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Perception review: Laudable protagonist, but not really a horror game

A sightless woman explores a dark house and

A sightless woman explores a dark house and fears she may not be alone in this mysterious game. Credit: The Deep End Games / Bill Gardner

PLOT A blind woman explores a mysterious house.

RATED M for Mature

DETAILS PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC; $22.99

BOTTOM LINE The promising premise would work better as a tale of the supernatural.

With few exceptions, like Daredevil, popular culture doesn’t allot much space to disabled heroic people. Perception is among those rarities. It opens with Cassie, the game’s protagonist, telling us that when you’re sightless you learn whom to trust and you learn to trust yourself. Two brief episodes from Cassie’s life reinforce this. In the first, we hear children teasing her, and in the second we hear an instructor leading her through an exercise meant to train her hearing to identify the distinct sounds of different domestic objects. Soon after that, we find Cassie outside an isolated New England house. Through voice-over, she tells us that a series of bad dreams has led her to the house to seek answers for her nighttime torments.

The player’s first-person perspective is limited to the outlines of objects in Cassie’s immediate vicinity, which she picks up from standing next to or walking and listening to the echo of her footfalls. Her visual field can be increased by using her cane to tap against surfaces and create sound fields around her.

The developers should have marketed their game as a ghost tale instead of a horror game. You’ll want to explore the house cautiously. An on-screen warning discourages you from frequently using the cane since the noise can attract attention. Even heeding this advice could accidentally trigger the murderous presence in the house. Flashing red lights and unintelligible whispers are among the elements that are used to evoke fear to little effect.

On the plus side, the technology Cassie uses to navigate the world is interesting. She has an app on her phone that converts text to speech and another one that puts her in contact with a sighted person who can describe the surroundings to her. These technologies make Cassie, well portrayed by the voice actress Angela Morris, an endearing mixture of vulnerable and daring.

— The Washington Post

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