Since the release of the Playable Teaser for Sillent Hills, and the unfortunate cancellation of this promising project, many developers have tried to recreate the vision and atmosphere of that game. Some will say that Layers of Fear is that type of game, but in my opinion this game struggled to be original and in many aspects it succeded. In this review I will try to share my experience and explain why this game broke some new grounds.
Let’s start with the graphics.They are fine, but don’t expect something groundbreaking in this area. I really like the artistic direction, which I think that really catches the anxiety and melancholia of the game. It also runs pretty well, during my playtrough I didn’t experience any tehnical issues. They really knew what they wanted to express with their visuals and they nailed this aspect. Now let’s say some words about the sound. It is really one of the main atributes of this game that plays an important part in the immersion of the gamer. There many sections in the game when you have to guide yourself after some sounds which are very well done. Also the subtle music is very suitable for the scenery of this game. So the mix between the sound and art direction draws a disturbing atmosphere.
Next I’ll speak about the gamemplay. It is pretty basic, you walk, open doors, inspect objects and ocasionally solve puzzles. Some of the puzzles felt a little bit forced and uninspired but there have also been some good ones. Don’t expect to hide or fight any monsters because this title is not a survival horror game.The gameplay mechanics serve well the ideas that the developer Bloober Team tried to polish and deliver.
The strongest points of this game are the story and the atmosphere. I will take my time and try to explain those aspects because they define what type of game Layers of Fear is. So as I said before it is very important not to go into this game expecting a typical horror experience. This game is just not frightening in the classical way. It really explores fear at a psychological level so don’t expect your heart rate to raise too much, instead expect to dive into the madness of the main characters mind. You play as a painter who reaches a moment in his life when he can’t escape from his past. For me, the house was a symbol of the regression of the main character’s mind. Throughout the game you’ll notice that the environment is constantly shifting just like the mind of our painter who can’t repress his painful memories. For example, you’ll see a child’s drawing of his happy family and the next moment it changes into a darker and more disturbing one. This really makes you realise that no matter how much you try, you can’t hide from your past. So yes, this game might not have monsters that will jump scare you but instead it dives deeper into the layers of fear, just as the title suggests. It makes mental states the main reason to be afraid, and it really works out. Unfortunately, the game has some cliches and tries to jump scare you a few times. Those moments felt forced, unnecessary and didn’t helped the whole experience to become what it was meant to. The story also treats other themes such as the sacrifices of an artist when it comes to the act of creation. So the game tries to make you feel confused and anxious while you escape reality into a realm where to be insane is the most normal thing that you can do.
Layers of Fear had the courage to aproach a more complex type of horror. It embodies at the same time the complexity and the fragility of the human mind. It delivers fear not in a way that will make you jump off your seat, but in a way that will stay with you for long after you finish the game. So if you want to experience a different type of horror, Layers of Fear is a great choice and you should give it a try.
Final Opinion: GOOD (Shite, Cash-Grab, Mediocre, Good, Excellent)