Publisher: SadSquare Studio | Developer: SadSquare Studio | Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed on PS5), PC, Xbox One
If you ever played the P.T. demo and loved it —for the short period it was available — Visage is what I would consider a spiritual successor. Navigating a house has never been so challenging and exhilarating while trying to trek through a dark abode filled with “The Conjuring” level of paranormal activity. I found myself working very quickly to balance my investigative skills unravelling the mysteries of the home and keeping my sanity to avoid a gruesome death at the hands of Lucy or her “friend” — aptly referred to as The Demon. When lights suddenly start to go out and doors slam shut, light switches and lighters are your best friend. Most of the time I was running back and forth desperately gathering as many items as I could and triggering events so I could progress while trying to learn the awkward layout of the house. But when the demon picks up on what you’ve been up to, you’re left in the dark and your only light sources become candles and flashes. So unless you’ve played detailed investigative games before, Visage will be a struggle. It is a game built for jump-scares and shadow figures appearing in between flashes of light, I’m not sure how much fear you want in your life but, for me, the entire time felt like a heart attack waiting to happen.
7.5/10 – Good
On the Cutting Room Floor…
Grab a Guide While You’re At It
For Visage, I chose to attempt a blind run, and after a brief cutscene I was thrown into the frey. I had no idea what my goal was for quite some time and was given nearly no direction. Nothing to guide me if I got lost — no maps, no hints. I had to decipher vague child drawings to get to new points finding that you can easily lock yourself into an unwinnable position. To be fair, the game gives warning when you’re about to start a new chapter, but I didn’t know where the first chapter started and ended so I ended up having to restart Visage from scratch at one point. The layout of the items will change depending on the chapter but I had no clear direction on this. If you find the storage room key items that you found and lost but needed to progress will appear there. After about an hour of running around with constant paranormal activity I said to myself; “Nah, I gotta look up a guide.” Trigger events are pretty far apart and unless you’ve played these types of survivor games before you’ll practically never find them in the order you need. With or without a guide though, you feel accomplished spotting notes on walls or that much needed lighter since your last one most likely ran out of oil.
The Devil is in the Details
Visage took great care in designing the layout of the game so that it is achievable but heart pounding the whole way. You can pick up dozens of items to inspect and open a significant number of doors and drawers as long as they’re unlocked. The environment feels lived in and haunted at the same time giving a deep sense of realistic immersion as you travel up and down creaky stairs and hallways finding nuggets of story and truth in nearly every interaction. The ambient sounds and music keep the already high anxiety at its peak and are the highlight of this game. You can hear the ghouls creeping ever closer causing your fight or flight instincts to kick in…just before you die.