Today I’m an artist in a mansion with a limp. Layers of Fear is a first person “walking simulator.” This implies I walk around and explore the environment for three plus hours and call it entertainment. However, for what it’s worth Layers of Fear does its job right with keeping things simple.
With this in mind let us break it down Barney style:
Layout – Layers of Fear for the most part takes place in a mansion which we find out in no time is haunted. Thanks to the instantaneous slam of a piano cover. At first I thought it was cool throughout each room, leads to other rooms which don’t necessarily logically connect. Or something changes significantly within said room or rooms, or hallways. The only problem is how the consistency of this abnormal becomes the normality within the game and nothing in this aspect changes. The only moment which fucked my world up was the last segment when I thought I made it to the art room and the game said, “Psych!” Thus another 15 minutes later and I made it to the real art room.
Story – Well, apparently we’re finding out things are weary in the mansion, and for what reason…. We find out as we travel through each room. Though not a high priority within the game. The major story arch is finding papers within the mansion and reading what happened. However, this isn’t heavily forced upon us. Within the art studio, our safe haven, there’s a little book with photos and scraps of paper which are collectable. Out of the 5-8 pages I think I filled it with like four pieces. Which didn’t necessarily alter my experience. However it made me realize the game does have some kind of ‘completion status’ much like Batman. By the time I was through, I walked back into the art studio and like a loop we start all over again. Go figure….
Sure enough over all, the story is about a murdered wife and child and we are here to figure out what happened.
Performance – It took me a moment to realize the game is very basic bitch with performance. However, the thing about this game is about two segments into this game I was under the impression my character could be killed. However, about halfway through I realized nothing has killed me off… Logically, I CAN’T BE KILLED! This is when I realized I could snap into my Super Mario mentality and just run the levels. Why not? At a moment there was an illusion of surviving. Surviving from what!? The only few times I’ve ever experienced a “you’re dead, try again” status was in a hallway with some specter. I thought I was supposed to just hard charge towards it. Apparently not. But there wasn’t even an originality to this. I literally had a “Bet you wish this was Silent Hills P.T.” Because the moment is literally the same. Furthermore, gravity kills… I fell off more cliffs than I could count.
Overall, Layers of Fear is a fun indie game. It does play safe, in concept of every trick in the book is used. From jump scares, music stings and lack of story arch with or without the hidden papers throughout the mansion. The overall experience is running around a mansion. Interacting with said environment and waiting for the game to recognize I did something to forward the game to the next phase. So if you’re looking for a campy video game with horror. Roll with Layers of Fear. If you’re looking for something original, you wont find it here because Silent Hills P.T. did it first.