Layers of Fear is a first person horror walking simulator in the vein of P.T., the playable teaser for Silent Hills before it was canceled. This is a psychological thriller that is a lot less of a game than an interactive work of art, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s important to remember when going into this game that it is basically a horror themed walking simulator and not an action or survival game. With that in mind; if you enjoy horror and being creeped out or scared you will enjoy this experience.
Without giving away spoilers I’ll try to sum up the basic premise of the game. You are a schizophrenic artist who has returned home to work on his magnum opus. Throughout the game you will delve deeper and deeper into your own twisted mind while finding clues which help to shed some light on the tragic history of this family. The entire game takes place in a victorian style mansion which is dripping with atmosphere. Every corner has something lurking in the shadows, each door has forbidden secrets behind it.
The most notable thing about this game is how well it uses psychology to add a true sense of dread. Not only is the theme macabre, but the gameplay makes the player feel dread as well. The way it does this is pretty incredible to be honest. The entire time you play the game you are constantly moving forward with no way to go back. As you explore the rooms and hallways actually change as you go. If you pass a door by you probably won’t be able to go back and check an area you think you missed. Although not outwardly terrifying, it does play a psychological role on the mind of the player since “missing something” in a game is a true fear of most gamers. This mechanic is such a natural part of the game that it’s barely a noticeable feature but so brilliantly implemented that I have to commend the developers.
The visuals are stunning throughout the game. The further you progress the more twisted the world becomes around you. And because of the fluid nature of the level design it’s hard to tell sometimes if things changed a little or it’s just in your head. In fact you will question yourself from time to time and wonder if the game is changing things or if it’s just in your head. You won’t even trust your own eyes at times which really immerses you into the main character. Add some of the best audio design I’ve heard in a horror game and you have a masterpiece of interactive horror that the artist himself (the main character of the game) so desperately tries to create.
Although not a long game, I believe it took us about 3 1/2 hours to complete the story, it is definitely a worthwhile experience I recommend to any horror fans. There isn’t a lot of replay value but there is more than one ending and you do have to play through the game more than once to get the final ending. One thing that we noticed is that the chapters seem to have little changes through them when playing each time. A friend was playing and found a gun in the first chapter on his second play through. But he found the same gun in a different place and different chapter during his first play through. I never found the gun at all. There are other subtle differences that make you second guess yourself and make a second or even third play through worth it.
Psychological Horror That Hits Home
- Replay Value
Disclosure: We were provided a code for 1 review copy of this game. The opinions of this review are based on the actual content and some of the thoughts on this game came from players who did purchase the game themselves.