A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Perception is a downloadable first-person adventure game. The player assumes the role of Cassie, a blind woman navigating a mansion through echolocation. While it's a horror game that relies on stealth and patience, there's no violence shown, as the screen fades to black. Players will hear gruesome sounds if they are caught by a ghost that haunts this house. There are also some implied sexual abuse against young girls that previously lived in the mansion, which you uncover through your exploration of the darkened halls.
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What's it about?
In PERCEPTION, you play as Cassie, a blind woman plagued by dreams about a mansion who finally sets out to find and explore the real thing. Inside, she uncovers evidence of a ghostly presence that's haunted the house across four different time periods. The more you explore, the more you're able to piece together what happened there, though you're frequently chased by the dangerous spirit. In the end, it's left up to you to decide what happened here and why.
Is it any good?
This adventure tries to be something different with a blind protagonist, but there's too many hiccups that ruin the atmospheric experience. Perhaps the most interesting part of Perception is that since you're blind, you navigate the world through sonar by tapping a cane -- the result of which is a ripple of silhouettes illuminating the darkness you'd see otherwise. Some might take issue with a handicap being exploited for a game mechanic, but there's no denying it being both unusual and a surefire way to ratchet up the suspense.
Ultimately, that's where Perception falls down: As a game intended to be tense and unpredictable, screwing up is both not really possible and at worst a minor inconvenience. When you get deeper into the game, the mansion's ghost will stalk you -- the more noise you make (which you have to do, in order to see and walk around), the more on your heels the ghost will be. You can hide only in certain locations, like closets, but even when you get caught, you're brought back to the foyer and pick up where you left off. On top of this, right out of the gate you have the ability to triangulate or "see" where you're supposed to go at any given moment via a sixth sense -- your next destination will glow and the camera will shift to point you in the right direction. The end result is, even though the game tries to disempower you as a blind person, you always know where to go and can keep plodding forward regardless of what happens. The rest in between is fairly mundane (poking around for items that have lock combinations written on them), essentially turning into a non-scary stroll through a dark house.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about video games and the handicapable. How do video games exclude people with physical disabilities?
What are ways you would like to be more empathetic? Why do you think these have been blind spots for you, and what have you learned about yourself in the instances where it created unintended frictions?
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