Perception Review: The Sound of Madness

June 16th, 2017 -

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be blind? Let’s be honest, you can close your eyes and walk around your house bumping into shit and get a really good idea of what it’s like. Perception has come along to show us that being blind may not be that bad. The game follows a young woman named Cassie, who happens to be blind and on a journey to explore a mansion that has plagued her with nightmares.

Luckily, Cassie has a form of echo location, similar to dolphins or Marvel Comic’s Daredevil, so she can kind of see where she is. This doesn’t explain how the hell she found this mansion across the country – I couldn’t do this while having all of my senses. I am assuming she’s psychic, but the game never really clarifies this.

Presence Door

You will spend the entirety of the game wandering around this mansion and its grounds piecing together the stories of the home’s past inhabitants. All of the past tenants met their ends in various ways that will play out before you in a series of flashbacks. Unfortunately, Cassie can’t really see much, so they tend to be kind of boring, and while you get a good idea of what happened, they are not very crisp nor entertaining.

The rest of the visuals are not much more appealing than the ghosts. I really do get the point that she is blind, but the outlines of particular items are often sloppy looking, as well as disproportionate. I came across a number of paint brushes that could take out a Buick in one swipe as they appeared to be Thor’s hammer Mjölnir sitting on top of a coffee table.

The sound design does fare much better than the visual aspect. While most of the voice actors sound bored or overact more than Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, some of the ghosts do an excellent job of creating tension and draw you into their individual plights. The first chapter features a woman who was clearly going through postpartum depression and her voice shows it. Meanwhile, her husband sounds like he’s been taking her drugs and then some. Cassie constantly swaps between sounding so sure of herself you’d think she was a member of the Kardashian clan to C- grade horror movie actress.

ThePresence_DiningRoom

The sounds you would expect from an eerie, decrepit house are all present and sound as they should. This was probably the high point of the tension for this game. Up until you discover the mechanics for the antagonist, you will feel a sense of dread and the unknown.

While on your trek through this abandoned home, you will be using your cane to make noise to see your surroundings. The sound design that went into the cane’s audible smacks is quite impressive. Depending on what type of surface you hit, it will emit a realistic sound for that item. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make the game any better, but I was looking for something positive to say. Fun story, these sounds annoyed my wife to the point I now have a new go to when she’s mad at me. She hasn’t avoided me this much since I binged Hotline Miami for a few weeks.

Unfortunately, making too much noise will result in an angry ghost to make your normal blue echo vision a nasty red-ish orange. He’ll then stalk the area and if he finds you, you’ll have to load a checkpoint. Like everything else visually in this game, the ghost isn’t very pretty or terrifying. You can hide in closets, chests, lockers, and all of the other areas stolen from the Outlast franchise. Regrettably, the fact that you can’t see without noise makes these segments a chore.

TheTree

This is the extent of the gameplay; there are some minor puzzles to solve, but the levels are so linear that it’s not difficult to locate where you are going. If you do happen to get stuck, you can hold the L trigger and your objective will light up and the HUD will point you in the right direction. If you choose to use this optional feature, it will turn the game into a 3-5 hour fetch quest.

The only other tool at your disposal is your cell phone. You’ll occasionally receive calls from your unconvincing boyfriend as well as use an app that will scan notes and read them to you. Unfortunately, these become boring very quickly, as you must keep the cell phone up while the message is read to you at a snail’s pace. At least the cell phone got a better voice actor than the protagonist.

While not awful, it definitely could have been improved with stronger visuals and better implementations. I feel with a bit more effort, The Dead End Games could have given us a horror masterpiece, much like the original Outlast or the recent Narcosis. While I was disappointed in this outing, I think the former Irrational Game team can give us a quality experience in the future and will keep them on my radar. However, I would only recommend purchasing this game when it inevitably becomes discounted.

RENT

Pros

  • Sound Design
  • Cool Concept
  • Creepy Locale

Cons

  • Dull Voice Acting
  • Lackluster Visuals
  • Boring Protagonist

Perception was developed by The Deep End Games and published by Feardemic. The first episode launched on PC on May 30th, 2017, as well as PS4 and X1 June 6th, 2017 for $22.99 and will be released in the future on the Nintendo Switch. The game was provided to us for review on Xbox One. If you’d like to see more of Perception, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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