Visage – HCF Videogame Review

Developed by Sad Square Studio – Out now on PC, PS4 & Xbox One (version tested)

Of all the games that have come and gone over the years, few have left me with conflicting feelings towards them as Visage. It’s a survival horror, influenced by the likes of the nowadays mythical P.T. Awaking in a haunted house, with lots of strange goings on, you’re tasked to put the pieces of the puzzle together, of why you are there and what happened, all the while keeping your wits about you and avoiding any spectral confrontations. If I was to draw a comparison to help you visualise it, then it’s almost as if Resident Evil VII, was a point and click. A game with visuals that wow as much as they disgust, slowly traipsing round a strange house, trying to find items to help you out of the situation, and also staying out of the way of its less than friendly residents. Slowly is the key phrase here, however. As good as the game looks, it moves at the stateliest pace, making it feel like you’re walking through treacle sometimes. Perhaps it’s intentional, given the game’s often ethereal vibes, and we’ve all had those dreams where mobility happens to be an issue in a time of great crisis or horror. Even with a run button, it still moves a less than eager pace and when you are to-ing and fro-ing from one end of the house to the other, it becomes a drag very quickly.

The spectres of this horror house enjoy toying with you. Turning off the lights, interfering with appliances. The fleeting glimpse of a face poking round the corner, distant noises and doors suddenly slamming. If none of this gives you a fright when playing through at least once, then you are made of very strong stuff indeed. The tone occasionally changes, as in one instance, I encountered some piss-taking kitchen appliances. On top of that there are conundrums to tackle, and they aren’t always spelled out for you. It is satisfying when you manage to beat a particularly taxing road block, however the biggest issue I found with these again, is the speed the game moves. Now I’m not expecting Doom style hastiness when traversing the rooms and secrets of this haunted house, but to at least be able to get from one place to another faster than my nan would be a real help. Another hindrance is the sanity of your character. Being trapped in a haunted house with ghouls tormenting you left right and centre would be more than enough to send any normal person off the rails, so when things go bump in the night, this affects your mental health. Stay in the dark too long or get a wee fright, and you soon start to deteriorate. Luckily the absent residents left plenty of pills about to steady the nerves and keep you calm. Go without for too long however, and you get confronted with one these malevolent monsters and meet a grim fate.

As a horror game, Visage works exceptionally well, full of creeping, tightening tension, visually brilliant and also horrible. As a videogame in general, it is found to be somewhat lacking in enjoyment. The difficult, time consuming puzzles, and general slow pace would be OK as game to chill out with, but as one where you constantly have your back to the wall so to speak, it does become frustrating and rather tedious at times. It’s definitely worth giving a go. As mentioned, it works tremendously at creeping you out, and if you can get past the slow, meandering pace, then you’ll likely have a fantastic time.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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