Review – Layers of Fear 2
Layers of Fear (2016) proved that the much-maligned ‘walking simulator’ genre could be scary, with its mix of wildly innovative environmental mischief and jump scares, and Layers of Fear 2 shows the developers at Bloober Team didn’t lose their edge.
Like the original, Layers of Fear 2 is a first-person adventure/horror game that locks you into a location – a mansion in the first game, a cruise ship in this one – and gives you just enough clues to start figuring things out. Players were a tortured artist in the original, but Bloober Team is exploring a different art form this time around – the stage.
Gamers start the game in a dilapidated environment that soon reveals itself to be an apparently abandoned cruise ship, though one that’s inhabited by….someone? Something? Commanded to stay awake and play your part, you discover you are here for a specific purpose: build the character; connect the memories, dreams, and fears; and prepare for the ‘big role’ to come.
Layers of Fear 2 doesn’t stray far from the formula of the first game, but why change what worked? The changing environments that drove me nuts and kept me off-balance in the first game return, and there’s a few twists to the formula that really drove it home. Where horror games almost routinely lean on the jump scare to elicit a response, the Layers games are really a lot more sophisticated in their approach – using minor adjustments to the environment to create paranoia, allowing even the smallest movement or shift to create a ‘fight or flight’ response from the player.
And just when you think you’re safe, THAT’s when the jump scare happens.
Bloober Team ups the ante on every front, with great audio work and improved visuals. With a longer run time than the first game and three possible endings to encounter, there’s even more value for your dollar here than in the first outing.