If you’re any sort of horror fan worth your salt, you’ve most likely seen the Kojima Production’s PT (playable teaser) horror extravaganza. PT functioned as a short demo for the now-cancelled Silent Hills game that horror junkies around the world had been desperately anticipating (including me).
After that game was cancelled, I, for one, was thirsting for a game that could hit the right horror notes that PT successfully did. Although there were a couple of decent horror games that have been released over the past few years (such as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard & Outlast 2), none of them captured the same degree of super-creepy, supernatural terror that PT exhibited.
Fortunately, indie developer SadSquare Studios is now developing a first-person, psychological horror game called Visage that seems to be quite on par with PT, and in some cases even surpasses it. Visage begins strongly, with your character witnessing (or perpetrating) a series of murders (in a first-person perspective) within an 80s-style suburban home, before turning his gun on himself and finishing the job.
Mush like in PT, the protagonist then wakes up in a cramped room within the home, and has to figure out from there what the hell is going on. Visage isn’t hand-holdy at all, and it’s up to you to piece together the various clues you come across, in order to uncover what happened to the murdered families that once dwelt within the haunted house.
As I navigated through the dark hallways and rooms of the house, I was immediately struck at how lived-in the place looked. The game’s visuals are obviously something that SadSquare didn’t skimp on, and everything looks so photorealistic that it really enhanced the game’s sense of immersion. From wrinkled table cloths and disheveled clothes, to crumpled beer cans—Visage definitely has it going on in the atmosphere department.
Visage also doesn’t waste any time revealing its sanity system. Much like with the horror classic, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, if your character hangs out in total darkness for too long, he’ll begin to lose his mind. Therefore, you’ll have to locate lighters and candles which are scattered about the house in order to light up particularly darkened areas.
Jonathan Gagne of SadSquare had this to say about the game:
“We’re going to play with the mind of the player, in a very psychological fashion. Visage isn’t going to be about jump-scares in every corner, it’s going to be about making the every-day typical environment into something so uncanny, so atmospherically terrifying, that you’ll begin to feel uneasy at home facing banal situations. The entities in the game will look close to what you’d expect from a normal person, but something will always be off, making them unexpectedly scarier. We think it’s the key to making something truly terrifying.”
What he says here is not an understatement in the least. Instead of pushing a constant stream of cheap jump scares out at the player, I found myself increasingly creeped out by simple things such as VHS tapes falling out from book shelves, or listening to old tapes with strange voices broadcasting from them.
Somehow, the developers made even the most seemingly mundane things within the game exceedingly creepy, so that by the time you begin to run into some of the entities which haunt the place, you’re already at your wit’s end.
Visage’s current Early Access build can reportedly be played through in just over an hour. However, the game was so unnerving to me that it took me over two hours to get through it. That’s because instead of having to backtrack through the same old rooms over and over as with other horror games, in Visage you’ll think you are going to return to previously visited areas, only to find that the entire environments have changed.
Rather than tread where other horror games have gone, Mr. Gagne encapsulates Visage’s uniqueness in this bit of advice for other horror game developers:
“The next advises concern making the actual game. Don’t go with the overused concepts like the oh-so-popular hide-and-seek genre, or the slasher type. Go with something new, something innovative in terms either of Gameplay or story-telling. Horror is always about those two things. Also, on a final note, sometimes horror is about simplicity, so try to ask yourself before making a horror game: “are we overthinking things?”
Visage is currently in Early Access (Steam) and will be released sometime in 2019.
Visage features great graphics that make its survival horror gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent
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