In Perception, sound is both your lifeline and your downfall.
Perception is a Kickstarter-funded, first-person horror game from The Deep End Games, a studio made up of developers who worked on BioShock and Dead Space. The game follows a blind woman named Cassie as she explores a house with a confusing relationship to time and space; throughout the game's story, Cassie will find herself in different time periods and places.
Cassie may be blind, but she possess the the unique talent of echolocation, which allows her to "see" the environment around her. Sounds throughout the world provide a shaky blue light to walk by. Cassie taps, and the area around her lights up.
Using that power comes with a cost. Early in my demo of Perception, I sent out a frenzy of clicks. I was playing with the mechanic, getting an idea of how it felt and how effective it could be at lighting my way. As I clicked without care, the house around me began to shift and shake. Out of the darkness emerged a dark, hooded figure The Deep End Games refers to as "the Presence." It promptly killed me.
The Presence will seek out sound, but its appearance does not always mean death, according to creative director Bill Gardner. There are no weapons in Perception; fighting isn't the point. Instead, players can run, hide or distract the entity to draw off its deadly grasp.
"There's a lot of inspiration from all over the map," Gardner said, "but you think about a movie where the character sees the big, bad nasty velociraptor or whatever creeping by, and you tap something or you throw something. It's very much a game of hide-and-seek, cat-and-mouse."
Certain areas of the house will prove to be more prone to noise, Gardner told Polygon. In one example, he talked about a room filled with bubblewrap, where players must be conscious of where they're stepping and what they're popping. As I explored the house in my demo, I found that certain areas provided a lot of background noise in the form of radios or very creepy talking dolls. Gardner said the goal is to make players be aware of the spaces they're in.
"It's really about carefully weighing the risk and reward of creating noise," he said, "and then when [the Presence] gets near, trying to use the environment to get the hell away."