[Review] Visage (2018)
Visage – Wander through the halls, explore each room and every corner of the house in search of an escape route. Uncertainty will keep you on your toes as you explore the creaky and noisy house, while each crack, each silent breath from a window, and each small event will drag you closer to death. Fear is your worst enemy; dark entities are attracted to it. Remain calm and escape terror at all costs, or you’ll come to realize the distant moanings coming from deeper in the house aren’t so distant after all. Many terrible things happened in this house.
Brutality and violence stain every room, telling stories of a dark past, revealing the truth behind the curtain. A truth so disturbing you wish you could join the families that died here years ago. But even death won’t help you leave this dreadful place. What would you become if you couldn’t even recognize yourself in the mirror? Each death has its visage. How will you face them?
Visage is an independent survival horror game developed and published by SadSquare Studio. It was designed to be a spiritual successor to P.T. The game takes place in a secluded town during the 1980s. The house you are in has literally existed for centuries, yet its foundation never seems to decay. Many, many families have lived in this dark mansion, numerous members of those families have brutally died there, while others lived their lives peacefully in their beautiful and beloved home.
Is there something that dwells there that is responsible for all these imminent deaths, or is it pure coincidence? This is what you, the player will learn as you relive the house’s horrific history, including the memories of so many of the people who have lived and died there.
In this game, you will not only be shown, but you will also get to relive fragments of the victim’s histories that will send chills down your spine. All of the fragments will drag you closer to what’s behind the dark history of this place. You will witness, firsthand, how people died in this horrible house. Each death has its visage. Will you dare look into its eyes? As you uncover the truth, you’ll soon learn that something doesn’t want you to. You will follow exactly how each of them died and what the mystery is behind this horror house that never crumbles.
The game programmer, Jonathan Gagné, told IGN: “You’ll have to venture into the rooms, in search of clues as to what happened and what’s going to happen. You’ll find fragments of stories all around the house, and it will be up to you to uncover the story or find means to escape. Also, it’s psychological horror, your (protagonist’s) mind will play tricks on you, just like the nightmares in Phantasmagoria.”
I’m not going to give a lot of the actual game details in this review because that would just give way too much away to the readers since the game revolves around uncovering the story within. That being said, Visage starts off by showing a cut-scene of a revolver and a few bullets scattered closely around a table. A man reaches over and picks up the revolver then proceeds to ever-so-slowly load the bullets into it.
During the close up of this act, you can vaguely make out a woman in front of him tied to a chair. The room is very dark but there’s enough light to see that she isn’t alone. As the camera pans around you witness two other people who are also tied to their chairs. Once the man loads the gun, he slowly raises it toward the head of one of them and…well, let’s just say it’s pretty brutal.
There are absolutely no clues given to the circumstances that brought about this event, but you are already deeply thrown into its creepiness factor. The next thing you know, you’re standing all alone in a room with a small door. The door is the threshold to an enormous dwelling, with the insides similar to that of a maze. From this point on, the very second you walk through that door, you become fully unnerved and completely on edge.
It was during this part when I first realized that this game was going to be very awesome indeed. By the way, dying is a big part of this game so get used to it. Just thought I’d throw that out there. You’re also trying hard to maintain your sanity as much as possible in order to keep you from joining the ranks of the dead. Pst…go to the light. And that’s all I’m saying about that.
Visage is beyond great at building tension, especially when you become aware that you are quite vulnerable in this very dark and sinister house. You have no weapons to save yourself from any of the horrific apparitions that follow you through every room you enter. You will frantically need to find key elements within each room, interact with the environment of the enormous mansion, and search for things that could assist you in possibly escaping this terrifying nightmare before it gets a solid hold on you and pulls you in deeper.
You wholly feel like the countless number of victims who died in the house are all reaching out to you as you begin to feel them following and observing every movement you make. They also like to play head-games with your mind, and as they attack you, you soon learn that you must avoid fear at all costs because they seem to be drawn to it. Go figure, huh?
Just like within the games Amnesia and P.T. (the Silent Hill demo) there doesn’t appear to be any sort of combat involved, and the ever-present modern house aesthetic appears to be reminiscent of Hideo Kojima’s aborted horror game project (P.T.). The game actually reminded me of “Layers of Fear” as well. The atmosphere was so intense, it felt like it was seeping into my skin. Let me assure you that this game is scary as hell. Needless to say, I ended up needing to take several long breaks just to clear my head and shake off the feeling of dread that I found to be very overpowering.
Since I feel that music plays a significant role in horror games by creating and building the overall mood, a meaningful soundtrack is vital, as the music and ambient soundscapes help create the uneasy atmosphere that horror games need. So what can you expect from this soundtrack? Near perfection of course. Visage has a very memorable and haunting soundtrack given to it, one that fits perfectly. Its dark mysterious arrangement is hugely ominous and different.
And what about the jump-scare tactics? Yeah, they’re in here, but they’re not simply tossed in carelessly or solely to make you jump. They are placed strategically and used in the best possible ways, so everyone should be able to appreciate that. The graphics are absolutely unbelievable and beautifully done, which isn’t really a big surprise considering the game was created on the Unreal 4 engine!
I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed Visage and I’m looking forward to playing the entire game once it’s completed. There are still some fine-tuning that needs to be worked out because the story is really confusing on some points such as 2-3 different stories being mixed into one…it was just a little out of whack. I think, from the trailers I saw that there are supposed to be like 3 separate stories that would get connected, but it’s not actually doing that, or at least not for me it isn’t.
There are also many features and aspects that are yet unavailable, doors that don’t open and things of that nature, but as I said, it is early access so it’s not supposed to be perfect just yet…although it’s pretty damn close. All that being said, and even though it’s an early access game, I would still highly recommend Visage as it is, it’s just that good. Oh, I’d also be interested in knowing if anyone has found the Easter Egg!
About the Game:
- Visage is the first horror game in which most of the events are randomly activated throughout the game. Each play-through will be greatly different.
- The choices you make will lead to different endings.
- Virtual Reality is now supported.
- You’ll be immersed in a cutting-edge 3D environment, thanks to Unreal Engine 4.
- It is available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Genre: Adventure, Survival Horror
Release Date: October 2, 2018 (early access)
Developer: SadSquare Studio
Game Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Mode(s): Single Player
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
Our Rating: 4.6 /5
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