Reviews

Layers of Fear review – An Onion of Madness

Polish developer Aspyr Media has ventured into the horror genre, one that quite often doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Layers of Fear is certainly very different from the usual horror games out there, but can it provide enough to fully scare you? Are jump scares predictable? Let’s continue and find out more.

Its a dark night, in the distance you see a mansion, its looks like it was inhabited, but all is too quiet to suggest that anyone resides there anymore. You approach the front door and grab the handle and give it a twist to find that whoever lived here left the door unlocked.

Was that in anticipation of your arrival, or was it just by chance that you happened to be here, in the right place and at the right time. Now youre inside, and the story shall unravel itself before you as you take a trip into the weird and psychedelic world that sits before you. Wanting you to discover the madness left behind.

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Enter… If Your Dare!

Upon entering the mansion, its immediately apparent that all is not right, the darkened rooms, with lights so dim, that it offers just enough light to allow you to become familiar with your surroundings. Furniture sits haphazardly around the rooms, occasionally covered it white sheets to protect from the elements, and not another soul is there to greet you. Its quiet, perhaps too quiet. The only option left, is to find a way through the house and solve the mystery that lies before you and face the madness.

Perception of reality is up for debate here, as it soon becomes apparent that a highly strung painter has become trapped within his own madness as he strives to finish his magnum opus. The rapid decay is even more obvious with letters left behind that provide evidence of the insanity that has twisted and warped this place, and left its mark, one that lurks around every corner, down each hallway and lingers in the shadows of every room. Forcing you to question your own state of mental well being. Did that doorway really just vanish, and leave a weathered wall behind? Are those eyes in the painting watching youre every step? Or is it a trick of the mind to forcibly scare itself.

Paint Me A Story

Inside the mansion, the story behind the painter reveals itself slowly, as you pass through various stages of almost psychedelic horror. Rooms can, and will change the moment you turn around and back again. Thought you had a way out of that room? Well tough luck, it may well just vanish lest you keep it in plain sight. And just who is calling your telephone? And why are inanimate objects like toy dolls running around of their own volition? Yes, creepy and creepier. I dont like it either.

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Moving on, the game doesnt give much to go on, and instead allows you to explore at your own pace, although it does tend to guide you in the preferred direction of story progression. So you wont get too lost until you happen upon a certain couple of sections where the ability to push the game in the right direction doesnt present itself too clearly. Coupled with a frame rate that can at times infuriate, Layers of Fear can be a chore in that respect. But persevere with it, and behind all the rough edges, its a genuinely good game. Bloober Team do have the potential to create a damn good game, and while this wont set the world alight, people will surely take notice of it which I believe it truly deserves.

How Bizzare?

Jump scares are difficult to pull off effectively, both in terms of timing and the actual scare itself. Layers of Fear has tried, but it always seems obvious when it happens. You know that trope, and it kind of takes the edge off things when a scare just happens to be so glaringly blatant that you simply shrug it off. What it does excel at, is the downright strange and bizarre moments that hide away, just waiting for you to make your presence known. Its as if the whole building is alive. But one stand-out scene wasnt really welcome. Yes, the aforementioned toy dolls. I wont go into further detail, but suffice to say, I damn well hate them porcelain purveyors of petrification, and my heart rate has returned to normal for which I thank it kindly.

As the story unravels further, players will find their magnum opus evolving and changing depending on The players actions during the playthrough. There are a total of three different endings for you to discover, which allows for a trio of different endings. If you do decide to go for all of them, you may well end up becoming bored as theres not a great deal of difference except at the end and when you find the painting in between scenes.

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Verdict:

Graphics: 7

Presentation: 7

Sound: 8

Gameplay; 8

Overall Score: 7.5 / 10

To wrap up, Layers of Fear makes a commendable effort at the horror genre, and while it does become predictable at times, theres enough weird and odd things taking place to keep your interest long mouth to finish a single run through. If we were to see another in the series, Im sure that Bloober Team could well take positives as well as negatives from this entry and make something even more sinister. Now, where did I leave my painting?

Format: PS4, Steam & Xbox One (reviewed)

Publisher: Aspyr Media

Developer: Bloober Team

Price: £15.99 – £18.39 Masterpiece Edition – £31.99 LoF/Observer Bundle

Release Date: 16/02/2016

Pegi Rating: 18+

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

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