nook and cranny of the house. Survivng a haunted mansion had become a chore, and that’s when I put down the controller.
The game uses Unreal Engine 3, so obviously it is really light and should run on most systems. Surprisingly I found the sound of all things to be lacking, with the music usually turned too loud, perhaps to hide the fact that there are few sound effects in the environment. It didn’t help that Cassie’s va never bothered to go full-dramatic with the revelations about evil incarnate, but instead maintained a constant whiny, distressed-but-never-panicked tone. As for the visuals… They’re fun the first 10 minutes, afterwards they start getting annoying, like, really annoying.
No, no, no. We have Steam Summer Sales, there are much better things you could be spending your money on. In the end, the only dreadful feelings Perception will be invoking on you are mild frustration and boredom. A horror game should never feel like a chore. Gamehorizon gives a major thumbs down.
- The first 10 minutes.
- Everything else.
- Cassie's underacting is a turn-off.
- The Silent Hill problem of locked doors.
- Navigating is really annoying.
- The random feminism messages will annoy you.
- Predetermined monster appearances.
- Nonsensical rooms (an arcade? really?).
- A game where you're blind in a haunted mansion is somehow boring.