Roll for Perception. Now terror.

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Perception, from The Deep End Games. Creepy house, check. Dark presence, check. Eldritch mysteries to be solved, check. Blind protagonist, ch- wait, what?

I think you’ll agree that blindness in a video game is quite trivial to do. No graphics, job done. Blindness in a video game that can actually be played, not so simple. But that’s what The Deep End Games, made up of Dead Space and BioShock veterans, are trying to do with Perception, and my it sounds good. It looks good too, which is quite some devilry in a game you play blind.

You play as Cass exploring her new home, Echo Bluff which is every bit as haunted as you’d expect. In the trailer even Cass doesn’t seem particularly surprised by the presence of a Dark Presence in the dark.

Did I mention the trailer? It’s a bit special.

Perception isn’t the first game to use the sound = vision mechanic, though it’s the only first person 3D one I’ve seen and it does look good. It might be better if the visuals weren’t so crisp – at the moment it looks like high-fidelity vision constrained to areas where sound happens. It’s likely this is the only way the game would be playable by anything resembling a broad audience, but it feels like it lessens the impact of the core mechanic. I’d love a game where the general sounds of movement gave only the vaguest outline of your surroundings, with more deliberate – and therefore risky – sounds, even touch, required for a more detailed, up-close examination.

That way you have moments of “What is that? A hatstand? A… No… Oh god, no…” Instead we have what we see in the trailer, there’s a noise across the room, and it’s immediately obvious that spooky doom is coming. If I’m playing a blind character I’d rather be terrified by what I hear in the night that what I can see mostly clearly on the screen. Even so, that’s probably wishful thinking and there’s no denying that The Deep End are on to something very, very interesting here.

At the time of writing the Kickstarter has just under a month to raise $150,000. I’ll be backing it, and I hope anyone interested in a new take on survival horror will join me.

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