PERCEPTION, a new first-person horror game by The Deep End Games, puts players into the role of Cassie; a blind woman who must navigate a haunted estate on Echo Bluff.
In order to find her way around, however, Cassie must make noise to enable an echolocation sense (much like one of our favorite red-clad superheroes). However, every bit of noise she makes will draw the attention of the entity which haunts the area – a preternatural entity known only as “The Presence”, which is bent on destroying Cassie. The game will force players to play hide & seek in that unknown space between total darkness, and ultimate death.
The story is told in part through time travel experiences. Cassie’s adventures in Echo Bluff will take her through the past, in order to discover ancient & hidden secrets, as well as powerful hexes from the frightful & deep history of the area. No matter where you explore, however, there is always the threat of The Presence. It manifests as a cowled figure, roaming around the house to hunt the player down. It’s swarmed in moths, so the player will be able to hear the flapping of wings, and the entity’s raspy, heavy breathing. However, The Presence will also be able to hear the telltale tapping of Cassie’s cane…so beware.
The game’s creator, Bill Gardner, is no stranger to creepy & claustrophobic experiences. Gardner worked for 12 years at Irrational Games, and is known as one of the designers of the Bioshock series. When asked about how PERCEPTION compared to the rest of his resume, Gardner stated, “I’m hugely proud of the Bioshock series, but when I was working on it, there was always some small regret…you were hugely powered in that game. You had all these plasmids & weapons – rocket launchers and that sort of thing, and that’s always going to take away from the fear& the tension. Even if it’s a Big Daddy, you’re like, ‘I have an arsenal. I’m a tank, so whatever.”
In PERCEPTION, this is far from true. This is an experience which is definitely not meant for fans of the “kill everything in the room” power trip. As the protagonist, Cassie is essentially powerless. Bill Gardner has said that there are no guns, no bombs…no way of attacking anything. You’re just a sightless girl in a haunted estate, being chased by some otherworldly menace. Gardner went on to say about the genre, “Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear. In horror, you’re always trying to veil information. Information is the enemy of horror.”
It’s that kind of oddball, narrowly-focused indie game which may not have even come to fruition if not for the magic of Kickstarter. The entirety of the game’s budget came from a successful campaign on the popular crowdfunding website. This allowed the development team to focus on catering to horror game fans, rather than trying to please corporate big-wigs at a larger publisher. Gardner summed this up by saying, “Nothing against business folk or publishers, but they’re not going to be the ones that drive the innovation; that’s not their job. Their job is to remain profitable.” Even though PERCEPTION was produced outside the “normal route” of game creation & funding, Gardner and his team are still shooting for a AAA level of sense of place & detail in their game.
While Gardner and his team aren’t really sure of a solid release date for PERCEPTION yet, they are hoping for a 2017 spot. “I don’t want to rush anything. I want to make sure it’s the best game possible when it comes out,” Gardner said. The game is currently slated for a PC release, although the team at The Deep End Games is not ruling out PS4 or Xbox One versions. Gamers can pre-order the PC version on the Kickstarter page.