Peel back the Layers of Fear Review
Today we dive deep within the 2016 Psychological horror Layers of Fear developed by Bloober Team. The game itself it’s available on all Platforms (Linux, Windows, OS X, PS4, XB1), however, it is currently free to all Xbox Live Gold Members for the month of March.
The story begins as you arrive home to your Victorian Mansion to find out that you had yet, another alcohol fueled night and forgot to lock your studio. The game is pretty sluggish at first, setting the scene of a struggling painter trying to complete his next masterpiece, while mental illness haunts him with harsh memories of what happened to himself and his family. You begin to explore rooms and corridors that mess with your perception of in-game reality, your surroundings are constantly in motion once you enter an area; doors disappear, the room can shift and your reality is twisted.
Each layer you uncover seems to dive deeper into the bizarre hallucinations of the artisan’s past, there are 6 chapters within the story, many different types of items to find to help complete the painter’s masterpiece. While exploring the mansion you also uncover objects that explain the secrets of the painter’s life, his alcoholism and also his mental state.
One thing I disliked, the game has a lot of furniture drawers to interact with and explore (there is even an achievement for opening 100 of them), however, most of the collectibles that are interactive have an audio cue when you are near, or are required to pick up to queue the next puzzle sequence of the room, therefore searching endlessly through every object renders useless overall.
The game itself it’s more of a psychological thriller over a horror, it does lack an overall built up into one intense scare, instead, it has a lot of little scares with some intense visual and mental moments thrown in throughout the chapters. The decision and paths you have taken along the way, outlines which of the three endings you will face in the end. My personal play-through, I experienced what is know as the Neutral ending where the artist seems to have been painting the same portrait for years trying to perfect it, but because of his mental state, he only sees it as a disfigured mess.
Overall I did enjoy the first person exploration and puzzle-solving within the game. I am not scared easily, however, this game managed to frighten me a couple times, most of it was a highly enjoyable terror, similar to walking through a haunted house on Halloween. It does start off a bit slow at first, sometimes becoming slightly predictable, but then the game manages to completely re-shift your perception built into an overall enjoyable nightmare.