Developer: SadSquare Studio
Release Date: October 29, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: SadSquare Studio
Genre: Horror Adventure
Following the release of the Silent Hill demo known as PT, horror fans became hungry for dark supernatural puzzle-based adventures. The first-person elements can be seen in bigger titles, but little comes close to the sense of discovery that PT provided. Now, developer SadSquare Studio is trying their hand at the genre with the release of Visage. Inspired by PT, we get an experience that nails creativity by adding a few unique elements to the genre.
Visage is told over multiple chapters, each focusing on a different individual. The chapters themselves are pieces of a much larger narrative involving this house that you find yourself in. It’s not explicitly explained who you are or what you’re doing there, but that leaves room to figure it all out.
Interestingly, you can roam around the house as much as you want, but you will eventually hit a wall with progress. The game requires you to interact with specific objects that will trigger a chapter. These can be taken on in any order but ultimately allow you to progress the house’s story. After beginning a chapter, you’ll be locked in until you complete it providing subtle clues about what exactly is going on.
Visage is not an easy game that requires thinking outside the box in some cases and simply exhausting several options until you figure it out. Some chapters are easier to figure out than others, but they each have their moments. Their runtime revolves around how much time it takes you to piece together where to go or what to do, but after you figure it out, it’s possible to get through them in an hour each.
However, don’t let the fact that the game requires you to be perceptive have you wasting time picking up mindless objects looking for clues. Most of the hints are right in front of you, and if you aren’t progressing, you’re probably going the wrong way. It’s this way through every chapter, and most of the time, you’ll roll your eyes wondering why it took you so long to figure something out.
This frustration of progression is not at the fault of the game either. Although there are ways to go in the wrong direction, there are subtle clues about what to do. One thing that helped me was exploring the house as much as possible and doing my best to memorize the many different rooms. This way, when I began a chapter, I could see if anything changed and know that that is probably what I need to interact with to move it along.
Exploration mostly takes place in the house, but there are other environments as well. While the house is enormous on its own, there are other locations that you’ll find yourself in across the chapters. These can be just a big, but there’s not always a ton to do, creating a sense of unused space. Where PT stood out is how it did so much with such little space. In Visage, there some unused potential in some of the environments that had me feeling like some of the confusion was purely based on the maze-like structure of the environments.
Aside from these exploration puzzles, Visage is a horror game and a master at making you feel uncomfortable. As chilling as each chapter, the game relies more on atmosphere to deliver its scares. Sure, you’re going to be chased and maybe even killed, but I felt that being afraid to turn certain corners when nothing was there proved how scary this adventure is.
There’s a sanity meter that increases while you are in the dark or when something supernatural happens to enhance the thrills. It slowly goes back to normal in the light, but the higher it is, the spookier the experience becomes. As your mental state deteriorates, the music enhances, and the suspense that maybe something is following you sets it.
It’s a great system that sadly isn’t as punishing as it should have been. There are items that you can collect, such as pills, lighters, and candles. Surprisingly, even with a few mistakes and hours of being lost, I never had to use the pills, removing sanity. Also, the candles had their uses in certain chapters, but turning on the lights works just as well. I did use the lighters for much of the game, but I wouldn’t mind struggling with the sanity a bit more if only to put an artificial timer on progress.
Visage sets up some well-detailed areas to explore, but I couldn’t really get past my character’s invisible body. Not having a shadow just threw me off from time to time. Also, given that you explore every inch of this house, you’ll notice instances of copied and pasted objects to fill up space. Navigating is alose a little wonky at times as doors swing awkwardly, and your sanity will rise just be standing in a dark corner of a well-lit room. However, these don’t really hinder the overall experience.
It hurts immersion sometimes, but then you’ll find yourself in a room where the developers seem to have put a lot of time crafting a story within the design. These moments definitely make up for reused assets. Still, item interaction can be wonky sometimes as it takes place in the environment, so objects will clip through walls as you move them around.
Sound design is great as most of the surreal moments are complemented by intense lighting and music. It all works well for the tone of the game and gets better with the voiced audio. There are also various collectibles to acquire as you chase the true ending, which gives you a reason to look through every cupboard.
Visage requires patience as you progress through some truly horrific chapters, rewarded with even more nightmares as you encounter many supernatural elements. There are some beautiful environments to investigate, but the reused assets and unused space only hurt this game’s immersion. In many ways, this works as an adventure inspired by PT, but it’s defining elements are found in its unique features.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.