The Switch has already received quite a few horror games in its first 8 months in the market, and it’s also set to receive both Resident Evil Revelations games at the end of the month. Despite this, most of those horror releases were, in fact, pretty bad games. Don’t Knock Twice‘s Switch port runs as well as trying to play Crysis on a Windows Vista laptop and Vaccine is simply one of the worst games of 2017, period. Coming from the minds of several former Irrational Games developers, Perception tries to redeem the reputation of Switch horror games by bringing originality to the table.
Perception is a first-person survival horror that plays more like an adventure game than anything else. You control a blind woman, and that alone makes the game stand out from its most recent peers. In order to see what’s in front of you, you need to make noise, and by doing so, your main character can use echolocation. Everything that produces a sound, be it a record player or the wind, is “visible” to your character. That makes for an innovative but also annoying gameplay mechanic: using your cane to locate yourself every five seconds, as your echolocation vision lasts for only a second or two. The fact it’s quite hard for you to see what’s in front of you adds a layer of challenge to an otherwise very small map but also brings up the problem that, if you start making too much noise, you awaken an unbeatable enemy called the Presence, which acts more or less like enemies in Outlast or the Xenomorph in Alien: Isolation. Simply put: if you don’t make noise, you won’t be able to see anything in front of you. Make too much noise, and you’ll die. Life isn’t fair in horror games.
There are a few other issues as well, namely the visuals and the game’s duration. Perception‘s focus on blindness results in a very unique graphical style, but I can’t help but feel that the echolocation visuals become severely repetitive after a while. It’s always pitch black, with everything always being blue (or green, if it’s relevant to the plot). Then again, the fact it gets repetitive after a while won’t be much of an issue given how short the game is, as you can beat it in about 3 and a half hours. As for other positives? Well, I guess I can point out that the game has excellent voice acting (despite the otherwise disappointing sound department), as well as the nice attention to detail for all the equipment your blind character uses, which includes assisting software in her cell phone, for instance. A nice touch, to be fair.
Perception is a very original game, I have to admit. It brings some new ideas to the table, and it does have some passable production value, but it ultimately falls flat due to some boring segments, annoying enemy sections and repetitive visuals (there’s just so much you can do to emulate a blind person trying to see). Despite the issues, it’s not a terrible game and it’s not being sold for a hefty price. If you’re a Switch owner looking for some horror games before the eventual release of the Resident Evil Revelations remasters, then Perception is the least terrible choice you can have.
Also available on: PS4, PC, Xbox One.