Interview With Sad Square Studio, The Developers Behind Visage

Interview With Sad Square Studio, The Developers Behind Visage


We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the developers behind the latest Steam horror game hit Visage. One of our editors also had the chance to review the latest build of the game over here if you are curious to know more.

During the interview, we will touch on the subjects of gameplay, engine, game design, and more!

The reception for Visage seems to be extremely positive with quite an impressive review percentage, how has the reception been for the game over the years from your perspective? 

We are extremely happy with the game’s reception and the critics are above our expectations. It pretty much confirmed us that our vision for the game was what people wanted from a psychological horror game.

You had a very successful Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight Campaign, are you completely satisfied with going the full self-published route, or did you ever consider getting a publisher? 

The Kickstarter’s campaign was also a very big surprise for us, because we initially asked for 35K$ CAD and we ended up with more than 100k$ CAD. The people’s interest for that type of game was exceeding our initial thoughts.

We thought of going with a publisher at a certain point during the development, but we wanted to be fully in control of our game in all aspects. This is quite a challenge for a team of 2 when you have no prior publishing experience. We are relying mostly on word of mouth to get our game into the wild.

What inspired you to take a stab at the first-person horror genre as opposed to another type of approach to tell your horror story? 

The first person perspective gives you a more personal way of living an experience such as Visage. We wanted the player to feel like he is the character instead of being a spectator. This is also the main reason why we chose to not make our character talk. I was just remembering playing half-life games and I was way more immersed when your character is silent.

When did the idea for Visage appear? when did you decide it was something that you really wanted to pursue? 

Visage is born from the deception of not seeing the new Silent Hills being made. When we played P.T. for the first time, we legitimately felt dreaded and anxious in a good way. We were simply amazed at how this game nailed the atmospheric pressure it created with such a minimalistic approach. When we heard the news, we said to ourselves that this type of horror must prevail and someone has to make it real.

The environments and interiors of the gameworld seem very detailed and specific, were they based on any specific places, or were they built from imagination entirely for the game? 

Everything you see is fiction and not based on any real places. Because the game is mainly played in the house, I decided to put most of my efforts into it because the player will constantly come back in each room several times. 

You started work on Visage around 5 years ago, what was it like working on a single game for that long, do you feel it could have been done faster or it took the time it needed to take?

Going with such a task with a team this small is really time consuming. I will honestly say that I don’t feel like I worked on this game for so long. Time goes by so fast it is unreal. The game could have been done quicker for sure, but every time we were on the right track, something happened to make things more difficult. Upgrading the engine’s version took us several months of reworking stuff that was already done and working. The game is also non-linear and it causes a hell of conditions to respect to make sure everything will work if a specific chapter is done before another one.

What was the experience of working with Unreal Engine 4 like?

UE4 is a god sent gift. This engine is mind-blowingly user friendly and deep at the same time. We are not scratching the surface of the power of this engine with Visage. It was a really enjoyable experience as an environment artist to play with this engine.

We are curious about your thoughts on UE5 and if are there any plans to move Visage or any other upcoming game to the Unreal Engine 5 next year?

We had our load of trouble migrating the game from version to version, so we will not migrate the game to UE5 unfortunately. Future games will obviously be on UE5 though. I’m extremely eager to see what can be done with this new iteration of Unreal.

The original release date for the game was set to 2018, did you decide to expand the scope because of the positive reaction? 

The game was initially supposed to offer 4 hours of gameplay in the house only, revolving around only one antagonist. At this scope, the game could have been out way earlier. After seeing the interest for the game during our Kickstarter campaign, we decided to move the project to our second phase of expansion, which was 4 chapters and bringing the player outside of the house, so way more job to do.

There is an upcoming VR update to Visage, are you planning on adding newer technologies like finger and hand tracking, and is there any ballparked date in mind for the VR version? 

We are currently evaluating our VR solution for Visage, so we will remain a bit more conservative on this matter. Regarding the release date, we are aiming for 2021.

What’s next for SadSquare studio after you finish the upcoming VR version of Visage?

We have not brainstormed our next project yet. We are still fully working on Visage at this moment to finish all the stuff that needs to be done before moving on to another project.

About author

Pedro Relvas

Editor Chief. Having previous experience in the industry as a games journalist for the past 5 years, Pedro started this new project with the team to deliver our take on the Gaming Industry. Fan of SP/MP games and a huge World of Warcraft nerd. Contact me at : [email protected]

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