I was milling around a videogames conference two weeks ago (Kill Screen’s Two5Six, holla!), and a friend kept saying he “kicked that” whenever one or another game came up as a topic of conversation. It took me far too long to figure out that he meant he backed the project on Kickstarter—I kept thinking, is that the new hip word for “play” or “beat” these days?—but once I finally got it, I found it to be a delightful turn of phrase. Thus, like many old people, I’ve decided to awkwardly appropriate it. Welcome to the inaugural post of the ongoing “Kicked It” column!
Today I’m focusing on Perception, whose Kickstarter launched yesterday.
In the days leading up to conference, I got an email from Bill Gardner, formerly of Irrational and the Design Director of BioShock Infinite, among other things. He thought Perception would be a great fit for Videodame, and I wholeheartedly agree!
From the Perception press release:
Perception is a first person narrative horror adventure that puts players in the shoes of a blind woman who must use her extraordinary hearing and razor-sharp wits to solve mysteries and escape a deadly presence, all without sight. Crafted by a team of veteran PC and console developers (BioShock, BioShock Infinite, Dead Space), Perception offers a bold and fresh take on first person narrative games.
After months of research seeking the house from her nightmares, Cassie discovers an abandoned mansion in Gloucester MA, the Estate at Echo Bluff. Once there, Cassie finds that Echo Bluff is worse than she dreamed. A ghastly Presence has tormented its inhabitants over generations, and it now hunts Cassie. She must solve the estate’s mysteries or become one of its victims.
While Cassie doesn’t have an arsenal of weapons, she does have her wit, her cane and her smart phone. Armed with these tools, she’ll search for clues to unravel history as she navigates her way through the home via echolocation. But the house and its deadly Presence go to great lengths to prevent her from deciphering its secrets. And yet, they won’t let her leave either.
Surviving this deadly game of cat and mouse with the Presence proves especially perilous when your only way of seeing is by means of sound, and so you must carefully weigh the risk of making too much noise against the possibility of being discovered by the terrifying Presence. Once spotted, your only hope is to run, hide, and pray that it doesn’t find you. Cassie uses ambient sounds of the house as well, such as taking advantage of when the grandfather clock rings, or when a loud pipe whistles. She can throw objects and use items like alarms to create “sound bombs” to distract her enemies.
Cassie uses her smartphone to examine evidence left behind. And as she puts the pieces together, she’ll find herself jumping back in time.
Perception takes place over many different eras. You get to see the house retreat back to its origins and witness how it evolved over time. Through the decades and across generations, the house and its inhabitants change significantly. Architecture and décor evolve, entire wings and buildings come and go and alter your relationship with the space. Once you’ve discovered the source of evil in each generation, it’s your job to right the wrong.
A blind, female protagonist who’s particularly sensitive to sound? Shades of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem? ECHOLOCATION? Sign this former sound designer/videodame up! I’m also glad to see some ladies on the design team (see all the highly-credentialed people over at the Kickstarter page), including writer and producer Amanda Gardner. Desiree Fernandes’ (art) bio also resulted in some genuine lol’ing, since she says she probably won’t play Perception since “she loves horror games but is too easily scared to play them.” THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, DESIREE.
But don’t worry, everyone at freshman game development studio The Deep End Games, I’ll definitely play your game, no matter how atmospheric and scary it ends up being. I kicked it!