Hor­ror trends seem to come in waves any time some­thing par­tic­u­lar­ly scary hits the scene. Hideo Koji­ma and Guiller­mo del Toro’s hor­ror opus of a demo, P.T., would have been that spark for the genre if the full game had come to fruition. Sad­ly, only a short demo gave proof of con­cept to what is one of the most unique and ter­ri­fy­ing hor­ror gam­ing expe­ri­ences. Noth­ing had come close to me in match­ing what I felt when wan­der­ing through the end­less hall­way of P.T.‘s demo, that is, until Sad­Square Stu­dio released the final ver­sion of Vis­age. Promised as the spir­i­tu­al suc­ces­sor to a hor­ror game we would now nev­er pry from the clutch­es of Kon­a­mi, Vis­age wears its inspi­ra­tion of its sleeve. Every­thing from the sound and visu­al design, to the obscure puz­zles of Vis­age screams P.T. and I have final­ly found myself trans­port­ed back to the excite­ment I felt for a tru­ly ter­ri­fy­ing hor­ror game.

Tak­ing place entire­ly inside a three-bed­room sin­gle-fam­i­ly home, Vis­age is a very inti­mate hor­ror expe­ri­ence. It is not too long into the game before you could draw a floor plan of the Vis­age house from mem­o­ry. The game takes you through­out every area of the house, search­ing for clues as to how to pro­ceed. This set­ting lends itself to hor­ror extreme­ly well, since as you explore the house, you come to know it very well, only to have unex­pect­ed changes and encoun­ters rear their heads as you round a pre­vi­ous­ly safe cor­ner. Vis­age does take you out­side of the walls of the house on occa­sion, but most of the action expert­ly uses that pri­ma­ry house to bring the scares.

The main thrust of Vis­age is guid­ing you through the expe­ri­ences of mul­ti­ple spir­its who met a grue­some and untime­ly end. These spir­its are not your friends and you are always being hunt­ed from the moment you wake up inside the dingy emp­ty room and stum­ble out into the main house. The inten­si­ty of the atmos­phere in Vis­age is a bit of dou­ble-edged sword. On the one hand, just like in P.T., there is a weight to exist­ing inside this house. There is a con­stant fear of what could jump out at you if you turn a cor­ner or light up your lighter. Keep­ing this going is a dif­fi­cult thing for any game to do, but Vis­age actu­al­ly man­ages to stay scary for the long haul. While P.T. was a short­er expe­ri­ence, Vis­age is sig­nif­i­cant­ly longer and after my first few play ses­sions I was exhaust­ed from being tense. This can be pret­ty eas­i­ly resolved by play­ing in short­er bursts, but if you are espe­cial­ly sen­si­tive to scary games, this one might be a bit much. Vis­age comes at you hard with a com­bi­na­tion of slow-burn scary moments and even some well-earned jump scares. I am a huge hor­ror fan and even I had a night­mare the first night after play­ing Vis­age.

One of the real­ly unique things about P.T. was the puz­zle design. It took some true pok­ing and prod­ding to fig­ure out what that game want­ed from its play­ers, and this is some­thing oth­er imi­ta­tors like Lay­ers of Fear nev­er quite got right. This type of puz­zle design makes for a sat­is­fy­ing expe­ri­ence when you man­age to crack the code and Vis­age offers this in spades. Any of the moments where I came to the solu­tion of any of these obscure puz­zles nat­u­ral­ly felt like I was a great detec­tive solv­ing a dif­fi­cult case under har­row­ing cir­cum­stances. On the flip side, wan­der­ing around aim­less­ly can feel real­ly frus­trat­ing, espe­cial­ly when the threat of get­ting jump scare killed or run­ning out of pills to heal your san­i­ty are con­stant con­cerns. Some of these puz­zles rely on a bit of luck to stum­ble upon and it can occa­sion­al­ly feel a bit like pix­el-hunt­ing at times.

Walk­ing into the stair­well hall­way of Vis­age and hear­ing the groan of the the chain hold­ing up the light imme­di­ate­ly sent a shiv­er down my back. The dusty rem­nants of whomev­er lived in this house before lit­ter the floor and shelves ren­der in impres­sive high-fideli­ty. Is that laugh­ing, or cry­ing I’m hear­ing from just around that cor­ner? You would be for­giv­en for think­ing I was talk­ing about P.T. for all of these com­ments, but that is just how well that Vis­age has man­aged to evoke the set­ting and tone of that demo. If you have been wait­ing for the game that can make you feel as though you got to play the full ver­sion of P.T., then Vis­age has you covered.

Pros:

  • Expert­ly-craft­ed atmos­phere that direct­ly injects hor­ror into your veins
  • A con­sis­tent­ly scary expe­ri­ence from begin­ning to end
  • Pays homage to P.T. while build­ing upon the blue­print that it left

Cons:

  • Puz­zles can be obscure at times to the point of frustration
  • The con­stant­ly scary atmos­phere can get a lit­tle exhaust­ing at times

The year that it came out, I gave P.T. game of the year, in spite of it just being a demo. I was crushed when the project was can­celled, but I final­ly feel as though I have got­ten the chance to play a full P.T. game with Vis­age. If you are a hor­ror fan that has been yearn­ing for a tru­ly ter­ri­fy­ing hor­ror game, I high­ly rec­om­mend Vis­age. The prob­lems that P.T. had are even more appar­ent when bring­ing it into a full game with Vis­age, but it is worth div­ing in if you can han­dle the puz­zles and scares. Vis­age deliv­ers on a promise to ele­vate hor­ror video games and if you loved P.T. then you should not miss the chance to play Vis­age right now. Vis­age is avail­able now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars

PlaySta­tion 4 ver­sion played on the PlaySta­tion 5 for this review. Review code was pro­vid­ed by Plan of Attack for this review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *