LAYERS OF FEAR
By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on February 23. 2016
Okay, I think I won’t be able to sleep a wink for the next three days. If you hear someone scream like a baby, it might just be me because I’ve just finished the self-proclaimed “psychedelic horror" game Layers of Fear by Bloober Team and Aspyr. And I must say that if it’s horror you want, it’s horror you’ll get!
Layers of Fear takes you on a spine-chilling journey through a big, strange, creepy mansion. When you start the game the rooms in this house just look old and a bit mysterious, nothing more. But as you progress through the game, things start to get more and more spooky quite fast. Once I was inside there were no real instructions, but the game is quite self-explanatory and I soon got the hang of moving about rooms and interacting with objects. Basically, when you look around, an icon will appear over a particular object, indicating that you can interact with it.
The gameplay itself is smooth, works fine and is very simple; you’ll only need to use five buttons. I especially loved the fact that the developers let you imitate the movement you would make in real life. To open doors, you’ll have to grab the door with the right trigger (I played the Xbox One version) and then open the door with the right thumb stick. Later on you also have to imitate different movements when opening drawers and dialing a phone number on a rotary dial phone.
Pretty soon, I discovered the workshop of a painter that used to live in the house. I entered his domain and there I discovered a little book, an easel and a closet with six locked doors. The book was empty, I couldn’t open the locks and the easel was almost blank, except for two red spatters of paint. There was nothing left to do for me here, so I went back through the door I used to enter the workshop. It was at this point that I knew this was going to be a freaky, scary game. Because when I entered the workshop, the room from which I came was a dining/living room. But when I went back through the same door, the room had turned into a hallway!
This is what happens a lot of times; rooms will change, even when you standing in them. Doors will appear or disappear again and objects will change position. As you progress, your environment will start to look more dark and worn. Graphics-wise, Layers of Fear is a cool-looking game; I wasn’t blown away by face melting graphics, but it sure looks good! The environments are filled with little details and, first and foremost, look exactly like what you’d expect a horror game to look like: grim, dark and mysterious.
To progress through the creepy story of Layers of Fear, you’ll need to solve puzzles. I think the developers chose to offer you a horror experience with some puzzling involved, but make the puzzles serve the story, which I personally think is a good thing. I hate it when puzzles take you hours to solve, completely sucking you out of the story. I don’t want to spoil all the puzzle fun, but I cannot help but give you one example: There I was, in a square hall way. The doors had vanished, so I started walking in circles (or squares, to be precise). I heard a phone ringing, but the sound wasn’t quite right. After a while I came to the conclusion that the sound of the phone I was hearing sounded like it was played backwards. So I turned round and started walking in the opposite direction and presto! I could continue my game.
I was amazed by the sheer intricacy of the puzzles in Layers of Fear. And, as I said earlier, I was especially glad that they didn’t detract from the story. I must admit that I played this game in the safety of my blankets-and-pillows couch fortress in broad daylight. And yet, even the protection of my pillows and blankets or the watery sun shining outside, couldn’t prevent me from screaming in fear from time to time. I never said the phrase “Oh my God" that many times in one day.
Needless to say Layers of Fear managed to scare the living hell out of me, while being a thoroughly enjoyable game every step of the way. It is everything you’d expect from a horror game/experience and I loved every bit of it. I guess the next challenge for me would be to play the game as the developers recommended: “For the utmost enjoyment, I'd recommend you turn off the lights, grab some headphones or a nice surround-sound system... and maybe a nice blanket to hold on to."
Blankets... check! The rest... hell no!