BioShock Veterans Working on Horror Game Where You Play as a Blind Woman

"Perception" is scheduled to launch in 2016 for PC--and possibly Xbox One and PlayStation 4.


A team of former BioShock developers impacted by the Irrational Games closure have assembled to create Deep End Games, a new Boston-based indie developer that today announced its first project, a horror game called Perception. Though it's early days, the game certainly looks and sounds exciting.

Perception sees you playing as a blind woman--Cassie Thornton, aged 29--who must make her way through a mansion called Echo Bluff in Gloucester, Mass. occupied by a force known as the "presence." (Creepily enough, the "presence" is constantly surrounded by moths; it's schizophrenic; sometimes it sounds like man, other times a woman; it's always searching for you). Her only physical tools are her walking stick and a smartphone, and also her hearing. Every tap of the walking stick or sound creates a visualization that illuminates the world around you.

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"You don't have shotguns and magic powers and all that," project lead Bill Gardner told GameSpot. Gardner worked at Irrational for more than a decade, recently serving as design director for BioShock Infinite.

"All you can do when it's coming for you is run and hide; hop in a closet, get under the bed or the couch," he says. "And hope, pray that it just passes you by. The tension here is that you see through sound. So you have to very carefully weigh whether or not you should throw that vase down the hall to see what's down there because you could attract the presence."

Overall, the game aims to capture a cat-and-mouse/hide-and-seek feeling, not unlike Alien: Isolation. Check out the video below to see how it works.

The game plays out across a series of chapters from different eras, each of which explaining what terrible things happened at the mansion. Once these are completed, players travel back in time--and the mansion completely changes form, from its geometry to the people and spirits dwelling inside it. Gardner describes Perception as a narrative-driven game overall.

"She's been haunted by these visions of this mansion; every night she has nightmares," Gardner says. "She knows it's a real place. For months and months she's been trying to find where it is and what it all means. And so she ends up finding it one day and jumps on the first plane she can find; flies across country, and arrives right before this storm of the century, this blizzard. So she winds up being snowed in and has to rely on her echo-location and her wit to escape this presence."

The team at Deep End Games is made up of industry veterans who have worked on big-name franchises such as BioShock, Dead Space, and Rock Band. Leading the group is Gardner, while also on the team is Robb Waters, who designed BioShock's famous Big Daddy characters. Although Deep End Games certainly has ties to BioShock, Gardner explains that Perception won't exactly match the formula of that shooter series.

"Most of your time is spent shooting things and changing out weapons at gene banks," Gardner says of BioShock. "And that's fine; obviously I'm proud of the game. But then you look at Gone Home, on the other hand, and it's almost entirely spent interacting with the narrative, which is also great. So what we have with Perception, there's a bit more of a mix. Between the game of hide-and-seek you play with the presence and using your smartphone and all the different mechanics to unravel the mystery."

Deep End Games has funded Presence up until this point out-of-pocket, but that changes today with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for the project. The team is looking for $150,000 to make the project a reality. Should the Kickstarter campaign fall short, Deep End Games plans to pursue other funding options.

Perception is due to launch in 2016 for PC, with stretch goals for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Other stretch goals include a "GTFO" mode with randomized mansion levels and another for virtual reality support ($350,000), including Oculus Rift and possibly Morpheus. Pledging at least $20 gets you a copy of the game. Head to the Perception Kickstarter page to get all the details.

"That's exactly the kind of thing I'm interested in--opening people up to entirely different world experiences and different perspectives," Gardner says about Perception.

Other teams rising out of the ashes of Irrational include The Molasses Flood (The Flame in the Flood) and Otherside Entertainment (Underworld: Ascendant). It hasn't all been success stories, however. A third studio to emerge from the Irrational closure, Day For Night Games, recently announced that its game, The Black Glove, had been shelved indefinitely.

For a closer look at Perception, which runs on the latest version of Epic's Unreal Engine, check out some images in the gallery below.

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