Layers of Fear
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed by Jess Landry
I find horror video games that take more of an exploratory approach to their gameplay usually end up being hella creepy. Titles like Silent Hill, Outlast, Alien: Isolation and the forever-in-our-hearts P.T. come to mind; ones that rely more on tension and puzzles than combat. Add Layers of Fear to that list, and get ready to be scared shitless.
Players take control in this single-player game as a delusional painter looking to complete his magnum opus. Everything appears to be hunky-dory during the first few moments spent exploring his spooky Victorian mansion, but that feeling of ease quickly vanishes once the painter’s studio is reached. When players exit the room, the hallway that was once outside is now a completely different room. It’s up to the player to navigate the ever-changing halls of the home, and piece together disturbing clues about the painter’s life and family – ultimately, a journey that leads into the psyche of a broken mind. And, o’course, spooky happenings pop up along the way, growing in intensity and frequency as progress is made.
There are a ton of positives about Layers of Fear, the most notable being the overall design of the game. From the fine details of the Victorian mansion to the paintings that line its halls, the Bloober Team clearly put a lot of love into the set design, and it shows. The sound design is also on-point, something that helps keep players full invested in the uneasy world.
Though the landscape is ever-changing, it’s next to impossible to stray off course – the game runs a tight ship, effortlessly guiding players through the organized labyrinth (though it doesn’t appear that way at the time). And when a puzzle comes around, the solution is never an overly challenging one – that’s another point that keeps the game running smoothly, as you’re never bogged down by an insurmountable head-scratcher.
Layers of Fear is an atmospheric, wonderfully creepy game, and with the game’s expansion pack, Inheritance, coming out in August, now is a great time to try out the original and scare yourself silly.