Layers of Fear (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 11.05.2016 1

Review for Layers of Fear on PC

Survival horror has, in recent years, been a few variations of the same things. Amnesia invited us to run for our lives, hoping beyond all hope to learn the secrets we needed to escape. Slender asked for a lot of the same, but also asked players to be even more aware of their surroundings. Layers of Fear seems to be digging for a deeper meaning, but can it be anything more than a prettier version of what gamers have already seen?

Layers of Fear is, if nothing else, a beautiful-looking game. The attention to detail in even the smallest things, like a wall crevice or a tarp, is awe inspiring. Even the rainstorm outside your not-so-humble abode looks beautiful, almost lifelike, as it smacks against the window pane. Exploring the corridors of your wretched mind is fantastic when this place feels so real.

The story is one of obsession, and rings very personal. All of us have had an obsession that has driven others away from us, and this game absolutely nails the kind of loneliness that comes with said obsession. While the messages within the game are often too cryptic to really grasp the nature of this self-isolation, the person the player embodies feels all too real, even in the most uncomfortable of ways. Too often, gamers expect games to just be fun, over-the-top experiences, and they forget that sometimes, it can be nice to feel other emotions.

Screenshot for Layers of Fear on PC

Sound effects are generally sparse here, instead making way for the almost easy listening piano soundtrack. From time to time, the piano becomes almost drone-like, which further widens the feeling of uncomfortable dread that permeates Layers of Fear. This game is clearly an exercise in atmospheric horror, and one that does a sublime job of setting up that atmosphere. It's such a shame that the horror never really shows up.

The level of interactivity is commendable, but also something gamers have seen before. Using the mouse to pull open a door is immersive, but not in any new or exciting ways. The player is mostly left to explore the corridors for keys or lock combinations, reading through notes in what have become rudimentary adventure game mechanics. Even when exploring the house, cheap parlour tricks are used in lieu of anything genuinely scary. Entering a room and solving its puzzles leads to the corridors rearranging, in an effort to throw the player off-course. What it manages, however, is a vague moment of "Ooo," followed by trekking through to the next destination. The game's short run time manages to keep this from becoming too tedious, but all too often, you may be searching for more of something that simply isn't there.

Screenshot for Layers of Fear on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Beautiful setpieces and a great atmosphere don't make up for the same old gameplay. While it doesn't need to reinvent the wheel, Layers of Fear should at least aim to do the same old thing as well as it can. It would seem that "as well as it can" is very much a "means justify the ends" approach, and the ends are stale mechanics done just well enough that they work.

Developer

Bloober Team SA

Publisher

Aspyr

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

"Moment of 'Ooo'" is my new favourite phrase for describing an inept horror moment.

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