I have been absolutely excited for Perception for what feels like forever. The horror genre has felt a bit finicky for video games lately and Perception came across to me as something different. It didn’t seem like it was a dull jump scare fest or one of those games that rely more on action than actual horror, but what it actually is turned out to be something far more different than your usual run of the mill horror game.
Phenomenal sound design – What Perception lacks in visuals it makes up tenfold with sound design. It presents a terrifying thrill throughout the game from the house creaking to the absolutely terrible and surreal voice of The Presence which will make you listen to every bump in the night. Where it excels in sound it also excels in silence as the player will be aware of things for brief moments until it disappears and makes noise again. This can be chilling as there may be sounds you wish you didn’t hear and they suddenly stop, or approach your character. The fantastic sound editing and voice acting for The Presence may be the most creepy thing gamers hear from any horror title out there. Its voice is a combination of an insect and something mechanical akin to nothing you may have heard before and, to put it simply, may stay embedded in players minds for a long time to come.
Unique echolocation game-play – An aspect of Perception that stands out from the rest is its echolocation mechanic. Since your character is blind you have to navigate through the environment using echolocation. The mechanic is implemented extremely well as objects you hit with your cane emits a sound-wave that shapes objects in your area, assisting the player in making sense of their surroundings. At the same time the mechanic helps build atmosphere, as well, as creaks and small noises in the house will play a crucial part in surviving the game. What the game makes you fully aware of is if the house is listening, which can be taken literally or not, as it creaks or moans when you create too much noise. It’s a nice way to telegraph a sense of dread to the player that has not been executed well in many games before.
Intelligently pieced story with fleshed out characters – The plot throughout Perception is outstanding. Each chapter takes place in a different point and time as it tells a new story while remaining interconnected in a smart way. A lot of backstory is found within the audio logs and, thankfully, these produce a sound that’s really easy to spot given the circumstances. The voice acting is excellent and makes you really connect with the main characters. Even the side characters you talk with on the in-game phone feel refreshing and fleshed out. Unfortunately, due to game-breaking bugs that prevented a full completion of the main story, I was unable to identify whether or not the game had a satisfying ending.
Replay value for achievements – Achievement hunters out there who desire challenges may find that there is lots of replay value to Perception as certain achievements require completing the game under certain restrictions. For example, there is an achievement that requires completion without the cane which adds another layer of difficulty in a creative way that will make you try playing through over and over.
Functionality – An unfortunate issue that the title suffers from, as far as the Xbox One version goes, is that an bug tends to spur up randomly for people who are luckless. The problem occurs once you get to Chapter Four of the game, or the final chapter, that may not load correctly thus making the game unbeatable. There is a workaround to this but unfortunately it requires you to restart your playthrough. I found this very disappointing especially since the rest of it is an absolute blast. All though this is said, the developers are aware of the glitch so a patch may eventually appear to fix it.
Game glitches preventing unlocking achievements – Achievement hunters out there will have gripes when it comes to Perception on two different fronts: achievements not unlocking properly and impossible ones due to in-game glitches. As of yet there has been no one who has been able to complete the achievement/trophy list on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 thanks to bugs littering the game. Hopefully these will be resolved in whatever patch the team at Deep End Games will throw out to the public but for now it’s impossible. This is especially apparent when avoiding The Presence the entire playthrough as an achievement. If you’re generally careful you can easily avoid The Presence but frustrating appearances may occur resulting in facing the ethereal being unexpectedly. This may come off as strange considering no matter how careful you may be there’s a strong possibility it will appear in an area that has no hiding places and kill the player immediately. It’s unclear whether this is scripted or not and if it’ll appear at the end of the game, but if it isn’t and The Presence needs to be avoided in this impossible situation then it will be extremely irritating.
Collectibles – The title faults on the difficulty that is present in finding collectibles. Since you are blind in the game you’ll have to use echolocation to find most of the collectibles. I say most because, as mentioned before, the audio logs are easily found since they produce sound automatically visible. There is an issue that occurs from this, however, as The Presence will start hunting you if you beat your cane on every inch of the house. Luck is a factor as you can stumble across the collectibles while playing or notice them when close enough but it’s may feel discouraging to even look for them when you’re fearful of alerting The Presence. Guides will most likely be your way of finding all of them without using your echolocation too much in follow-up playthroughs.
In summary, Perception is a thrilling adventure through an ever-changing house of horrors. If you’re tired of the same old jump scares then Perception will make you afraid of things you didn’t even know you were afraid of. The title has superb sound effects, voice acting, and story-telling all coupled with the a fun and refreshing game-play mechanic in its echolocation. Perception is a definite must-play title for fans looking to get spooked and will only get better once the developers push out a patch for the title.
Perception was developed by The Deep End Games and published by Feardemic as part of the ID@Xbox program. The game released on Xbox One [reviewed], PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam on June 7th, 2017. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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