Layers of Fear Review
When the playable trailer for Silent Hills, the scheduled 10th installment in the horror classic franchise Silent Hill, was released, fans went wild. This was not only because of the nostalgic value of a series that hadn’t released a game since 2012, but because the short teaser provided a gaming style that horror gamers have been long awaiting. The PT offered linear but guideless atmospheric and emotional fear that stepped dramatically away from the Hollywoodesque jump scare. That game has of course since been cancelled, but an exceptional new horror game called Layers of Fear has surfaced and may be the answer horror lovers have been searching for.
Layers of Fear (a perfect pun of a title) invites players to see the world through the mind of a talented but tormented painter as he navigates his abandoned house and his own guilty conscience. The game, published by Aspyr and developed by Bloober Team SA, has been listed on Steam as an early access game for some time, but in February was fully released to the public both on PC and console. So far the game has received very positive reviews, something games in the horror genre usually have to work a little harder to receive since they so often are accused of relying on cheap thrills without paying enough attention to gameplay. Taking notes from the most successful horror titles to come before it, Layers of Fear manages to use classic horror themes in new ways.
As the player explores the mansion, they are given no real introduction to what they are about to face. Thrown into the madness, they learn that they are trying to create a painting and will need to collect various items throughout the house to complete their masterpiece. However, these are not your usual artists’ tools. A grizzly story unfolds as each layer of the house turns out more ghoulish secrets and disturbing messages left to you to find. As the game progresses, the artist appears to be losing his sanity altogether, while in reality, the truth is only becoming more and more apparent, and the true nature of the house is revealed. With a rich story, frightening visual symbolism, and a knack for scaring the pants off of you, Layers of Fear tells a story that wraps you up in its nightmare.
Addictive and interesting, the story of Layers of Fear pulls you in but it’s the scares that will keep you playing. Sure, there are a few jump scares here and there because what kind of horror game would it be without them? But Layers of Fear does something new, that horror fans will appreciate. There are subtle changes in environment that will send chills up your spine without cutscenes or cheap tricks. Even the sound effects contribute to the terrifying atmosphere, from unintelligible whispers to faint music. Most impressively there are three unique endings offered in the game relating to the player’s decisions while moving through the estate. With a ‘good’, ‘bad’, and ‘neutral’ option the player will have re-playability that is not usually featured in atmospheric games of this nature. With a thrilling story, impressive design, and bone-chilling scares that will make you afraid to leave the lights off, Layers of Fear brings a high quality of horror gaming to the table that players won’t be able to resist….no matter how much they may want to.