October, that wonderful time of year when the weather starts to cool and scary movies start to pop up on television and on the main page of streaming services! To celebrate this month and the upcoming Halloween holiday, I have decided to take a look at some games in the horror genre. This time I will be taking a look at Layers of Fear an art-themed horror game released by Bloober Team in 2016.
In Layers of Fear you take up the role of an unnamed male artist (painter) returning home to your empty Victorian mansion, in order to work on crafting your masterpiece. With one ill-fitting prosthetic leg, you clomp about the house with a slightly uneven gait. As you explore the house, things begin to become more decayed, and increasingly odd events occur.
Layers of Fear is heavily about the story, so I will avoid going into details and spoiling anything. The gameplay boils down to a horror-themed walking simulator, with a few puzzles. Though, in some respects the game itself is a puzzle, in that the choices you make impact how the game ends.
You can manipulate objects in a similar fashion to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, our second entry in this series. Opening cabinets and drawers may lead you to find notes that you can read to glean snippets of backstory, or you can find items that provide story via voice-over “memories.” Like many games in this genre, you are unarmed and there is no real combat to speak of.
Outside of story, the game is about atmosphere. It bills itself as a “psychedelic horror” game, though I’m not sure that they didn’t mean psychological horror and something got lost in the translation. There are some fairly weird things that happen, so maybe psychedelic is an apt moniker.
The music and artwork for the game are both well done, as you would hope for in a game where art is a central theme. The voice acting is also competently done. My only real complaint would be that the sound effects are just painful in a couple of places. They’re meant to be disturbing, but it just hurts your ears
The game is relatively short, especially if you are playing off of a guide. However, it can be very time consuming to try to figure out how to achieve all of the game’s endings without help. I personally suggest playing through it at least once before looking anything up. The game can get quite repetitive if you are trying to figure out how to get all of the endings without looking anything up.
Overall, I give Layers of Fear a “B” rating, or 7.5/10 stars. It’s a solid horror experience, though it does rely on some jump-scares and camera tricks. There is a VR version of the game, if you have the hardware and want to enhance the experience. It may be worth waiting for it to go on sale during the multiple big Steam sales each year.
If you want to check out Layers of Fear, you can find it on Steam here. It currently has a Very Positive rating on that platform. And, to state the obvious, this game is not appropriate for small children.