Horror games are always going to be a game genre that will grasp me by the throat, slice down my thighs, and spit in half of my face. The horror genre, I feel works best in video games as opposed to film, TV, radio, or books thanks to how involved you, the consumer becomes within the product. You’re controlling the protagonist, you lose yourself inside the world more easily than you would just watching a film or turning a page. Is Layers of Fear the horror game I’ve been waiting for?
I ask that question because, to be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t know about Layers of Fear until last week when it came out on the Steam Store. My previous favourite horror games have been, the Amnesia series, the Penumbra series, and Pineview Drive. Notice anything?
They’re all generally atmospheric. Sure, you have the physical monsters in Amnesia and Penumbra, but it’s magic lies within the atmosphere. Pineview Drive is all about the atmosphere and using that to create the perfect jump scares. Layers of Fear looks like it’s coupled up with these titles. So time to boot the game up and give it a play in the dark.
First things first, it’s apparent that it’s one of those games where the reason why you’re at the house is unknown, unless you’ve read the game description beforehand. Something I didn’t do properly, I just read it and saw the words, “Psychedelic horror” and was sold. So basically, you’re a painter, but you seem to have forgotten that; that and the fact that you’re insane. – A lot of “that” related words there! – and you walk through your house uncovering parts of your past that all link up.
This is your standard, walk around the house and find keys to progress type of horror game, and there’s obvious triggers that activate jump scares, except they aren’t so obvious, at least not when you’re playing it. The gameplay forces you to focus on the objects within the rooms because anything could lead to a clue, so you subconsciously start searching for that little activation cursor. While you’re doing that, the game sets up actions in places which it knows you won’t be focusing on, or places where you won’t be expecting anything to happen.
Annoyingly though there’s so many paintings scattered all over the house, that you become enthralled with them, you at least glance at ever single one you pass, even if it’s one you saw earlier.
“I first realised that the game was going to mess with my head when I stepped foot in one room, went to leave after some exploring, and then as I left, the room I was in previously was no more. I’m not looking forward to this constant changing and head f***ery, but I also am… so much.”
The soundtrack is eerie, feeling distant and foreboding. I found myself wanting the music to either be more constant, or louder, to distract me from the possible horror around the corner, but then when the music is audible, I was willing it to go away so I could hear the world around me.
“The game looks so textured, and splendidly shaded giving it that high quality polish to allow you to appreciate everything within it…when you’re not quivering in fear.”
Layers of Fear is a new horror game, and even though it follows suit of other popular horror games, it adds it’s twists and specific elements to make you feel like you’re playing a new game, but it does slightly feel like you’re playing DLC for another base game. Either way, I’m not that far into the game and I’ve already had to turn the game off because adrenalin has surged through my body that much that I can’t read things without falling over my words, and my hands are shaking.
Layers of Fear looks to be making it up there with the other horror games that can make me want to go and sit in dark corners and cry into my knees.