They say that sound makes up 90% of the scares of a good horror experience. The atmosphere, the music, the things that you can hear breathing when you look away—if the soundtrack to a #Horror game is good enough, it feels like you don't even need to see what's on screen to be terrified.
Where 'Perception' Is Going, You Won't Need Eyes To See
The new #Indie horror title by former Bioshock developer Bill Gardner is taking that idea to the extreme. You play as a young, sassy artist named Cassie, who travels to New England to investigate a supposedly cursed mansion that's haunted her dreams. It's a fairly standard plot in the genre of haunted house #horror, but what sets Perception apart from other #VideoGames isn't what our heroine sees in the mansion, it's what she doesn't.
Cassie is blind, and the only way she can find her way around the estate at Echo Bluff is through her sense of hearing, displayed in-game as a sort of beautiful, eerie echolocation. To 'see' anything as you make your way around, you'll need noise, either ambient or made with your own walking cane. It's a pretty amazing way to set up the spooks.
Not Alone In This Dark
Of course, it wouldn't be a good horror game if there wasn't something waiting in the dark for you and listening to every noise you make. The house on Echo Bluff is haunted by a terrifying wraith-like creature called 'The Presence', who tracks you throughout the game. When it comes to how The Presence behaves, Gardner seems to have taken a lot of inspiration from Alien: Isolation. Your nemesis is unstoppable, intelligent and learns your habits as the deadly game of hide-and-seek continues.
To make matters worse, The Presence seems to hunt mostly through sound, which leaves you with the terrifying choice of fumbling your way around in the dark or making a sound to see and attracting its attention. Hiding under a bed suddenly becomes even more frightening when you can't even tell if your enemy is getting closer without giving away your position.
Echoes Of The Past
Like Layers of Fear before it, Perception is taking an approach to time and space that echoes the terrifying cult hit book House of Leaves. Every puzzle solved and mystery uncovered changes the environment around you. Rooms alter, hallways twist and turn and closets open onto repressed memories of the past.
It'd be bad enough normally, but without sight, you might be confronted with the situation of fleeing blindly from an enemy only to find that the door you knew was there before has moved. Suddenly the only means of locating an escape route is to make noise and let the monster know just where you are.
Making Fear Accessible
Gardner and his studio The Deep End also have a noble goal for Perception. Not just content with making a horror game about a blind character, they want to make a horror game that can be accessible to the blind as well. It can be hard to game with a visual disability, especially when it's severe. So giving blind gamers a game that doesn't just represent them, but is made with them in mind would be a pretty great thing.
"We’re a small company but that's definitely high on the list of things I would love to be able to tackle.”
It remains to be seen whether they'll succeed at the task of adapting the game for severely visually impaired audiences on a small, Kickstarter based budget. But if they do, they'll certainly be showing up certain big studios who treat things as basic as the existence of women as a monumental task to put in games.
Are you excited for Perception? Do you think studios should make more effort to make games accessible? Let us know in the comments!