Title: Layers of Fear

Platform: Steam, Windows, OS X, Linux, PS4, Xbox One

Reviewed on: PS4

Genre: Horror

Players: Single player



Written by Whistler 13th March 2016



















I’ll confess that despite my adoration for the horror genre, it feels that it has long since turned stagnant in today’s modern gaming scene. Many developers have forgotten or just simply can’t seem to recreate the same effect older titles like the original Silent Hill, Clock Tower or Project Zero did before them. These days many seem to either rely far too much on jump scares or try to filter it through action oriented gameplay; in doing so they have forgotten how to paint the perfect horror.

Alas despite enjoying my experience with Layers of Fear it seems to have fallen for the same mistakes, but is there an art to it’s brushstrokes or is it just another wasted canvas?


“A way to bring back what life took from me, the only precious thing.”

As a troubled 19th century artist you return to your studio with this as your only goal, in order to complete your ‘magnum opus’ you’ll traverse the victorian mansion and your very recesses of your subconscious. The game is split into six chapters, each with the goal of obtaining an object in order to complete the painting. While I’m perfectly fine for a strong linear experience, Layers of Fear’s experience is borderline on-rails. It becomes so predictable that I could barely hold any motivation progressing through each chapter. Quickly it’s made obvious that the artist is troubled by past events with his family and how his art was affected by them but sadly narrative feels entirely secondary to Layers of Fear’s “main attraction”.

Some of the greatest horrors (in my personal opinion of course) that I’ve experienced have utilized narrative techniques to amplify the effects of the tension that comes with the scares.


























Layers of Fear completely forgoes this for a carnival ride utilizing it’s only strength. You’re perspective is constantly played with as the rooms remain in constant flux, shifting environments outside of your vision. Paintings move, paths are block and doors move as the game attempts to ferry you through its repetitious spectacles. Moments to breath are few and far between so what was already struggling to scare me served to only frustrate and bore me.

Any of sense of dread or suspense is shattered with Layers of Fear’s predictable barrage.


It doesn’t help that while environments have a sharp clean design, the slightest amount of movement near the overwhelming majority of the objects would have the PS4 chugging a subpar 20fps. This would constantly break any attempt at immersion and became especially occurrent towards the game’s final stretch.

























  

Layers of Fear simply fails to exceed in any field, narrative is spread thinly throughout various notes and audio flashbacks so it just failed to draw my attention. There’s certainly some creativity on occasions with the imagery but just throws so much at the player it becomes white noise, failing to learn the balance needed to raise the tension. A masterpiece requires several finely painted layers, despite some creative visuals this horror game only throws on one heavy brush stroke after the other.



Pros:

Creative visual tricks,

Interesting use of the PS4 controller speakers.


Cons:

Plagued with framerate drops,

Forgettable dialogue and narrative,

Barrages the player with mediocre jump scares,

Overstays it’s welcome.



Final verdict,

Layers of Fear paints a forgettable score of 6/10.

 

Written by,

Whistler

 

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