There’s a lot to admire layers of fearthe reinterpretation of the Polish studio Bloober Team (relatively) excellent surreal, psychological adventure horror series.
Developed together with Anshar Studios who have previously helped Bloober expand Science fiction horror observer in 2020 this new version of layers of fear complements the original game from 2016, its DLC, layers of fear 2, a new DLC and story designed to fill in the blanks into a beautiful, complex, decaying rose. But while the series has never looked better –layers of fear was made with Unreal Engine 5– The narrative is constructed and sometimes stifled by its own ambitious subtleties.
My disappointment is poetic. Most of the characters you can choose in the game – the painter, his wife, the musician, the actor and the writer, who is introduced to the series for the first time in this game – suffer from the same disease: they are crushed by impractical goals . Through layers of fearIn the divided chapters, I play each one in the first-person perspective and reconstruct their incriminating past using notes and my own comments.
Letters with names scratched out, sentimental objects found like a cracked conch shell, and a flood of enigmatic voice-overs tell me that the layers of fear The cast has had success in the arts before, and as such they’re determined to keep going, even if their goals seem increasingly unreasonable in the game’s shifting, pitch-black houses. Only boring things can hold her back, earthly things like the brown liquor the artist depends on or the broken skin stretching painfully over the musician’s burned fingers.
But those are temporary setbacks — the splendor of their artistry and genius can’t be contained by something as small and imperfect as a body, the characters suggest. So contact them the rat queenthe villain of the series, which was officially introduced in 2019 layers of fear 2with her long teeth and black marble eyes, and she forces them to follow their supernatural path to greatness.
layers of fear is my favorite running simulator
With the emphasis on piece-by-piece discovery and exploration, there isn’t much typical “gameplay”. layers of fearSo I spend most of my time processing this information. The series has often been referred to, with a little derision, as “a”. “Scary Walking Simulator” And that’s what I do for over ten hours – running and sometimes screaming at sudden noises like dissonant, reverberant piano chords.
There are no options to do much more. As well as walking, I can also run – or more specifically, walk with more DualSense feedback – and pick up items by pressing the right trigger. I can enlarge secret codes and puzzle solutions as they are all changed from their original iterations, and in the layers of fear 2 section I can duck into ventilation slots.
The most significant gameplay adjustment in between layers of fear and previous title is the introduction of a portable light source. It’s not particularly shocking, but it breaks with the show’s tradition of passivity, as the lights are not only practical but also violent. When I press both triggers, my beam becomes a conflagration, and I use it to scorch a new type of puzzle – it appears like a blur, obscuring exits and important items – as well as approaching enemies. For the artist, who does not have electricity in his 1920s palatial home, this means that he shines a glowing gas lantern on visions of my dead wife, who may or may not deserve it, but other characters can use flashlights to to illuminate the rot around them .
Anyway, I don’t mind just walking. The game’s level and puzzle designs are absolutely unpredictable. They’re moving when I’m not looking, and I feel nervous because I don’t know what’s going to happen if I turn around. Will I find a film photo? A severed finger? Am I about to be trapped in a tortuous hallway, locked closet, or bedroom with no windows, keys, or air to breathe?
That’s what matters layers of fear creepy and therefore entertaining. With its redesigned graphics, the game transforms as convincingly as a frightened chameleon. When I look behind this empty picture frame, a door appears. When I start playing this reel of film, a big white moon will descend and enrapture me. Heading toward uncertainty with determination is scary, and layers of fear takes advantage of this and spreads a surging sea wave of unease within me.
But, oh god, the story.
Layers of tangled lore
This makes the game both engaging and delightful: If layers of fear If he were human, he’d live his whole life with his head in his ass. It wants to discover the psychology behind great art somewhere in its changing staircases and endless cellars.
Being a horror game, the interpretation of this psychology is unbearable. I quickly understand that the environments I find myself in are physical manifestations of artists’ circling thoughts and cobweb-like instincts, knotted with metal chains and wet candle wax. A creative mind is an uncomfortable and unsatisfying place, the game tells me, and it really fits the metaphor.
layers of fear regularly references iconic creative works such as The picture of Dorian Gray, fist, The glowand so on, and I’m stunned at how important art is; “Great art comes at a great cost,” reads a note. “To create is to penetrate into chaos,” teaches a speaker. “Chaos is darkness. Warm. Soft. swarm. He got it in the end. Will you?”
Um, not really, to be honest.
Based on his influences, layers of fears demon is the rat queen, which features more prominently in the added author and musician content. But not how Dorian Gray or fistin which men knowingly give up their souls in exchange for sex and knowledge, the characters in layers of fear are traumatized humans who are forced by the Rat Queen to strive for unattainable perfection. As a result, layers of fear is not a cautionary tale about selfishness.
I don’t really know what it is. It points to things I should feel without having to feel them. The most egregious instance of this happening occurs in The Musician DLC, where found journal entries describe their home as a “prison.” Finally, I put a dead songbird back in its cage. Yes, I understand it.
While something like fist mocks the tormented artist and conveys that creative people aren’t necessarily special people, that they can be just as bad as anyone else, layers of fear seems to say that art is uncontrollable. It’s a hungry, magical force, and if a wife, sister, or daughter gets caught in its voracious mouth and bleeds, then fine. So be it.
I have a hard time accepting that. I also think it’s harmful to contextualize art as something dangerous and wild, no matter how reverent it may be layers of fear worded it. Art is not the bogeyman. It’s not the problem – it’s usually the people. Blaming a monster like the Rat Queen seems too easy. That’s a narrative problem I had with layers of fear from the start, and the new writer and musician stories have unfortunately made it a snowball effect.
Still, I’m impressed with Bloober’s fundamental transformation of his series into a compact white rat nightmare. The game is a tour de force, despite fans’ reservations about the studio upcoming Silent Hill 2 reissue, and I admire a game that cares about the art as much as it cares about its characters. I just wish it wasn’t so annoying.