So we all remember P.T right? Well strap your big boy balls on, because Visage just took it to a new level.
Visage, French for face I believe – Eoast me if I’m wrong, I don’t care… But you can’t deny that Visage is P.T on steroids of an otherworldly sort. It’s like the Conjuring, only you’re living it yourself, rather than watching it on a TV. It’s a masterpiece of sheer, skin crawling, nope inducing, shriek uttering, heart pounding horror. But what is Visage exactly?
Well, let’s step back a bit. Visage is currently an early access ongoing project, currently with two chapters available – the second having released earlier this year – and is an insanely photorealistic game in terms of graphics, lighting and animation. Half the time I was unable to tell if what I was looking at was real or a videogame. The opening to the game sets the tone, taking the point of view of a clearly inebriated man, sat in a dark room, loading bullets slowly into a rather large gun… Whilst you can clearly see a woman tied to a chair out of the corner of your eye. Once he’s done loading the gun, he stands up and proceeds to shoot his wife, son, and young daughter, in the head, before blowing his own brains out.
Bang, cut to black, big bold letters, VISAGE. That’s your official welcome to the game. That’s the greeting you get, the cold open as it were. From there, you wake up in an empty, tiled room, and as you proceed to peel yourself off the floor, it sounds viscerally as if half your bones are broken and someone has glued you to the floor with craft paste. Now it’s up to you to explore what is only describable as a mansion of a house. It’s night time, it’s dark, and half the house is locked or under renovation. Lights don’t work, the house is a labyrinth of stairs and hallways. Gaudy couches, vintage lamps, and a bathroom overflowing with various pill bottles. This house is simultaneously your prison and your game landscape.
The objective is to collect three items, each one pertaining to three people, assumedly family members of some sort, or people who lived in the house prior. Chapter one is all about a little girl, and goes through your standard paranormal horror flicks clichés. Lights fluttering, doors creaking open, shadows down long halls, children’s drawing on the walls… A demonic presence knocking on the damn bedroom wall! Said little girl also stalks about sometimes to give you a good scare, second to none only to that lady from P.T but ten times worse, because… Well… She’s a little possessed girl. No thank you.
As you progress through her story, you get drawn into flashbacks and otherworldly pocket dimensions, filled with pulse poundingly amazing sound design. You don’t get any flashlight either, just a lighter, some candles and the flash of an expensive looking camera… Which, if I may pause for a bit, is a mechanic I have not seen since Cry of Fear. It works wonderfully well, given how dark some areas of the house are. It sets you on edge and keeps you on your toes constantly, and the second chapter does well to make itself distinct from the first.
Playing up the supernatural overtone with mirrors placed all around, leading to various environments with self-contained puzzles and rules; every door you open, every room you enter, it’s something new. Progress makes you tense up because it means something new, something unfamiliar. It’s amazing at instilling that lingering sense of paranoia that just buzzes around your head like a fly. The house is excruciatingly detailed, sound design is subtle and well crafted. There are no swells of orchestra whenever a door slams. No violin flutters when a light goes out. In fact, there’s zero ambient music at all, which only makes things all the more unsettling. You stumble around the corner, flash your camera down a dark hall and, there it is, naked grandma or little possessed nightmare girl, or Mr ‘hey hold this knife for me’. They’re just there. No dramatic music, just you, a dark hallway, and the faint sound of rain. It’s as we like to say, a hallway of nope.
It’s a masterfully crafted game that is well worth the looksee, and it’s only in alpha! With one more chapter at the least to go, and a good amount of polish, Visage is not something you want to miss. There’s even plans to have it ported to VR! That being said I must address the inventory system. It needs work; it’s clunky, and difficult to use efficiently or quickly. Some things are also not explained well, such as the use of candles, but I hope that will be quickly fixed with the release of the next chapter.
Being developed by SadSquare Studio, with writing being done by Victoria Suchanek, and sound design by Jonathan Wachoru, this 2018 release is more than deserving of a 10/10 in my opinion.