Summary: Delve deep into the mind of an insane painter and discover the secret of his madness, as you explore a vast and constantly changing Victorian-era mansion. Uncover the visions, fears and horrors that entwine the painter and finish the masterpiece he has strived so long to create.
Developer: Bloober Team
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Layers of Fear is a new first-person psychological horror/walking simulator game from Bloober Team. Now before you read that developer name and let it scare you off I’ll say right away that Layers of Fear is so much better than their previous game Brawl so give the game a chance. Layers of Fear places you the player in control of an insane painter. The game takes place in a old Victorian mansion where you will have to explore and put together what has driven this man mad.
The Mansion in Layers of Fear serves as a fantastic and spooky setting for the game. The dark and tight corridors drives home the horror feeling and the the place is huge. Yes the game is a walking simulator and for some that term immediately makes them lose interest in a game but Layers of Fear always keeps the players attention. Everything in the game is so well detailed that you’ll always be looking forward to what you’ll find next in this mansion. The other cool thing about the layout of the mansion is that it is always changing. You may walk down a hallway to a dead end only to turn around and find that you’re now in a room. It’s a really cool feature of the game and one of my favorite parts about it.
Now of course the game is a horror game so you can expect lots of jump scares throughout your playtime. At first some of them work pretty well but over the course of the 5-6 hour experience they grow old. You quickly realize when one is about to happen and that hurts the experience. It would have been nice if the developer tried some different ways to surprise the player rather than relying on the same old things over and over. There is also no way to die in the game so you never have that fear either.
To piece together the story in the game you’ll enter rooms and pick up different objects like letters written to you, newspaper clippings, pictures, and more. I figured out pretty early on what was going on in the game but still enjoyed putting it all together. Going back to the changing rooms they too help tell the story in instances by changing to match something you may have just read. The voice acting I felt was average and could have been better but it doesn’t hurt the game too much. The game also has multiple endings so you’ll have a reason to go back and play it some more even after you finish it the first time.
The music and sound design in the game is another great part about it. This is a game you most certainly want to play with the lights off and headphones on to get the most out of it. Every little noise from the wooden floor under your feet to something falling and breaking behind you helps set the mood and immerse the player more in this world. I got a shiver down my spine plenty of times just from the excellent sound design in Layers of Fear.
I mentioned how detailed everything is in the game but due to the game running on the Unity engine it does have issues. The game suffers from framerate and stuttering issues that hurt my experience with it. This was playing on the PS4 version so I don’t know how it is on the other platforms but it’s probably the same. I also encountered a weird bug at the beginning of the game when it teaches you how to open and interact with something. You are supposed to press or hold R2 to interact with an object but the game wasn’t registering that I was pressing it. I thought I was unable to open the first door in the game but switching to a different controller fixed the problem for some reason.
Layers of Fear is a good game for those who want to immersive themselves in a creepy and well designed atmosphere. The game always keeps your attention and is one of the creepiest games I’ve played in awhile. That said the technical issues and over reliance on jump scares hurts my experience with the game. Bloober Team has crafted a much better game on PS4 this time out and if you enjoy Horror games you should check it out.
+ Awesome atmosphere and great detail
+ Great Sound Design
+ Level layout that is constantly changing
– Technical and Framerate issues that hurt the experience
– Scares grow old after awhile and don’t work
– Average voice acting
*All Photos were taken in game using the Share Button on the Dualshock 4