Layers of Fear Review 23423

Layers of Fear Review

Horror games like Layers of Fear tend to be divisive. Some will appreciate exploring a world, both literally and narratively, whereas others much instead approach problems head on. This resulted in a wide variety of scores for the original Layers of Fear and, to a lesser extent, Layers of Fear 2. With Bloober Team bringing the originals to more modern standards, is this a franchise worth revisiting, or was it better left in the past?

Despite the name, Layers of Fear combines the original experiences in a single package with additional content to make it work. This can sometimes make things jarring, but it works pretty well here.

This begins with a writer located in an abandoned lighthouse. After some strange things occur, the story shifts to the original narrative about a troubled painter. Most of the narrative is told through environmental storytelling, meaning your willingness to explore and listen will directly impact your experience. Following this story, it shifts to an actor on a cruise ship, playing out similarly but slightly more refinedly.

After establishing the core narrative, Layers of Fear moves to an essential survival horror experience. Players explore a room and collect random items that build the narrative or are used for a puzzle until the goal is achieved. It’s rarely straightforward what you need to do; sometimes, it’s simply closing a door, whereas other times, an item needs to be found. The lack of direction will undoubtedly resonate with some, though the general try everything until something works approach grows old rather quickly.

How Ominous

Honestly, the issue isn’t the tired gameplay loop as much as Layers of Fear playing the same cards repeatedly. It’s ubiquitous to enter a room and quickly realize there is nothing to see, followed by exiting a completely different location. The first couple of times, it’s interesting; it just grows increasingly tired as the adventure continues. The second half handles it better, though it still requires multiple hours of this before things change.

In addition to hitting the same beats, the early game is rather bland. Not only will you see the same items, but the first hour or so is also more suspense than anything. A room might have something ominous on the wall, a chair will briefly move, and a Child’s laughter will echo throughout the mansion. It makes progression a slog, something the rather rudimentary puzzles do nothing to alleviate.

Master Lock Quality

Take the combination lock puzzle. While I wouldn’t be against grabbing a notch decoder and defeating it like the Lock Picking Lawyer, players are instead told to “look around.” Initially, items like the fox painting can be found around the room, shifting to the second image once the first objective is completed. With that, the number six is clearly visible, quickly revealing the code. Most puzzles play out a similar way or rely on similarly simple tactics.

Despite being relatively weak in several areas, it is a nice-looking adventure. Bloober Team did a good job modernizing it. Certain elements, such as warped wood or visual scares, were handled well. I also greatly appreciated collectibles having voice-overs to get the full impact of every note.

Layers of Fear Review Verdict

Layers of Fear: At its core, Layers of Fear is a rather generic survival horror experience. Most of your adventure will be exploring locations for clues or solving rather basic puzzles. Eventually, you meet hostile forces; they're more annoying than scary. For these reasons, it's probably worth it if you love the genre, but you might want to look into something else for everyone else. Mark

von 10

[Editor’s Note: Layers of Fear was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided for review purposes.]

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