PT di Hideo Kojima, started out to be a simple playable teaser of that Silent Hills which has never seen the light, since the day of its publication has inspired many indie developers for their works, effectively revolutionizing the horror landscape in the first person. It goes without saying that no one has managed to come close to the quality of Kojima's work, and very often these titles were more like mere carbon copies without a soul of PT than real full-blown games. Face care however, it is a notable exception to this rule. Developed by the small team SadSquare Studio of Montreal, Visage left theEarly Access last month and deserves to be taken seriously, because unlike all the "PT Clones" who have come before, this one immediately shows a great underlying ambition. Will Visage then be able to satisfy fans still mourning the untimely death of Silent Hills?
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
In Visage there is no room for pleasantries since its prologue, where we will witness a disturbing first-person scene in which a man kills what appears to be his family, then points the gun at himself and presses the trigger. At this point we will take the commands of a man named Dwayne Anderson, who lives alone in the same house where the aforementioned murders took place. Who we are? What truth is behind that macabre murder? And what other mysteries does this dark dwelling hide? Numerous people have been involved in disturbing incidents in this house and it will be up to us to discover their stories as we make our way through the adventure.
Visage is not a story with easy answers. Like any good mystery horror respecting oneself in fact, one can enjoy the experience both on a superficial level or by going to deepen - thanks to the myriad of clues present - the intricate narrative. If you are the kind of person who likes to speculate thanks to the elements that the narrative of a story offers, Visage is the right story for you, but if you are expecting a clear plot and a traditional and satisfying ending you could be greatly disappointed.
Like any good self-respecting mystery horror, Visage is not a story with easy answers.
In Visage there will be various gameplay elements taken directly from the great exponents of the genre, from classic survival-horror puzzles to a sanity system which induces hallucinations if a certain amount of disturbing events occur or if too much time is spent in the dark. The game control scheme, which allows you to hold items with both hands or in a small inventory, it requires some practice before you can get used to it. Specifically, objects such as a club or crowbar could cause some problems, which although they can be transported with one hand, will require both to be used. This, in most cases, translates into either having to place an object in the inventory or directly dropping one of the two objects to the ground if we run out of space. If it had been a title for a few minutes like PT this problem would not have been overly annoying, but since Visage can last the beauty of ten hours this could soon become frustrating.
The design of the puzzles is also fully taken up by PT, and also in this case the playful solution adopted creaks a lot. While in Kojima's work the solving of puzzles with "random attempts" worked, since the whole experience took place in a corridor, in the case of Visage the fact that the title is much wider makes this mechanic less effective. In fact, you will still find yourself doing very random things like knocking three times on a random wall to open a door in another part of the house, or you will be called to put a specific slipper on a bed to summon a ghost. Very often we will find ourselves stuck and the only ways to proceed will be two: either poke around the map randomly or consult a guide a couple of times.
Come play with us, Danny?
Whatever the criticism of the title so far regarding the gameplay, we must remember the fact that Visage is a horror game and it must be evaluated above all for its horror component. From this point of view, the title by SadSquare Studio it works fine. Although Visage may not be technically impressive, graphically the house that we will be called to explore looks incredibly real. This unnerving verisimilitude makes every noise and shadow more terrifying than it really should be. We warn you, Visage is not for the faint of heart or for those easily sensitive and impressionable, as jumpscare will always be around every corner and will have no mercy on you. And this applies to both newbies to the genre and veterans who live on bread and horror. Visage will always strike when you least expect it, even when you think you are safe. To make the atmosphere of the title so apt, we think above all the various explorable settings, from an abandoned hospital to a ghostly cemetery as well as vague twisted and gruesome worlds.
Visage has a particular chapter structure all of which are very different from each other: The first, titled "Lucy", is the most similar to PT, the second, "Dolores", is more focused on puzzles, the third, "Rakan", is much more survival horror seen the various encounters with the enemies that will go on, while the final chapter is a psychedelic journey through multiple worlds, one more disturbing than the other. Although this choice of dividing the title into four chapters so different from each other can make the experience not homogenous on the one hand, SadSquare must be acknowledged for having dared experimenting with many different ideas.
Visage is not for the faint of heart.
Visage is an irritating title at times. There are moments where we will be tempted to put the work aside and move on to something else due to some objective gameplay defects, without considering the numerous bugs and glitches, which will be your travel companions for the duration of the entire adventure. Having said that, it must be considered that the strong point of Visage is undoubtedly enclosed in its atmosphere. In the nearly ten hours we played Visage, we discovered a surprisingly fascinating and detailed world which will prompt many of you to further delve into the narrative to discover every clue and detail, all in order to make sense of the intricate story born by the SadSquare guys.