Layers of Fear

Layers of Fear

Someone please hire the talented developers at Bloober Team to work as a small part of a larger project. If left to their own devices, they just mash together well-made horror setpieces without sense or rhythm. Case in point: Layers of Fear, a game with the level design of Antichamber, the imagery of P.T., and the interface of Amnesia without the correct context for any of them. Most importantly, while the game is all about non-Euclidean nightmare logic, it doesn’t realize that bad dreams are scary because you don’t immediately know they’re dreams. It’s obvious very quickly that the events in Layers of Fear aren’t literally happening, draining away much of the horror value. Eventually, the jump scares become so predictable, combined with a laissez-faire approach to player death, that it almost becomes comedic.

It’s actually more enjoyable to absorb the paranoid, surreal atmosphere and ignore the overt attempts to shock. The developers’ chosen instruments are astonishingly clichéd – including dolls, paintings, phonographs, etc. – but they’re also extensive and reliable. The story strikes a solid balance of concrete and inconclusive, and the many ways that rooms and items can move, appear, or disappear when you’re not looking never cease to impress from a technical perspective. Even the mouse-based item manipulation becomes more appropriate in this context, as it now feels like trying to appreciate every detail of the environment, rather than asking your psychological hell to take a break while you explore every drawer of a desk. The visuals and audio are probably the only things of consistent quality regardless of how you play – the former is always excellent, and the latter is always sub-par.

 

5.5/10
5.5/10

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