Horror games have slowly becoming the norm in gaming culture. While they were always there, they usually served a niche audience. Recently games like Resident Evil VII and Five Nights at Freddy’s have hit such massive audiences that more horror games are being produced. Some are great, others… not so much
Layers of Fear was a bit of a sleeper but one of the best horror games I had encountered in a long time. Rather than focus on jump scares, the Bloober Team focused on a narrative psychological experience. The fear came from the unknown and each scare was crafted to precise execution. It did well enough that was DLC and even a Switch port. Now, Bloober Team has teamed up with Gun Media to release Layers of Fear 2. Gun Media has already shown what it can do with Friday the 13th: The Game, but this is a smaller title with a rabid fanbase.
Layers of Fear 2 takes places separate from the first game. You don’t have to play the first one to understand what is happening in Layers of Fear 2, but it will help you appreciate some of the subtle references to the first game. This time around you take on the role of a actor. The film is being shot on a cruise ship and just like the original Layers of Fear, not everything is as it seems. As you progress through you begin to unravel secrets about the director, the film that is being made, and the directors past methods for getting his actors into “character”.
It’s these transitions and scenes in Layers of Fear 2 that really stand out. Being unable to differentiate between what is real and what isn’t takes it toll on you. You enter a room, only to hear a door slam. As you turn around to see if you are locked in, there is now a blank wall where the door you entered through was. It’s unsettling and makes the players feel uneasy. In order to explore your character and the ship, you must solve puzzles that will help the player piece together more of the story.
As in the first game, a lot of story is found through interacting with inanimate objects. Players who like to explore will be rewarded with plenty of lore and backstory. The controls are smooth and easy to pick up. I played on an Xbox One and felt like there were a few issues, but that could be that the game might have been developed more for PC than console. Marcia played it on stream and seemed to have no issues with the controls.
Visually, Layers of Fear 2 is firing on all cylinders. The environments in game are incredible considering this game takes place on a cruise ships. Dilapidated crew quarters and gorgeous ocean views are just some of the sights you will see as you go on your journey. The sound design for Layers of Fear 2 is also incredible. Playing using headphones is a must. You won’t miss out on anything if you use TV speakers or a sound system, but you won’t get to appreciate all the little intricacies of the sound design. Creaking floorboards, the ocean waves, screams and more await you.
If you’re a horror game fan, Layers of Fear 2 is a no-brainer. Gun Media and Bloober Team have created an amazing experience for horror fans alike. With three different endings players will find themselves wanting to immediately begin their next playthrough upon completion of their first one. While we’re still a few months out from the best time of the year, Layers of Fear 2 will help get you into the spooky mood, just in time for summer.
The author was given an Xbox One code of Layers of Fear 2 for this review.