Visage is one of the most terrifying games I have ever played and I’m not ashamed to admit that. This atmospheric horror game is the stuff of nightmares and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recover.
When I was approached to review this game, I was a little hesitant due to the genre. I haven’t exactly played a ton of horror games and I’ve gotten scared pretty easily when I have. However, after seeing some great things about the game online, I decided to take the plunge and see what all the hype was about.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the game, I’m not sure I’ll be doing any more horror reviews. I’m not sure if my heart or sanity can handle it.
At the start of Visage, I found myself thrown into a dark and mysterious house with little context regarding my purpose. So, I did what any sane person would do in a situation like this and started exploring.
My peaceful exploration quickly began devolving as I found myself learning more about the three previous inhabitants of the home. I don’t want to provide much more information about the story than that, as the unknown is one of the scariest aspects of the game.
The atmosphere that this game is able to create is absolutely extraordinary. From my first few minutes in the game, I knew I was in for a terrifying experience. Even when nothing particularly scary was occurring, I never felt at ease and had a suspicion I was being watched.
Sadly, the gameplay, which is decent for the most part, sometimes took me out of this experience. The main issue I encounter was in regard to the inventory system. Whenever I wanted to use an item, I found myself having to fumble with the controls. This process could have been simplified and the game would have benefitted greatly from it.
Similarly, the controls used when it comes to opening doors also seemed overcomplicated, and my experience suffered as a result. The need to work my way through unorthodox controls to simply open a door broke the masterfully crafted atmosphere. Immersion is particularly important for a game like this, which builds terror through suspense and atmosphere.
I also encountered some issues with the sanity meter mechanic that was included. While it’s an interesting idea in concept, I feel it could have been executed better. Essentially, it measures the amount of time you spend in the dark and decreases your sanity accordingly. If it gets low enough more paranormal activities will begin occurring, which may result in death. The only problem is that it’s super sensitive and requires you to be in a frustratingly small pocket of light to actually recognize it.
On the other hand, I found no glaring issues with the graphics and was pleasantly surprised by them. For a game developed by a small team, the game looks great. My only complaint is that the character models appear a little wonky at times. I understand the focus of the game is the environments and not the characters, but I feel they could have been a little more refined. There was something especially unsettling about how the arms of the protagonist sometimes acted when interacting with items.
One of the most terrifying aspects of this game was the sound design. I played the game with headphones on to get the full horror experience and didn’t regret it for a second. Well, I actually did regret it, but that was just due to me being unbelievably scared as a result.
Walking around the home, I would hear the slightest sound and go into a panic. Sometimes, it was something as simple as a radio that had mysteriously turned on. But others, it was something more sinister walking around in the attic.
The graphics and sound combined to create an amazing atmosphere that deserves recognition. Nothing paranormal could be happening and I would still find myself gripping my controller in fear. At these moments, the game was at its best.
Visage was at its worst when the sometimes-janky controls and mechanics got in the way. In a game that works so hard to create an immersive environment, the sloppy controls constantly reminded me that I was indeed just playing a videogame. The decision to not stick to conventional inventory management and door opening mechanics really bogs this game down.
Even with these issues, Visage is a terrifying game that shows just how scary an empty house can truly be. It is the scariest game I have ever played, and I was happy to come out of it still breathing. There were multiple occasions where I had to turn off the game and evaluate if all the trauma was worth getting the review written.
However, I persevered so I could bring this review to horror fans, who I feel would enjoy this game much more than I did. I wrote this review keeping the target audience in mind, regardless of my personal taste. I hope I don’t come across as overly negative, as I am just addressing issues I feel noticeably impact the experience.
If you love the fear associated with the mysterious and unknown, Visage is the game for you.
Thank you to the publisher for providing a code for this review!