Visage (video game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Splash screen of the game
Developer(s)SadSquare Studio
Publisher(s)SadSquare Studio
Designer(s)Jonathan Vallières
Programmer(s)Jonathan Gagné
  • Martin Mcghee
  • Jean-Sebastien Olivier
Writer(s)Victoria Suchanek
Composer(s)Peter Wicher
EngineUnreal Engine 4
  • Windows, PS4, Xbox One
  • October 30, 2020
  • Enhanced Edition
  • Xbox Series X/S
  • October 28, 2021
  • PlayStation 5
  • November 11, 2021
Genre(s)Psychological horror

Visage is a 2020 independent psychological horror video game developed and published by SadSquare Studio. Set in a strangely structured house with a somber history, players control Dwayne Anderson as he explores the backstories of the inhabitants that once lived there. The game is presented in first-person perspective, and a large portion of the house is accessible, although some areas require keys. Obstacles include avoiding the dark to reduce loss of sanity, though several tools can aid players through the dark.

Mainly inspired by the Silent Hills playable teaser, the game ran Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaigns. Various horror video games were cited as inspirations, several of which also drew comparisons with Visage. It was later released for PC on October 30, 2020, and in 2021 on console platforms. The game saw praise for its psychological effectiveness, audiovisual design, and atmospheric tension, though it was criticized for its limited inventory, cumbersome gameplay, and bugs.


At times, lights may turn off or doors may slam shut, signalling paranormal activity. These events, as well as staying in the dark for long periods of time, will cause the player to lose their sanity, resulting in much more severe paranormal experiences.

Visage has a similar setting and gameplay as its spiritual predecessor P.T.. The game takes place in a large suburban home in the 1980s and utilizes a first-person-perspective. The player controls Dwayne Anderson, an inhabitant of the home who committed suicide after killing his wife and children. Dwayne is trapped inside the house and is tormented by supernatural entities. The objective of the game is to find a way out of the house and learn about the cause of all the paranormal activity.

The house is designed as a semi-open world, with large sections freely explorable to the player at all times and multiple pathways to reach each area. However, in order to fully explore the map, players will need to find keys to unlock each door first. The player must face several hazards while exploring. First, they will have to avoid dark areas to manage their sanity. Sanity, like similar systems in games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent, is decreased if Dwayne stays in the dark for too long.

Secondly, ghosts will create paranormal events by manipulating the house as the player explores. Examples include light bulbs breaking, doors slamming or opening, and electronic devices malfunctioning. Witnessing these events will cause Dwayne's sanity to fall. Lastly, Dwayne must avoid being caught by the various ghosts and demons that inhabit the home. Being caught by these ghosts and demons means instant death, so players must carefully maneuver through the house to avoid them. The lower Dwayne's sanity, the more severe each paranormal event becomes, up to the point that a ghost or demon will appear and attack the player.

Players can use lighters, pills, light bulbs, and candles to help them avoid these threats. Lighters allow the player to move through dark areas without a light, taking pills can recover sanity, light bulbs can be used to repair broken lights, and candles are a light source that ghosts cannot manipulate. There are various other items the player can find and use, like a camera or a sledgehammer.

Dwayne has a very limited inventory and can store only five of these items at a time and hold two more in his hands. As a result, the player must explore the house very carefully to uncover the truth.[1]

The fourth chapter of the game is divided into seven subchapters; in each subchapter, players must find VHS tapes scattered through the house, each labeled differently: Pride, Negligence, Indifference, Prison, Addiction, Greed and Affliction.[2]


In 1985 at a suburban home, a man named Dwayne Anderson[3] shoots and kills his wife and two children before killing himself. Waking up at a bloody, empty room, he hears a voicemail from neighbor Rose, who has not seen him out of his house in three weeks.[4] He tries opening the front door, but it is locked. Paranormal events begin occurring throughout the house, and Dwayne begins searching for a way out. In the process, he navigates through experiences, divided into three chapters, centering around the people who once lived there.

The first chapter is about Lucy, a little girl who in 1965 was befriended by a demon that communicated with her via television and radio. Over time, due to the demon's influence, Lucy's behavior became increasingly abnormal. One day, under the demon's direction, Lucy killed her pet bird Peaco by biting its head off. Lucy's horrified parents took her to therapy;[5] however, the syringing[6] only worsened Lucy's mental state.[7] Further tormented by the demon, she locked herself in the bathroom and ripped off her jaw, subsequently dying from blood loss while her parents desperately bang on the door; the demon later unlocked it.

The second chapter revolves around Dolores and George, an elderly couple who had a baby. In 1962, Dolores was reported to exhibit symptoms of various mental disorders, such as Dolores hearing her own voice from the baby monitor reciting a numerical sequence—the key to her "inner house." George believed that the remedies given to Dolores were unhelpful, stressing him.[8] As Dolores worsened, she became increasingly mistrustful[9] and even hostile towards George, once attacking him believing he was poisoning her tea. Dolores eventually murdered George, stabbing him with seven knives and leaving his corpse in his study room.[10] Later, Dolores hanged herself next to her crying baby's bassinet.

The third chapter features 28-year-old Rakan Al-Mutawa,[11] who suffered from scopophobia and believed that someone is spying on and attempting to silence him. In 1970, he was attacked by a shadowy entity and used a firearm to defend himself,[12] after which he is interned in a psychiatric hospital. Believing the hospital to be part of the conspiracy against him,[13] Rakan wreaked havoc: threatening the staff, behaving violently, jumping from a window, sabotaging the building's electricity, and even killing a staff member with a crowbar. Doctors were often forced to sedate him when he acts out.[14] In response, Rakan was isolated from all other patients and staff.[15] Months later, doctors concluded that Rakan is recovering, and he was officially discharged.[16] Sometime later, however, Rakan, now disabled, declared victory against the unnamed entity,[17] before being locked and killed in a desolate cell by an unknown figure.

Riversdale, fictionally a water treatment plant Dwayne worked at in the game

The final chapter observes Dwayne's past family, consisting of wife Claire, son John, and daughter Sarah. Dwayne, an alcoholic, distanced himself from them.[18] When Claire discovered that Dwayne had been abusively consuming Chlorpromazine to relieve stress, she expressed concern,[19] however through his present senses, Dwayne learns that Claire was a gold digger who wanted him dead by various suicide methods, all of which are the causes of death of the previous inhabitants in the house.[20] This chapter also has a scene where Dwayne sits at a sofa drinking a "wonderful" alcoholic "poison", as the television plays a live video of a masked man angrily seeking to find Dwayne's true self.[21] There is also a scene set in Hell: a tall and wide cave, where people make themselves suffer; the masked man claims that thanks to Dwayne, everyone in Hell "enjoys their newfound home." The chapter ends with revealing that Dwayne was a scientist who started working at a water treatment plant in Riversdale, Maryland in April 1952. There, Dwayne drops an apple to a well, which causes dead bodies to float. He faints and wakes up at his house.


The game has multiple endings. In the default ending, Dwayne wears a mask, and it is day. He enters a room behind a haphazardly painted wall, and teleports to a white screen with his family in the distance. The credits' background feature a heavenly rainforest.

In the alternate ending, named "The Void", Dwayne enters the room. Opening a secret door and going down a staircase, he reaches the room in the game's opening, with the revolver there. Dwayne shoots himself like he did in the opening. In a flash, he sees the location of one of the seven VHS tapes needed to collect to achieve the default ending. After collecting one, time repeats itself six times— at last, the revolver is empty. Dwayne wakes up in the well in Chapter 4, endless in all directions. If the player plays via Steam or console, they will receive the Void Trophy.


Logo of developer SadSquare Studio

Visage started development in January 2015 and was announced in September. The game was successfully financed by a Kickstarter campaign running from January through March 2016.[22] They set the goal to CAD 35,000.[23] In October 2015, a Steam Greenlight campaign was launched,[24] featuring a trailer embedded in the page.[25]

In an interview with IGN, the developer, SadSquare Studio, stated that the game is conceptualized to mainly utilize "the uncanny" to create a sense of dread and fear. It was inspired by P.T.., the teaser for Silent Hills; graphics designer Jonathan Vallières stated that the project's cancellation motivated the creation of the game. Other inspirations include The Conjuring, Insidious, Sinister, Ju-on, Ring, Kairo, and Phantasmagoria.[26][27]


The developers initially targeted the release date to be in January 2017, in both computers (PC) and virtual reality (VR).[27] On September 25, 2018, the developers announced that a demo of Visage would be released on October 2, 2018. The demo version for Visage was released on Steam on October 2, 2018, and that it was planned for release on early 2019.[28] After a long delay, on February 15, 2020, SadSquare Studio announced that "the main content of Visage is pretty much done", and that they were projecting for a fall 2020 release.[29] It was released on October 30, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to PC, it was also released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[30] It was later released an Enhanced Edition on Xbox Series X and Series S and PlayStation 5 on October 28, 2021.[31]


Visage received "generally positive" reviews on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[32][33][34] On OpenCritic, it received a "Strong" grade (78%), also aggregating its Xbox Series X, Series S, and PlayStation 5 reviews.[40]

Many critics praised the game's atmosphere, which they described as a perfect execution of the psychological horror genre, providing viewers with a constant and gradual state of anxiety, with the paranormal moments appearing in the climax of that anxiety, not abusing the jump scare device which many horror works tend to do.[37][38][41][42] Doug Mercer of COGconnected called the game traumatizing and "nightmare-inducing", which gave it a unique style of storytelling,[43] and Daniel Tack of Game Informer wrote that the game may cause real-life anxiety while opening doors or descending stairs.[36] Thus, critics expressed guarantee that horror fans will be satisfied with the game,[44][45] and that players will be interested to replay it.[35] Its inspiration from P.T. is said to be apparent,[41][46] with Eurogamer Italy calling it "the best Silent Hill emulator of the last decade."[39] The atmosphere is also credited to the sound design and lighting.[41][42][36] It was also credited to the music,[43] with the music from Lucy's chapter deemed the best for its gradual rise in tension, creating a rare kind of unsettlement.[45] Some critics said that many faint-hearted gamers might not enjoy the game,[43][45] and the lack of instructions was criticized.[41][44] Lynn called the survival part of the game "underdeveloped", though he noted that the psychological aspect is what matters.[35]

Visage's story saw mixed reviews. Mercer praised the psychological effectiveness with the player character's objective of not turning insane, though criticized the way the story ends despite being overshadowed by the atmosphere.[43] Alan Strawbridge of PlayStation Universe deemed Lucy's chapter the best. Though subsequent chapters still maintain the same tension in unique ways and was praised for diversifying the scope of the game, the repetition of the same places within the house was criticized.[45]

The controls and dynamics of Visage have been widely criticized. Many critics commented on the limited inventory, meaning one cannot store as much survival items as needed. The gameplay also allows two items to be held at respective hands, which is criticized as its complexity makes the gameplay laborious and cumbersome, though it was noted that the game employs a niche, patience-centric type of horror gameplay.[37][42][39] Strawbridge complained that some of the PlayStation controls were difficult to reach, ruining the suspension of disbelief.[45] The frustration of trying to retrieve important items as players struggle to survive saw polarizing opinions, though it was said to be not much a problem for the minimalistic game.[43][45] Several critics noted that there are some technical problems, obvious due to it being produced independently.[38][45] However, it was also noted that these bugs prevented retrieval of items at times,[46] and the game would often confuse the player standing in a lit area as being in a dim one.[41] The struggle of having to save manually has also been noted.[44]

See also[edit]

  • Allison Road – another first-person horror game considered to be a spiritual successor to P.T.


  1. ^ "Visage The Game". SadSquare Studio. 3 October 2017. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  2. ^ Meluso, Maria (4 November 2020). "Every VHS Tape Location in Visage". Screen Rant. Valnet. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  3. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Radioman: ...We have a special guest with us today... His name is Dwayne Anderson... He killed his whole family.
  4. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Rose: Hello, Dwayne. It's Rose, your neighbor. [...] I'm getting a bit worried. I haven't seen you out of the house in about three weeks. Is everything alright? Could you call me just to let me know everything's fine? Alright, bye-bye.
  5. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Lucy's mom: Why would she do that?! She loved Peaco! / Lucy's dad: I don't know, she's never done anything like it. I think we should see a professional.
  6. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Lucy's mom: [W]ho the hell prescribes syringes for a child?! Couldn't they just give us pills like everyone else? How can a child trust a parent that press needles up their arms?! This new doctor clearly doesn't know anything about parenting.
  7. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Lucy's mom: I don't want their help anymore! She's only been worsening ever since we went to these "doctors"! Imaginary friends and all these weird behaviors?! She doesn't even call me Mommy anymore!
  8. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. George: Dolores' symptoms are aggravating. Doctors tell me it's become hard to pinpoint the exact disorder, [that] she's got symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, dementia, and more. [sobbing] I don't know what to do anymore. It feels like treatments are only making things worse. Today, she told me she often hears her own voice whispering a sequence of five numbers through the baby monitor. She said it's the key to her "inner house".
  9. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Dolores: What took you so long, George? You know when tea time is, and yet you always find a way to be late. Were you in your "study room" again, scribbling nonsense and talking to your recorder? I'm beginning to think you love your work more than me. I know you're tired of me. Oh yes – I know you'd make me gone in a heartbeat if you could. It's just time.
  10. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Oven: Did you see what the batshit crazy old bitch did yesterday? / Top fridge door: I heard that the old woman murdered her husband in cold blood! Not only that, but I heard that she plunged seven knives in his chest, and that he's sitting dead in his study room!
  11. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Recorder: Follow up of patient #9, on request from Smith Walter. Patient name, Rakan Al-Mutawa. Gender, male. Age, 28.
  12. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Doctor Tim: He claims that someone broke into his house and tried to strangle him, and used his firearm in an attempt to defend himself. What's weird is that there's nothing in the police report that indicates any break-in. There are some minor bruises in his body, but they all seem self-inflicted. [...] I took a look at his medical background, and he's had really bad cases of... / Doctor Smith Walter: Scopophobia.
  13. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Doctor Tim: He refuses to answer most of our questions, claiming that we already know the answers, [and that] we're partly responsible for what happened.
  14. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Rakan: Don't you dare touch me, you fucks! / Security guard 1: You're not giving us much of a choice here, sir. / Security guard 2: Seize him, and administer him the sedative! / Rakan: No! Get off me! Fuck! Off!
  15. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Interrogator: You have assaulted multiple employees and threatened security guards with a knife. You sabotaged the electric panel, leaving the entire ward under lockdown. Such behavior is leaving us questioning your mental stability and health. We are left with no choice but to isolate you from the patients and employees in the psychiatric ward.
  16. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Doctor: So! Rakan, right? I'm here with good news! Based on your behavior and recovery the past few months, you'll be ready to leave and go home!
  17. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Rakan: [evil laughter] I knew it! Oh, they're in big trouble now. With everything I know, I'll definitely take them down! You hear me, fuckers?! I'm onto you!
  18. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Claire: You're always ignoring us, glued to your fucking beers! You don't talk, you don't sleep in the bedroom, you don't get out at all. You just don't care, do you?! [...] Talk to me. You used to be so good to us.
  19. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Claire: I love you, Dwayne, I wanna help you. [...] Who prescribed you this, and why? I want to know so I can help you through it! Are you slowly going insane, Dwayne? Should we be worried, because we are. Recently, you've been scaring everyone with your cold indifference. Are you thinking of leaving us? What do you wanna run from so bad that you'd drug yourself everyday? Do you want to die, Dwayne?
  20. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Claire: I'm only with you because you have money. It's probably blood money, but I don't care. I don't care about you. If you wanna die, I'll happily oblige. Do you want a rope? Want me to kick the bucket? [...] Want me to stab you with seven knives? Want me to rip the jaw off your ugly face? How about I break both your legs and leave you to rot in a cellar? [G]o to Hell, where you belong!
  21. ^ SadSquare Studio (30 October 2020). Visage (Windows). SadSquare Studio. Masked man: Who am I? Ahh... you've always been like this, haven't you? Always seeking the wrong questions. Dwayne, Dwayne, Dwayne... Listen to me here. The real question isn't who am I, but who are you?! [...] Now, Dwayne, will you fucking tell me who you are?!
  22. ^ SadSquare Studio. 2016. "Visage — Psychological horror game". Kickstarter. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  23. ^ Guarino, Mike (8 February 2016). "New Horror Game Kickstarter Visage Inspired By P.T. And Silent Hill | AOTF". Archived from the original on 11 February 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  24. ^ "Visage Brings Its Haunted-House Horror to Greenlight". Hardcore Gamer. 2 October 2015. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  25. ^ "Atmospheric Psychological Horror Game Visage Hits Kickstarter With New Trailer". Hardcore Gamer. 27 January 2016. Archived from the original on 9 July 2019. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  26. ^ "VISAGE DEVS SPEAK ABOUT P.T. INFLUENCE, GAME LENGTH, AND MORE – IGN FIRST". IGN. 5 October 2017. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  27. ^ a b Rad, Chloi (5 February 2016). "Visage Is a Hyper-Real Horror Game in the Style of P.T." Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  28. ^ Gutierrez, Yaris (30 October 2018). "Visage is a Terrifying Experience That Feels Like What Silent Hills Could Have Been". DualShockers. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  29. ^ "Psychological horror game Visage launches October 30 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Game was released at October 30". Gematsu. 23 October 2020. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  30. ^ Tack, Daniel. "Horror Game Visage Releases On October 30". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  31. ^ "Visage: Enhanced Edition". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  32. ^ a b "Visage for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Archived from the original on 12 October 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  33. ^ a b "Visage for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Archived from the original on 21 November 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  34. ^ a b "Visage for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Archived from the original on 14 December 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  35. ^ a b c Lynn, Kevin (16 December 2020). "Review for Visage". Adventure Gamers. Archived from the original on 19 April 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  36. ^ a b c Tack, Daniel (3 November 2020). "Visage Review — Awesome Apprehension". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 29 November 2020. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  37. ^ a b c Etna, Biagio (16 November 2020). "Visage - La Recensione" [Visage - Review]. IGN Italia (in Italian). Archived from the original on 29 April 2021. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  38. ^ a b c "Test Visage: le jeu d'horreur que les orphelins de P.T. attendaient ?" [Visage Test: The Horror Game PT Orphans Have Been Waiting For?]. (in French). 7 November 2020. Archived from the original on 9 May 2021. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  39. ^ a b c Cantù, Riccardo (11 November 2020). "Visage - recensione" [Visage - review]. Eurogamer Italy (in Italian). Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 3 December 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  40. ^ "Visage for PS4, XB1, PC, XBXS, PS5 Reviews". OpenCritic. 3 November 2020. Archived from the original on 15 May 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  41. ^ a b c d e Foster, George (18 November 2020). "Visage Review - P.T. Would Be Proud (PS4)". PlayStation LifeStyle. Mandatory. Archived from the original on 14 April 2021. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  42. ^ a b c Shaw, Andrew (30 November 2020). "Visage". The Digital Fix. Network N. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  43. ^ a b c d e "Visage Review - Some Seriously Spooky Sh*t". COGconnected. 30 November 2020. Archived from the original on 10 February 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  44. ^ a b c Meluso, Maria (19 November 2020). "Visage Review: A Relentlessly Unnerving Challenge". Screen Rant. Valnet. Archived from the original on 19 November 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  45. ^ a b c d e f g "Visage Review (PS4) - A Relentlessly Spine-Chilling Set Of Different Horror Stories". PlayStation Universe. 24 November 2020. Archived from the original on 27 December 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  46. ^ a b "Visage Review". TheSixthAxis. 17 December 2020. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2022.

External links[edit]