Visage is everything we had hoped we would have experienced with the canceled horror game, P.T (Silent Hills), and somehow, it lived up to our expectations in many ways, while chilling us to the bone as deeply as it could. Just how does it do it? Let’s take a dive into a review for Visage by developers SadSquare Studio.
+Absolutely stunningly creepy atmospheric designs
+Audio and visual designs are on-par with P.T., but even more immersive
+Constant use of visual shifts to provide a creepier experience
+Offers a generous nod to the Amnesia series and use of darkness
-Can be extremely hard to follow from time to time
For years, I’ve been one to say that someone would eventually come along, following in the steps of the once highly-anticipated Silent Hills title. Its playable trailer was as terrifying as its cancellation, leading some fans to become uneasy, unsure of what they were doing, and downright disturbed by what they saw. Its terror was hard to capture for many, some trying to swoop in on the chance to make the next big successor. Many failed too.
However, somewhere along the way, a small indie team by the name of SadSquare Studio came along, working quietly on a title that sought to reimagine those very elements, using scenery shifts, added elements, lighting, and even, psychological horror to the fullest of their ability to live up to the legacy PT had started. It does it well, almost too well, and makes us wonder just what PT could have been had Konami not canceled it shortly after their firing of Hideo Kojima.
In the wake of Silent Hills and the subsequent removal of PT from the PlayStation Store, we’ve been gifted successors like Visage, which honestly, manage to do things just right and deliver an experience unlike any other. Something we’ve not seen in times like this.
Visage is one of the creepiest, if not bone-chilling experiences, to date
Through four bone-chilling capters, you take on the role of Dwayne, a man trapped within a house that, well, isn’t quite what it seems. What we don’t know right away, Dwayne committed an unspeakable act, one we know little of when we begin our adventure through the game’s four well-written chapters. In each one, you will have to solve various clues that have been placed before you, each one leading to a various set of puzzles that must be solved in order to survive.
Much like Amnesia, players must maintain Dwayne’s sanity, guiding him through various challenges that will appear before him. The scenery is as equally as unsettling as one might think, making it challenging, thought-provoking, and as haunting as PT or Amnesia was. This is in part due to the fact that you will find that your scenery will shift about, changing to fit the story elements you will witness as you progress. Something you may remember seeing as you worked your way through PT and remains one of its most note-worthy elements.
Unlike any of the previous games being used to draw paralells in how Visage plays, the game doesn’t soften the blow when you begin, which begins Dwayne’s adventure of players being confronted by a rather graphic and troubling image of a murder-suicide and it just continues to go downhill from there.
Visage is as haunting as it is beautiful
To bring Visage to life, SadSquare Studio has gone above and beyond with its audiovisual designs, using both to its advantage. The sound effects are haunting, disturbing, and at times, downright perfect. You’ll hear subtle steps behind you, sometimes a book shifting, the giggles of a child, or items, such as lamps, being toyed with. Some of them, being made to downright spook you as they’ll come out of nowhere.
Just as its sound effects, the visual designs do just as much as you would hope. They’re unsettling and so perfectly designed. They’re almost photorealistic as you might think, giving you a way to dive deeper into the world than before. That includes the ability to ensure that things such as candles and lighters work in-game as they would in the real world.
This approach ensures that when you see something in the corner of your eye or a suspected shadow in the distance. The atmospheric designs are some of the best yet, delivering an experience we haven’t seen since PT or even Resident Evil VII, both of which delivered a horrifying experience that is never overdone, but rather, hits its stride just right.
As someone that is beyond hard to frighten, Visage is unsettling, extremely unsettling, which puts it far ahead of almost every-single-title to date. Both of Visage’s audio and visual designs are some of the best to date and its leagues ahead of anything else we could have expected. It’s just perfect and those atmospheric horror elements are absolutely unforgettable.
It’s a psychological horror experience unlike anything we’ve seen
When it comes to delivering an experience, one that remains worthwhile and noteworthy from beginning to end, you have to ensure that every element of the game matters. The most important of these is how the world itself works. You can hear the constant clinking of the rain on the windows, the sound of a radio down the hallway, the fuzzy hiss of the television and the soft beep of the telephone of the hook.
You’ll even find the soft chimes of the grandfather clock to help break the silence, offering some comfort in the darkness that continues to grow about you as some entity begins to switch off the lights, removing them with every chance it gets, casting larger shadows within the halls you once felt safe in. It reminds you that no matter where you go, the darkness is right there waiting, drawing closer with every soft crackle of a nearby candle.
Visage is absolutely excellent at ensuring that when it does overwhelm the senses, it does it in such a way that it’s almost a hard jolt to your system, which is perfect as it never does quite use over-the-top visuals or auditory feedback loops. Instead, it uses those in a steady build-up, preparing your system with slow, but intense adrenaline rushes.
Each story uses mental health as its focal point and does it better than you might think
Now, one thing you won’t be ready for, is how each chapter uses things such as dementia, schizophrenia, and paranoia to their fullest. The only chapter we will discuss in this review is Lucy’s, which uses the premise of a child’s demonic possession for its story-telling elements. Lucy’s story starts in 1961, where she began to interact with a Demon who wanted to be her friend.
Her story is told through exploration of the house, giving off hints at what happened to her, clear down to entering the upstairs office, which eventually, has shadows cast around it, leading to a depiction of a child with a shadowed entity behind her. As you explore the game, you find that Lucy’s mental state begins to deteriorate, leading her into a state of hopelessness, depression, and ultimately, that ultimately led to her death.
The game does eventually play on this, using elements of paranoia and schizophrenia to drive players into a frenzy as they play. This includes players needing to take sanity pills, growing overly reliant on candles or lighters to provide them with a source of light. It, unfortunately, does lead to an obscene amount of manual saving until you get your footing.
If you are trying to enjoy Visage through a streamer or a content creator, it’s not doing you justice. It’s a game that is horrific, it is troubling, and it ultimately will push your sanity to its limits once you dive into the deep in face first. It’s beautiful, it’s haunting, and it’s as equally as unique as PT was when it released. It’s unforgettable, to say the least.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation, and Xbox
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: SadSquare Studio
Publisher: SadSquare Studio
Release Date: Available Now
Where PT stood out from the rest, it was instantly noticeable how important it had come to the gaming community as well as the industry. Where Konami let their fans down, SadSquare Studio came up from a phoenix from the ashes, delivering one of the most amazingly designed horror titles to date that delivers a story that will haunt player s for hears to come.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.