In my Early Access (P)review of Layers of Fear I found it to be an atmospheric game that had potential. I also compared it to P.T as it obviously uses that game as an inspiration for some of the things we see in the game. Now ready for release as a full game, is it the P.T we want? Or do the haunts not live up to the artistic vision of the developers?
If you’ve played the Early Access version of Layers of Fear, don’t let that put you off. Straight from the off you have to update your saved game and you’ll start at the beginning, and there is a very good reason for this. While you’ll recognise some things from the “in-development” version, this is a different experience.
This is where people who have played Layers of Fear before will suddenly get unnerved. I’m sure like me they’ll load it up and just expect to walk the same old corridors and jump at the same old jump scare heavy moments. The jumps are there, but there is a more refined sense to the way they are thrown at you (and thrown at you they will be).
In referring to P.T in this review, I do have to say one thing… this is not P.T. It wants to be, but the atmosphere is not the same. Where P.T builds up dread and creates an atmosphere so heavy in tension it feels truly terrifying at moments. What Layers of Fear does is resort to cheaper jump scares, but with a set plan to them. There is a lot of story in Layers of Fear, but you have to go looking for it. You could simply rush through the game and feel like it is lacking that story, but it is for you to discover. If you let the story get under your skin and you realise just what horrors you are seeing, then the game becomes more effective.
It is hard to say if Layers of Fear is really successful as a horror, because in some ways you are walking through a story, and you have little influence over where it goes. You have to find the evidence and certain objects that are important to the story, and the game will continue. This is where the strength in it is found though, because with every clue found, the terror grows and the house becomes more abstract and destroyed. At the end things are just bat-shit crazy, and that is even before you get to what you as a character have done to cause this.
Layers of Fear may not be the success it wants to be, but it is a good-looking game that manages to actually create a feeling of dread, and it will make you jump. It isn’t a P.T, but then again do we want it to be? P.T created something to be admired, but we don’t need clones of it. Layers of Fear manages to be its own game, influenced by P.T but not dominated by its shadow. Is it worth playing? Yes, especially for fans of horror and jump scares. I’m not sure if there is much re-playability hidden in there, but that one thrill ride it will take you on will stay in your memory for some time.
Layers of Fear is available on PC and PlayStation 4 now.