GAME REVIEW | Tension At Its Finest in "Layers of Fear" Collection
It took me awhile to trust Bloober Team. After all, my first experience with them was with 2014’s Basement Crawl, a Bomberman-like action game that was too broken for me to even write a review about it! Yet in just a couple of years, the developers redeemed themselves with Layers of Fear, which brought a terrific level of unease to the horror game genre. Seven years later, the entire Layers of Fear tale is now being told, in a way that showcases Bloober Team as the right fellows to be remaking Silent Hill 2.
This version of Layers of Fear includes everything from both the first game and its sequel. Players can revisit the tales of the Painter and Actor, as their narratives dive deep into these characters’ psyches and actions. New to the world of this game is The Writer, whose tale about writing in an abandoned lighthouse ties the first two games’ stories together. And as usual, there are twists and turns around every corner.
One of the things that drew me into the game is its overall presentation. While there is a jump scare here and there, Layers of Fear isn’t about terrifying players with what you can see. Rather, it’s about the emotional aspect of these characters and stories, as their actions unfold in a fashion that’s simply eye-catching. Wherever I roamed — be it the mansion, cruise, or lighthouse — a feeling of terror was always lingering in my heart.
Whether it’s The Painter, The Actor, or The Writer, the stories that are told here found ways to pull me into their worlds every time. What begins as tales of mental torture transform into something more grotesque. When you start putting two-and-two together and realize what’s actually happening, it’s becomes far too late to turn back from the madness. All one can do is keep on moving forward and continue to fuel the insanity that unfolds.
How the madness continues is how you handle certain puzzles. Finding pieces of a painting or keys to rooms will take some keen eyes to seek, but it’s when you have to think outside the box to move on when things get very interesting. In one instance, I found myself in a room with an empty canvas. It’s when I started to look through the canvas when I was greeted with one surprise after another, with a satisfying feeling in my gut after solving the puzzle.
That’s where I guess I can mention the game’s main flaw: nothing is hinted as to what you’re supposed to do. It takes a lot of detective work at times in order to solve a single puzzle in Layers of Fear. In a couple of instances, I was in either the mansion or cruise trying to figure how how to move on, with me cluelessly looking around for 15-20 minutes. Only when I was hit with the answer out of the blue did I either groan with frustration or slap myself silly over not seeing it in the first place!
Where Bloober Team impresses is in its level layout. I was always on my toes whenever I entered a new area, with my mind blown when the room behind me either vanished completely or was replaced with a new realm to explore. I’m not sure what sort of technical work went into it, but it never failed to wow me when I was greeted with a new surrounding out of the blue. Hell, the quick changes even gave me a jolt or two at times, as it’s done so in a very unpredictable way.
A remastering could’ve simply been done, but Bloober Team went all out with this new version of Layers of Fear. Rebuilt from the ground up, the game recreates its terrifying atmosphere with cinematic-level visuals. There were times where I felt like I was experiencing a movie instead of a video game, with the mansion, cruise, and lighthouse beaming with realism at around every corner. Adding to the tension is Arek Keikowski’s gorgeous soundtrack, with every melody played feeling like knife slowly carving through your back.
As for the new content, The Writer’s story does a good job bringing the whole narrative together. With that being said, it could’ve been a little longer to justify its overall existence. Clocking in at just under an hour, its length may make those who had bought the original two games feel like they were gypped. However, those who never played Layers of Fear before will find this version to be the best value.
- Features the entire narrative
- Delivers uneasiness at around every corner of the game
- Gorgeous visuals, haunting soundtrack
- Solving/finding puzzles can be time-consuming
- New content runs short
Layers of Fear is just as frightening as it was when it first arrived in 2016. Remade from the ground up, Bloober Team showcases why they’ve become the top dogs in the psychological horror realm of video games. If you’re in the mood to have your spine tingled with some dark tales of woe, then Layers of Fear will give you plenty of spooks for your cents.