Growing up, my parents owned a video store. I was pretty much the luckiest kid on the block, able to pick out whatever movies I wanted, whenever I wanted, and didn’t even have to bring them back on time. Or rewind! Out of all the types of movies my parents had in the store, my favorite genre was horror. I loved them, couldn’t get enough of them, and even though I’d been through the entire rack ten times, there were certain movies I always went back to.
Horror with a great storyline was what drew me in. Sure, the blood-and-guts ones were okay, and jumping out of my skin every few minutes was a thrill, but the stories that stuck with me through adulthood were ones with immersive, layered narratives. Stories with characters you wanted to get to know better, and environments you wanted to explore all.
This was the kind of game we wanted to make when we started to conceive Perception. We didn’t care about making it the scariest story — no blood, no gore, no hordes of jump scares. We’ve seen innumerable games like that, and really craved something different. We wanted to make a very sophisticated ghost story set in a place with a deeply rooted past.
Like the Overlook hotel in “The Shining.”
What makes “The Shining” so terrifying is the anxiety each scene creates. Yes, there’s certainly the jump scares and the blood, but the most unsettling parts of the movie are built upon dread and discovering the history of the place. We wanted Echo Bluff to have a long history the way the Overlook did. And we wanted to capture that anxiety and dread of the sweeping generational saga.
We also wanted to create tension that keeps you guessing, keeps you moving forward. “The Thing” is another movie that really gets tension right, and another one where the setting is a place you want to explore more of. Trust is a huge issue in “The Thing” — who is your friend? Who is your foe? In Cassie’s world, there are only a few things she can trust… and after a little while at Echo Bluff, even those start to erode. We wanted to bring that feeling of paranoia, that ice-in-your-gut feeling when you know something’s off.
We also really love scrappy characters in horror. Ones that should never make it through the night, but by some ingenuity and often snark, they can do it. Cassie is that kind of heroine. Even though she’s blind, she doesn’t let that get in the way of solving not only the mysteries of the people who lived at Echo Bluff, but also her own sordid past.
In a way, we at the Deep End are scrappy like Cassie. Even though I have a AAA background having been the Lead Level Designer on BioShock and the Design Director on BioShock Infinite, we’re a scrappy team… because it’s mainly my wife and I creating Perception from our basement, after chasing around our four kids. If that’s not horror, I don’t know what is!
Anyway, if you’re looking for a different type of spooky experience, one with a deeply woven narrative and a house full of mysteries to unravel, you definitely need to check out Perception!