Sight. This all-important sense for the vast majority of living things on Earth is not something that you generally think about on a daily occurrence. How will you interact with the world without it, how will you live your life in total darkness? Our protagonist Cassie has learned to “see” using echolocation at a young age, honing her skills, ensuring she doesn’t need anyone to do even the most mundane tasks. However, young Cassie is haunted by an abandoned mansion in Massachusetts in her dreams. Even though she is blind, she journeys to the estate on her own, believing that she was meant to be there. Only thing she realizes that she should never have set foot inside that house.
Before you venture into the haunted mansion, players are given the option to keep Cassie from talking as she explores each room and interacts with the environment. I guess it exists for those that want to immerse themselves in the darkness, however, for my playthrough I opted to let her chat away. Being blind, the game’s visuals adamantly depict a dark and dreary environment. Using her talents, she can tap her cane on any surface, illuminating rooms in a bluish tint for a set amount of time as the sound vibrates off every surface. Doorways and fireplaces are marked with a green hue, letting you still navigate through the dark corridors without constantly tapping your cane. You can attempt to make your way around using the sound of your footsteps, but it only reveals a couple of feet around you before quickly dissipating. If you are thinking of always tapping the cane, so you are never in the dark, think again. The House is listening, and your presence there is not wanted.
Early on, you learn that just like in The Amityville Horror, the mansion is alive, in some form at least. Make too much noise, and an insectoid hooded creature hunts you down, turning the rooms a disturbing shade of red in the process. All of this combined creates a creepy atmosphere, but Perception isn’t just about Cassie. Each chapter takes you through the history of the inhabitants that lived in the mansion, allowing you to experience the influence the house has on their sanity. The supernatural elements are quite disturbing, and there are quite a few jump scares, as ghosts and ghouls appear and vanish right before you. Other ambient noises highlight the environment, such as howling wind, TVs, audio logs and even bubble wrap lined rooms.
As you might have guessed, walking (or running) through the dark can be quite confusing. Cassie’s sixth sense ability highlights the next object or room you need to reach in order to advance the narrative. Holding the button down, you’ll lock on to whatever it is, highlighting it through the blackness. Even so, I found it still difficult to reach the place I wanted to go. Door A may be the only way through to the objective, but for the door to open, you still need to go through door B and C to find that you need to explore the mansion. If you come across a letter, greeting card, or anything else that you would usually read in these types of games, you’ll scan it with your text to speech app on your phone. It’s a neat feature that I appreciated, keeping with the atmosphere the game is trying to create. With the threat of the monster always lurking, you can hear it with every tap of the cane; I grew cautious over time to not overuse the ability. If you happen to be hunted, there are countless hiding places to stay put, such as bathtubs, chests, and even behind curtains. If you are found, The Presence, as it is called, eats you alive, resetting your position to the main entrance of the estate.
Perception is a unique and is a downright frightening title. The narrative is well-written, and I was satisfied with my decision to listen to Cassie talk to herself as she explores the haunted estate. As you journey through the lives of the past residents, the house changes, keeping it from growing stale.
Note: Perception was reviewed based on a digital PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided by the publisher.