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Perception Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Though imperfect, Perception offers a compelling story with a cool art style. There are some genuinely effective scares here, even though I wish the developers would have pushed the idea a little further. This is the kind of game where the concept is better than the execution, but it's still worth playing and I can see this turning into an incredible franchise. I just hope we're not stuck in another spooky mansion the next time around. Rating: 64%
Perception
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Switch owners don't have a lot of horror games to choose from this Halloween season. They can wait around for the eventual release of Resident Evil: Revelations, suffer through the horribly busted Don't Knock Twice, or take a chance on Perception, a small story-based chiller starring a blind girl stuck in a haunted house. If you ask me, and I'm going to assume that's what you're doing by coming to this review in the first place, I say go with Perception. It's far from perfect, but at least it's trying something new.

This is the story of Cassie, a determined young woman who has decided to come face to face with her fears. She's been having a lot of bad dreams lately that have all pointed her to an old abandoned mansion in the middle of nowhere. She's not sure what the nightmares mean or what it has to do with her, but she feels like there's something out there drawing her to this house for some reason. Little does Cassie know that she's about to uncover several generations' worth of anger, torment and death.


Let's not beat around the bush here, Cassie is trapped in a haunted house. She can hear and sense ghosts nearby and there's an evil phantom roaming the halls that will stop the investigation dead in its tracks. The idea is to explore the mansion looking for scraps of paper and, you guessed it, audio diaries. We'll also pick up keys and solve puzzles, but that largely takes a back seat to listening to story bits and hiding from the evil phantom.

Perception is split up into four hour-long vignettes, each with their own characters and mysteries. At first these stories seem almost random, but it won't take long to see how it all ties together. There's something about this house that makes people do crazy things, and the stories we're told are both shocking and heartbreaking. It's also occasionally scary, often in ways I wasn't expecting.

As a blind person, Cassie is only able to experience the world through sound waves. She uses the noises around her to construct the world through rough outlines. This basically looks exactly the same as what Hollywood does any time they need to visualize the point of view of the blind, but it's used to great effect here. We're essentially in the dark until we take a step or tap the environment with our cane. It's an unnerving visual style, and the game plays with what you can and cannot see in some clever ways.

Perception (Switch)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Cassie's blindness extends beyond the graphics and into the types of technology she uses. For example, she'll need to rely on a text-to-audio app to relay the writing on pieces of paper. She also has an interesting relationship with one of the service people aiding in her investigation. I really like the way that resolves and wish there was more stuff like that sprinkled throughout the story.

For as much as I enjoyed the look of the game, it's the sound design that really makes this game work. We're given a lot of audio cues throughout the game, and the ambience they set is truly frightening. There's always a sense that something bad is lurking nearby. You can hear it, feel it. The fact that you can't see what's around you only heightens the dread, giving us a first-person horror experience that isn't exactly like Amnesia or P.T.

That said, I do feel like Perception holds back on the horror. I love the style and enjoyed the stories, but it often seems like the scares are an afterthought. There are so many things the developers could have done with this gimmick, but instead we're chased by a boring phantom. I was always hoping to see something creepy coming out of the mansion, giving us a scripted moment that makes use of the unique blind vision. But we don't get anything like that here, instead the game relies on audio logs and hiding from the phantom.

Perception (Switch)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Another problem is that the mansion just isn't that interesting of a location. It's easy to get lost and the rooms aren't all that distinctive. I like that we get to see the same location from different points of view depending on the chapter we're in, but it would have been nice to be trapped in a more exciting setting. Because everything looks the same, I found myself relying on the guide button, which always pointed me in the right direction and showed me where I was supposed to go. This ended up making the game a little too easy and linear, but it beat the hell out of getting lost.

As a Switch game, the performance was generally fine. There were only a few moments when the game would hitch up, but it mostly ran smooth. That said, I wish Perception was a bit faster. You can boost the look speed and hold the left shoulder button to run, but the game still feels slower than the PC original. On a similar note, I found that any impact the scares might have had are completely lost in handheld mode. There's just something about playing it on the small screen that breaks the illusion.

Though imperfect, Perception offers a compelling story with a cool art style. There are some genuinely effective scares here, even though I wish the developers would have pushed the idea a little further. This is the kind of game where the concept is better than the execution, but it's still worth playing and I can see this turning into an incredible franchise. I just hope we're not stuck in another spooky mansion the next time around.
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