What parents need to know
Layers of Fear (2023) is a narrative psychological horror game that brings together Layers of Fear 1 (2016) and Layers of Fear 2 (2019) into a complete and definitive story updated with the visual technology and performance of Unreal Engine 5 and the addition of expansions and new narratives to tie game experiences together. It is therefore a remastered version of the first games, with additional content in order to tie everything into one ultimate game. The game features several different narratives and the player takes turns playing as different characters, allowing them to learn more about the story and make connections between events. This latest installment in the Layers of Fear series focuses on the story of the artist’s wife. Just like the other games in the series, this last game offers different endings depending on the actions taken and the objects collected by the player.
The game takes place in several environments, including a ship, a maze, an old lighthouse thanks to the writer’s brand new story, and the artist’s large Victorian house, which was in the early games. The environments change shape and evolve according to the illusions and madness crippling the characters. For example, it may feel like you’re going around in circles, walking through a door that leads to different places every time you open it, or using the artist’s paintings as portals altogether. It can also happen that the room you are in changes when you come back to take another look or that it transforms when you turn your back on part of the room. The game relies heavily on the terrifying psychological aspect and the atmosphere to scare the player. The goal of the game is to solve the story by unravelling the narrative thread by playing the different characters, in order to fully understand the story at the end. There are sometimes enemies (spectres) that can be stopped temporarily thanks to the lantern, or times when the player must hide or run in order to avoid being caught by enemies. However, the player is usually quite passive and subject to the horror that unfolds and has little power over the visions that assail him, which forces him to explore and move forward despite the fear. It is worth noting that this game is terrifying and not suitable for children.
The game was provided by the publisher for review. This does not influence our opinion.
Level of experience required
It’s a disturbing horror game, even if there’s little violence. There can be blood and gore. The game is not suitable for children.
There is no nudity or sexual content.
The game requires one to know very well how to read and understand the innuendos and subtleties. To fully enjoy the storylines, you must know how to decipher clues and collectibles.
You have to know how to handle the 3D camera, but otherwise, as there is no combat, it is not necessary to be particularly skilled with the controller or keyboard.
Local game modes
There is only the story mode.
Online Game Modes
There is no online or multiplayer game mode.
This game contains all the levels and expansions of the previous games, there is no need to purchase anything else to enjoy the full game.
The first game was critically acclaimed, the second much less so. However, this last game, thanks to the remastered levels and the addition of new content, allows a new appreciation of Bloober Team’s work. The visual is incredibly terrifying and the story is chilling. It is a must for horror game lovers with a very strong narrative. By the way, if you were excited by the demonstration of the game P.T. (Kojima Productions, 2014) and then disappointed to know that the game would never see the light of day, there is a good chance that you will like Layers of Fear, since the game is directly inspired by the demo of P.T.
The game allows a new foray into the crazy world of tormented artists and offers new points of view, allowing for a much richer narrative. Music and sound effects are a tour de force and the new engine technology of Unreal Engine 5 gives new life to levels that seasoned players may have already experienced while playing the first 2 games. The game is worth it, even if you are one of those who were disappointed by Layers of Fear 2.
However, once you are familiar with the fear mechanics used, it is easy to anticipate the next jumpscare and you are rarely surprised by the crazy house remodels that take place when you turn your back. The puzzles are also very easy and unchallenging. The flashlight/lantern brings an interesting new element that wasn’t in the early games and gives a new mechanic to explore, which is a nice addition.
All in all, it is a wonderful and interesting game, but one that is particularly suitable for lovers of narrative and exploration games, since there is little action and no combat, and the main attraction lies in the variety of levels and stories and in reading the clues left everywhere. If you want to experience the universe of Layers of Fear for the first time, playing this ultimate game is the best way to do it. And at less than $40, it’s really not worth doing without!