Layers of Fear has been in Early Access on Steam for months, and it’s been on Xbox for just as long. Now, we’re just days away from the final launch on all platforms, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what everybody thinks of the game. Bloober Team has created a haunting game that has left me uneasy since I’ve begun playing Layers of Fear.
Layers of Fear is about a painter who has hit a creative block and eventually descended into madness inside his own home. What happens in this Victorian house leaves an unsettling feeling in your stomach as you traverse the home that twists and turns into something supernatural.
The house itself is just as much the star as the painter is. From the creaks of the floor, the whispers that seem to come from nowhere; each new sound I would discover as I slowly made my way through the halls put me in a perpetual state of fight or flight
Bloober Team has done an excellent job of creating this world that can instantly become the stuff of nightmares, the flicker of light, turning around to see behind you, simple actions turn into complex tasks here, and the only option is to push forward through the darkness. They have built a personal hell that felt real to the painter and me. The way the development team arranges the house to the needs of the game is excellent by allowing for an authentic way of making the player feel as if the house is rearranging itself to question my sanity.
The story is there as you proceed, and as you move throughout the house, you are left to explore and discover more about the painter; you will see that our protagonist is both cause and effect of his own demise. There is so much darkness in his life; uncovering why isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be, but boy it sucks.
Clunky controls are an issue here, but nothing that some getting used to won’t fix.
Sound design is executed well here, adding in a layer (ha!) of fear by utilizing the DualShock 4 speaker to bring hushed voices during exploration of the house, adding in a score that is bone-chilling and used sparingly when needed to bring a sense of dread.
A significant issue that needs to be addressed is the framerate. Luckily, Layers of Fear has little more than opening doors or cupboards to do, so the framerate doesn’t affect the gameplay directly but does take away from the experience. Unfortunately, this issue hindered my experience on playthroughs on PlayStation 4.
From start to finish, Layers of Fear has you on the edge of your seat, messes with your sense and leaves an unsettling feeling in your stomach that won’t subside well after you’re finished playing. There is plenty of bizarreness here to make any artist question their sanity.
Layers of Fear doesn’t reinvent the genre but does take what we know and spin it into a competent game that stands on its own thanks to excellent pacing, a creepy score, and genuine scares. While not for everyone, Layers of Fear is worth checking out, framerate aside.