- Developer: Bloober Team
- Publisher: Gun Media
- Release Date: May 28, 2019
- Genre: Psychological Horror
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
- Ratings: M
- MSRP: $29.99
The original Layers of Fear was a game that took me by surprise. I love horror, both games and movies even though they don’t actually scare me. The only things that have come close to giving me the heebie jeebies have been the early Silent Hill games (1-4), Resident Evil 7 & this year’s remake of Resident Evil 2. Layers of Fear was well designed and was able to get under my skin enough to buy into the scares. Layers of Fear 2 takes what I enjoyed in the original game and improved them in nearly every way. It manages to be beautiful and utterly disturbing all at once aka a very good time.
Layers of Fear 2 changes direction from the original and places you in the shoes of an actor on a large ship. The game still employs a 1st person view and as you begin to explore the vessel, you very quickly hear the voice of the director of your film. His voice is haunting (especially with headphones on) and for good reason. The narrator is none other than Candyman himself, Tony Todd. For this reason alone the game earned a ton of extra cool points from me.
The game is split into 5 different acts with each taking you to a different location in the ship. Due to the complete madness that the game throws at you, the environments end up being extremely varied to the point that you can easily forget that you are floating out in the middle of the ocean at all. Gameplay is similar to the last game. You push the narrative forward by exploring different rooms and finding collectables like notes etc. that can be found all over the ship. The story does not just center on you however. The plot also involves two young children that had at one point stowed away on the ship. The way superb writing blends the narrative together is truly inspired and the pacing in the midst of everything going on is something the development team should be commended for.
The world around can change at a moments notice and it often does. Ghostly flashes, blood soaked hallways and claustrophobic corridors are some of the many ways Layers of Fear 2 keeps things fresh. You never experience the same thing and even when you have to backtrack, you may find that the door or room you just walked out of may no longer be there.
What I wasn’t ready for was how many times I died when I found myself being pursued by this creature that appears from time to time. With no combat the only option is to outrun the fiend. Death comes from making a turn too late or not getting through the correct door (or even seeing it) in time. This was in fact the only part of the game I didn’t like but it was due to myself not being prepared and not a flaw in the game design. I will say these segments of the game are more on the side of annoying than scary but did not kill my vibe at all. It did come close a few times but like I said it was my fault. If you could have seen how many times I died because didn’t realize I needed to close a door behind me or because I took too long to start running…it was pretty sad to see. Oh and can someone please let me know what the hell is up with mannequins in horror games?
The game breaks up the scares a bit with a few puzzles that are well designed but not anything that will leave you stuck or frustrated. Some tie directly into the gameplay and help you to avoid the creature that stalks you and others serve as a way to move on to the next area. They are often very clever but no real head scratchers here. I will admit that trying to figure out how to water the shadow of a plant was really cool.
Layers of Fear 2 is a horror fan’s dream come true. The graphics are fantastic, the story is very well written and the scares are genuine. I did not feel the sense of true fear I got from playing Resident Evil 7 in VR but nothing short of being hunted by killers in a confined space in real life could achieve that. The ability to make different choices to achieve multiple endings along with the great storytelling extends the replay value quite a bit. If you are a fan of the original pick this up by all means. If you have not played the original then do so and play this one as well. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Final Score 8.75/10