Do you ever feel like your mind is playing tricks on you? If you don’t, then let Layers of Fear get you acquainted. For reference, think of that slightly uneasy feeling you have when your front door is unlocked, and you could’ve sworn you locked it. Or the feeling you get when you hear a noise somewhere in your house, but you’re alone. It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach. That’s Layers of Fear. Get ready…
The phrase ‘tortured artist’ never rang so true. In Layers of Fear, you need to create your magnum opus, your masterpiece. Starting in your studio you’re facing a blank canvas and a locked cabinet. You’re stuck in a cycle where you can’t quite connect the dots, and completing your masterpiece is getting to the point where it’s haunting you. With just you and your mind, it’s up to you to pace the rooms and corridors of your house, looking for inspiration. Slowly but surely, buckling under the pressure of the last few years, your mind starts taking a nightmare turn into insanity.
For example, you’ll walk into a room with a door in front of you. You try the handle, but it’s locked. But how can you progress if the only door is locked and there’s nothing else in the room? Turn around, and suddenly 3 new doors have appeared. And this is where Layers of Fear greatest attribute lies. The constant changing of the one environment that should be your safe place – your home. The suspense of opening each door kills you, in the best way. At times, during my playthrough I would spend minutes debating whether I should actually open a door, or turn around, or open that chest. A lot of the time nothing sinister is actually on the other side. But it’s those moments when you least expect it that it gets you. I’m not ashamed to say Layers of Fear scared me out of my skin at times and I loved every damn minute of it. I cannot say enough how much of a good job has been done here in the pacing of the story and not repeating tricks.
Throughout the halls of your house are many things to be scared of; whether it be babies crying, rats in cots, scary dolls that make Chucky look like Peppa Pig – it’s all here. The most terrifying aspect however is the battle with your own mind. There’s a real sense of no matter what you do, you’re character is screwed. If these things are really in the house, that’s unbelievably terrifying. If they are not in the house and in your mind – then how do you escape your mind? That’s even more terrifying. And Layers of Fear plays on this, by throwing in a truly intriguing story that had me gripped from minute one.
In horror scenarios your first intention is to just get the bloody hell out of that dark room with one solitary candle burning and the sounds of a woman crying. But located round the house are a whole host of cabinets and drawers which can be opened to reveal letters, sketch’s and clues to what on earth has left you in such a hellish predicament. It’s these little post-it notes of plot lines that are the subtle star of the show. Despite the majority of these cabinets being optional, I found myself genuinely wanting to search through every nook and cranny to see what more I could uncover. The game clocks in at 4 hours, which may seem short, but it’s such a hugely enjoyable and engaging time that you’ll feel nothing but appreciation for the experience. Not to mention there is replay value in abundance, with multiple endings and a whole host of interesting achievements to snuff out. If you’ve come out from behind the cushion that is.
It’s funny that in while releasing a game where the main character is on a mission to create a masterpiece, developers Bloober Team made one of their own. Layers of Fear is the best thing I have played on Xbox One this year by an absolute mile. Who knew getting creeped out could be so wonderful?