Yandros finished what William the Taffer started in this sequel to 2002’s classic contest FM Deceptive Perception. That little horror mission is one of the best, and the lengthier Deceptive Perception 2: Phantasmagoria is also great.
Unlike other horror FMs such as The Inverted Manse or Rose Cottage, Deceptive Perception 2 proceeds chapter-by-chapter linearly. It’s a tall tale told at a bar, Garrett narrating the story to his pal Willick. This bar room conversation is the framework of the mission. It develops the feel of a television show on a late Saturday afternoon, part of a series of Spooky Tales from Beyond or some such program, contrasting with Rose Cottage’s 1960s black-and-white haunted house movie vibe.
Garrett’s yarn begins with him in an abandoned, haunted Mechanist warehouse. Falling for a rumor of a valuable artifact hidden there, told him by his guard friend Barney, Garrett climbed up into the warehouse on a stroll one night, on impulse, with nothing but a rope arrow. Rope arrow broken, and no way to get out save the high windows up above, Garrett is in a pickle.
The first part is straight Deceptive Perception. You’re in a haunted Mechanist warehouse, and freaky things happen. It’s all done really well and is great on its own and as a homage to the original. I also like seeing horror done using Mechanist trappings. There’s potential for Mechanists to be as scary as any other group in the Thief universe, but not many authors explore it.
After this first part, the mission becomes its own experience, though it’s definitely Deceptive Perception-y.
You encounter the apparition of a woman dressed in white who leads you on with a couple keys and through a maze of stacked boxes. A nice technique was done here with a painting. The ghost lady stepped from the Thief II painting of a woman dressed in white, and after she finished speaking with you, and you walk towards the painting, the woman-in-white portion vanished. Another trick with paintings is done later in the mission: there’s a lively interchange between Keira Knightley and a stock Thief II Renaissance man.
After dodging some Mechanist Haunts and escaping the woman-in-white, you encounter your friend Barney in an office area of the warehouse. There are more clever jump scares here, and a grim experience with Barney and the ghostly woman. Moving on from that, you get some keys and eventually unlock a sewer door taking you down into the next part of the mission. At this point the game cuts back to the bar room conversation – Garrett’s friend has started to question the progressively weirder story.
Down in the sewers, you’ve got a rickety-bridge-over-big-pit gag (not a rare scare, but it works – I ran and squealed) and an underground temple. Here the scares are dropped for straight stealth. You help a group of forsaken Keepers combat demons who have them trapped. In doing so, you must find a couple gem stones, a mild break in the momentum. This part is close to padding, and you have to come uncomfortably close to a creepily textured spider, but soon enough you’re back on your way.
The next and final section of the mission starts with a return to the sewers, where you encounter a baby crayman-esque beast, and a guard – sewer worker? – composing his latest masterpiece.*
You then come up into a hospital with a few horrifying apparitions, and are introduced to the villain: Dr. Lang. Read his journal to learn of his sick practice; it will remind you of the original Amnesia, if you’ve played that. There’s also a Viktrola with a Sly Foxx-narrated bit of the doctor beginning with one of his unfortunate victims. This hospital area is a sudden dark swing, standing out from even the rest of this creepy mission.
You’ll be trapped by this Dr. Lang in cold storage. Once you’ve found a way out, the game cuts again to the bar-room conversation. Willick is finding your story too fantastic to believe. After a little more story, the game cuts to the bar again with Garrett telling Willick that the rest will have to wait until the next night. Garrett and Willick depart, and Garrett heads out to a thrilling conclusion of the night’s tale.
The chapter-by-chapter, linear progression of Deceptive Perception 2 makes it a unique FM experience, and you’ll enjoy this creepy ride and will likely revisit it each year at Halloween. Just be ready to jump and be freaked out – a lot. The stat screen kindly tracks this for you.
*He meets a grim, unexplained fate, though not in New Dark. At least, that’s my assumption: only in my post-New Dark playthroughs has he been standing up, happy as a lark, even after he screams from the distance.