I jump at the bit anytime I hear of a new survival horror game; I’m like a crack addict with very little crack for my survival horror addiction. Last year. I got a little rock in Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and the year prior I was gifted with a huge bag in The Evil Within. This year was starting to look a little lean, that was until I heard of Layers of Fear. This survival horror/adventure game by Bloober Team is one of the scariest titles I have played in awhile. I’ve not jumped in my chair at high noon while playing a game for quite some time; P.T. was the last one to do that to me. Layers of Fear does take a lot from P.T., but that isn’t a bad thing, this is what P.T. and Silent Hills could have been had Konami not been against making money and good games. I’m glad that Bloober Team took a chance on fear, and it turned out to be one scary ride of a game.
There is a lot of story in this game, but at the beginning you really have no idea what is going on. I’m not going to delve too deeply into the story because what makes the game so good is the fact that you read notes, newspaper clippings and experience memories as you go throughout the house. It would be a shame for me to ruin the story, so I will say this, you are a painter who is having a rough time at the moment and you are desperately trying to finish a painting. The period is that of the early 20th century, the house, clothing like the funny baby clothes at Bitsy Bug and music relay that to you. That’s all you need to know, what is revealed to you as you quest to finish your painting is mind-blowing.
The controls in this game are quite simple. It is a first person that is almost on-the-rails; you move with the left joystick and look around with the right joystick. To open a drawer or a door, when prompted you hold down the right trigger and make an appropriate action with the right joystick. It is very simple. What isn’t simple is knowing what to do. I start to investigate the house that I woke up in almost immediately and then I got trapped in the first room due to the fact I had no clue what to do. I restarted once because I thought I missed a key item during my search, but I was wrong; the answer to the puzzle is generally in the room you are trapped in. I say generally due to the fact that I encountered two safes where I didn’t have the combination, so I need to replay and find those clues. One of the few negatives I found in this game was the length of it, I finished up the story in two sittings which saddened me; I enjoyed my time in this addled world and wanted to see more of it. It probably took me three hours at best to finish the game, and the replay value is very low. Do I want to open those safes up? I do, but I don’t feel the need to do it right away.
The atmosphere is what really sells this game; the house you wake up in has the most amazing detail. It is a beautiful mansion that slowly deteriorates before your eyes. The wood engraving looks great, the pianos, the furniture; everything looks amazing, until it doesn’t, and then it looks downright scary. This whole atmosphere can seriously make you jump out of your chair; there were three good scares that made me pause the game and walk around the house for a bit. Psychological thriller would be the best way to describe how Bloober Team makes you jump. Imagine being in a room that changes around you as you stand there, the lights flickering off and on, and then a ghastly painting comes suddenly in your vision as the music pipes up. That’s how my experience was; I was on the edge of my seat for the scares which made solving the puzzles a little difficult. It is hard to concentrate when a baby doll may jump out in front of you and scream.
I cannot recommend this game enough. Fans of the old school point-and-click adventure games will have an amazing time with it. Survival horror fans should give this game a good look; there are not many games like this on the horizon and even though it was really short, I enjoyed every minute with it. The puzzles were hard, but fair. The music would crescendo at the right time to get you to wet yourself, and the atmosphere is just spooky. As you get farther and farther into the game, the house just gives you the heebie jeebies. I wouldn’t want to live there, nor would I want to wander around there. Even the story, once you get it figured, will leave you with goosebumps. It’s been a few hours since I’ve beaten the game and it is still on my mind. Hopefully I’ll get some sleep tonight.
An Xbox One code for Layers Of Fear was provided by Bloober Team for the purpose of this review