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Layers of Fear Review

Layers of Fear Review

Six years ago, I entered the mansion of a famous yet tormented painter that had seemingly lost his artistic touch — along with his mind, in the disturbing first-person psychological horror game Layers of Fear (2016). Blooper Team had created a story that has stuck with me for years, so I was excited to see what twisted and horrifying things awaited me in this new remaster.

LayersofFear pallette

The original Layers of Fear was released in 2016 but it is not the only title you will find here in this game. Layers of Fear 2, along with the DLC titles The Inheritance and The Final Note, are included alongside the never-before-told story of The Writer that ties all these separate stories together. Before, you needed to face the inner demons of only one creative mind, but now you step into the shoes of four different characters: The Painter, The Painter’s Daughter, The Musician, and The Actor. You will also play as The Writer of the overarching story, but that is only there to connect together all the other characters, not be a standalone tale. These tell of people whose ambitions, dreams, and desires drove them to the depths of madness where reality, delusion, and obsession intertwine and have damaged those around them. 

LayersofFear writerstory

The first thing you will notice is how beautiful this game is. It was recreated using Unreal Engine 5 graphics for the newest consoles and is truly stunning. Each story takes you to an eerie and haunted locale: a lighthouse, a cruise ship, and a run-down mansion. The mansion you explore as the painter looks incredibly realistic with wood grain textures and vibrant Victorian-era paintings where you can see the brushstrokes that work together to create grotesque and graphic images as you progress in the game. You can see how these hauntings are happening because of the choices made by the characters and their misdeeds. When you begin the game, you are greeted with a sensitive content warning: there are a lot of disturbing and messed up things that occur in this game, so if you have sensitivities with the topics they list, it may be best to avoid Layers of Fear. There are a lot of nasty things here that I would consider to be nightmare fuel, or at least disturbing enough that you wouldn’t forget about it any time soon.

LayersofFear warning

To dial up the terror, mix in the incredible binaural sound. The game developers recommended that you wear headphones while playing for optimal audio quality; this creates an incredibly immersive feeling. You hear every little creak in the wooden floor, the never-ending rain and thunder, along with screams and crying from a child. It was so tense at moments that I couldn’t tell if I was hearing the main character's heartbeat or my own in the headphones! 

LayersofFear finishit

Layers of Fear does a great job leading you to where you need to go next by locking doors that you currently don’t need access to. This doesn’t mean that they won’t open at any point, but some will need you to find keys to get through. At times when you walk into a room and turn around, the whole area has transformed into something completely new, like a hallway that wasn’t there or a new door that has appeared. It is very easy to get disoriented and confused, especially when you don’t have a map. In one area, it doesn’t matter which door you go out, you are always led back into this one same place and will continue to be until you solve the puzzle of that room. Some puzzles will require you to move objects like chairs around, and others need you to place something like a candle in the right spot. For others, there are combination locks that you have to solve, you can find the number written on scraps of paper that you will pick up, and the game will show you where exactly in the code that number is placed, which will save you a ton of guessing time.

LayersofFear combinationlock

Layers of Fear is essentially a walking simulator at its core, where all you need to do is pick up stuff to look at, open doors, and walk a lot! It may sound bland, but I assure you it is not. The controls of the game worked great as you are primarily using the control stick to move and the one button along with the right thumbstick to open doors and drawers; with minimal actions to perform, it's pretty hard to mess up the controls. Layers of Fear is more of an experience than just a game. You watch these lives unravel while you take in the madness and the horrible things that await your character. I don’t care what you say… dismembered dolls are always freaky! There are a few new things for you to do In this new version of Layers of Fear. When you encounter wraiths — angry spirits — there is a way to fight back. You now have a lantern that you can use to make them vanish, giving you a chance to escape before they return. Or there will be objects that look like they are covered with a bubbling slime that, if you shine your lantern on it and concentrate the light, the item will burst into frames revealing a key or a previously hidden path that you can now access.  

LayersofFear chairs

When I originally played the game, I had completed my first playthrough in eight hours, but now with the addition of the other stories, the gameplay time is greatly expanded. Though I do have to say that I found the story of The Painter the most interesting, I’m not sure if it is similar to the game that I had played before, or if it is because I have painted in real life, so when they spoke about different techniques I connected with it more. I thought playing through the stories of all the characters was interesting and definitely worth playing, especially since each was tense and suspenseful in its own way. I was concerned that since I had played through the original game, this title would be the exact same thing, just prettier. Some of the areas felt familiar, but a lot of the story was changed, making this a totally new experience.  

LayersofFear dollarm

Layers of Fear is not full of jump scares like you may expect, but it is a psychological horror game that will truly disturb you. Once again, like its predecessor, I was creeped out by the dark twists in this story. If you like horror titles that are truly scary and not just gory, this is a title you are going to want to check out. The developer has done a great job at telling the stories of people so taken over by their passion for their art that they have been willing to sacrifice everything to achieve their goals. Even if you have played the previous titles in this series, the remaster version of Layers of Fear is worth checking out with all the additional content that is included!

LayersofFear chaptermode

9.00/10 9

Layers of Fear (2023) (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Layers of Fear is truly a disturbing experience that even players of the previous titles need to check out. With the gorgeous Unreal Engine 5 graphics and the amazing binaural sound, this is a game that has to be played.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alana Dunitz

Alana Dunitz

Staff Writer

Lover of all games, old and new!

COMMENTS

sekin18842
sekin18842 - 10:35pm, 7th July 2023

Intresting article, thanks

Reply