Played on PC
PT did not become a full-fledged Silent Hills, but zealous enthusiasts continued its business. After Kojima’s pen test in the horror field, the genre experienced another boom in nightmare walking simulators. Sometimes they were nightmarish in their implementation, and sometimes they really got goosebumps: some it turned out to bring the matter to the end, others quietly stalled… Visage managed to get to the release through early access thorns – and the overwhelmingly positive reviews were intriguing. But, to be honest, I thought to try another horror movie with a nice picture and, preferably, a good atmosphere. You have to be careful with your desires, as you know …
⇡ # Scary stories to tell in the dark
The hero slowly comes to his senses. He is at home, but no one else is around. The radio is buzzing. A slight mess says that quite recently life was in full swing here – the remains of dinner on the table. Family? Quite possible. Visage diligently avoids direct conversation. You will even find out the full name of the protagonist only by examining the mail at the front door. Duane Anderson. Who he is and why he was left alone – no ideas. The answer remains to be found in a leisurely study of room after room.
Visage does not lead the player by the handle, but replaces linear narrative with a visceral exploration of secrets. The past of the house hides dark secrets – once upon a time terrible events took place in it, so strong that their echoes are still felt in the walls, and sometimes invade the physical world. Dwayne will have to learn three tragic stories of past residents: a lonely girl Lucy, a sick mother Dolores and a former rugby player Rakan. The chapters devoted to the characters can be played in any order – you just need to find a special item in the house related to the past.
Each story is unique: it has its own rhythm and gameplay features, and is also built on different techniques. Lucy’s story is rather short and straightforward, but very dense in terms of horror. Almost from the very beginning, she bombards with creepy ghosts, constantly keeps in complete darkness and relies heavily on screamers. However, the developers are well aware of how to catch up with the creepiness and classic tricks like the image of a dead girl and doors that suddenly disappear, one has only to turn away.
The chapter about Dolores, on the other hand, mostly emphasizes suspense and psychologism. Immersion in the story of a married couple, in which happiness from the birth of a child was replaced by sadness and pain due to illness, is much slower. Here Visage is not so much scary as it keeps in constant tension. Instead of creepy dark corridors, you are free to roam freely around the house, looking for clues and items to solve riddles that lead to new riddles, behind which more riddles are hidden.
The screamers give way to the uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong. The TV turns on by itself, the radio continues to hiss even if you turn it off, doors slam behind your back, someone’s silhouettes flash in the corridor or outside the window – for just a split second so that you can notice them. I almost had a heart attack when I noticed a terrible grimace that peeked around the corner and immediately disappeared.
Visage has a host of supernatural and unexplained events that happen by chance while exploring the home. You never know what awaits you in the next corridor, and if it waits at all. Sometimes, after all, nothing happens, and this is even worse – instead of discharge, a further increase in tension occurs. The element of randomness allows classic tricks to work so effectively, because it prevents even a horror-savvy player from predicting when the bird will fly out again.
⇡ # There is such a science – to scare
In English, the concepts of “horror” and “terror” are clearly separated and mutually complementary, which is directly reflected in the mechanics of the game. Exploration, which is dominated by tension, characterizes “terror” – you still don’t know what exactly to fear, but with all your gut you feel the terror that awaits somewhere around the corner. Such pressure is reflected in Duane’s psyche: darkness or frightening scenes negatively affect his sanity.
The dark entities that inhabit the house are attracted by madness. If you lead the hero through nightmares over and over again, without allowing him to catch his breath, he becomes a target for ghosts. This is where Visage turns into “horror”. Horror takes on a concrete form, and you find yourself face to face with it, as a rule – completely defenseless. There is nothing to repulse, all that remains is to run as fast and hide in some closet. Although there are no safe places in the game – ethereal spirits will reach you behind any door, if you do not tear yourself away from them – but you hide purely reflexively, even though you know that it is useless. The “curl up and cry” button is missing.
The game skillfully directs random scenes of fear escalating into horror. Cherry on the cake – episodes entirely by hand. For example, at some point you find yourself in a dark basement. The path can be illuminated with a camera flash, in which lines drawn on the floor and walls appear for a moment, clearly leading somewhere. And in another flash, a screaming dead girl appears in front of your nose as from the “Bell”, just as unexpectedly disappearing. On the one hand, it is expected. On the other hand, I want to immediately remove Visage, lamenting: “Well nafig. Well, have you seen, seen this? “
Of course, fear is individual. Horror techniques only work if the viewer (or player) wants to be scared. More often than not, he wants, this is how the brain works. We take sophisticated pleasure from “controlled fear”. Hence this ambiguous feeling – I want to turn off the game and never return to it, but it’s hard to come off, because I wonder what other tricks the authors have in store. The fear of the next step and the desire to take it are woven together, which is reflected in the gameplay.
Visage is very unhurried, pushing to explore at home. The protagonist is silent, only occasionally can groan, breathe heavily or scream (usually together with the player). All pieces of the plot puzzle must be isolated from the environment. As in PT, you will have to explore the same rooms and corridors over and over again, prudently looped. Each new passage slightly (or very noticeably) changes the situation.
After completing all the chapters, Dwayne’s story does not end at all. To find a way out, you will have to unravel many of the secrets of the house. You need to look around very carefully. Quest items are very easy to overlook, and the game does not highlight them in any way. The puzzles are very much in the spirit of Silent Hill – they have little logic at first glance, but once you get into the psychedelic mood, they start to make sense. There are a lot of references to the work of Team Silent, from homages to the endless staircase in Silent Hill 2 to direct quotations of Silent Hill 4: The Room with chains on the doors.
The latest Visage also seems to have a peek at the inventory system. Daniel can carry with him no more than five usable items, which include both simple consumables like nerve pills or lighters, and part of the plot items. If you throw out the latter and move away, they are automatically sent to the pantry, where they can always be found. Only for this you have to go down to the basement. And you, believe me, do not want to go there unless absolutely necessary.
With two-handed tools it is even more difficult – you can’t put them in your pocket at all, just carry them in your hands one at a time. What you need next, a sledgehammer or a pry bar, of course, is not clear. Therefore, basement trips are guaranteed, and this unnecessary routine slows down the pace and causes irritation.
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SadSquare Studio’s debut came out very convincing – Visage is perhaps one of the closest gaming cousins of Silent Hill on the market. I don’t even know if it’s possible to compliment the horror movie more strongly.
constant tension, from which there is nowhere to hide; detailed interior of the house; the scattered stories of the tenants and the secrets of the house add up to an interesting story; random events give horror the missing element of surprise.
not all stories are equally successful; annoying item handling; the risk of getting early gray hair.
The authors use all the features of Unreal Engine 4 to turn fantasy into beautiful and eerie scenes. Visage looks no worse than horror films from famous studios.
The sound is sometimes terrifying, and you just want to turn it off to save your nerves. And this is only a compliment.
Single player game
A spooky quest with an emphasis on exploration. You move around the house with ghosts by touch and force for the sake of another dose of adrenaline.
One of the scariest games ever to capture and expand on the PT concept
Rating: 8.5 / 10
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