Bloober Team and Gun Media have just released the next chapter in their creepy psychological game series: Layers of Fear 2. Promising a more disturbing and maddening experience; thus arousing the attention of horror fans around the world eager to find out if the game is comparable to its predecessor. Does it hold up to the high expectations of the first one? Is it worth the asking price of $29.99? Read on to find out more.
- OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- Processor: Intel Core i7 6500 u 2.4 GHz
- Memory: 16 GB
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 940 (2 GB)
- OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- Processor: Intel Core i7 8700 4.0 GHz
- Memory: 16 GB
- Graphics: EVGA Nvidia GTX 1080Ti (11 GB)
The cameras are all focused on you; the center of the scene. Not just in character, you are the character. The part to play is singularly yours. Written just for you. You are met with silence. No barking orders from the director. No call to action that you need to become this version of yourself. The demand to act fills your mind, but the script pages hold no words.
Your past has helped to mold you into what you are, forced upon you the skills required to hone your craft. That same past has scraped deep furrowing scars into you, not on the outside where the world can see, but in a place buried so deep within that it has become shapeless. You push those memories down but let the experiences drive you into who, or what, you must play.
Darkness surrounds as you stand silently in the spotlight, the only sounds to be heard over your heartbeat are the distant breaking of waves against the hull and the sound of cameras pointed in your direction preserving this moment for eternity. A deep and commanding voice rises from the distance. Act. What part will you play?
To its core the game is psychological exploration game filled with chase sequences in tight spaces. You play as a nameless actor who stumbled upon “the role of a life time” lead by a casting director with mysteriously ominous intentions. Your job is to explore the gorgeously detailed ocean liner that resembles that of the titanic. As you explore you interact with little objects throughout the game world similar to the first game. Each interaction builds upon each other giving the player just enough information to progress further. A large chunk of the first act is to slowly wander through the ocean liner following the direction from the casting director collecting pictures, and clues shedding light on who you are (Or who you are being molded into).
The ship is full of small tight hallways and rooms that are constantly changing once the player interacts with a certain scripted object. Used at first as a misdirection tactic then slowly molded into the iconic psychological breaking of the players. Interactions start to trigger mirages of sorts preparing the player for what’s to come down the road. For the most part it’s just walking/running through each room opening a door or a drawer then possibly turning on something or turning off another thing then something creepy occurs. In most cases all of this happens in poorly dim lighted areas with a lot of just junk in the environment.
Unfortunately here is the bulk of gameplay content. The player will encounter a creature of sorts that will chase him/her for a small linear sequence multiple times after the first act. The player will have to run through a claustrophobic area with tight corners and interact with closed doors to continue. Until they hit a point where there’s an object to interact with or the casting director tells you to shut the door. It’s very linear and predictable after the first sequence. The developers made it so that the creature runs faster than the player to try to cause that state of panic. There isn’t really any “layers” to this mechanic it’s very straight forward but ends up causing the game to shoot itself in the foot overall but I’ll talk about that under the “Personal Thoughts Section”.
Under the beautiful atmosphere and many chase sequences there is writing worthy enough to be classified as masterpiece worthy. The story itself is mysterious yet engaging right from the start. It was crafting with the precision of needle and thread and occurs in the right amounts to keep the player’s interest. It can easily be overlooked due to the flow being cut by the gratuitous amounts of chase sequence that serve no real purpose towards the plot. Each object that the player interacts with adds onto the intrigue and uniqueness of the story.
The dialogue is one of the few parts of the game that shine brilliantly. Often the writing is perceived as thought-provoking which adds a much-needed layer to this game. The use of metaphors is executed almost flawlessly and subtle moral choices are enough to make the player really think about it even afterwards.
The music puts the final touches on setting the mood. It carries the player from one scene to the next whether it’s building suspense or calming the nerves down. It is the best utilized tool in this game.
The visuals are beautiful especially when the player isn’t dealing with an encounter with a chase sequence. The game flows between normal plush colors of browns, oranges, and reds to a noir like black and white. In the quieter moments it works quite well for it. It is appealing and disturbing to the eye at the time same time.
The optimization was surprisingly very good. On a low-end computer that only has 2gb of ram on the graphics card (940m) I was able to get 59-60 frames per second at all times on the lowest setting. Then on a higher end computer with a 1080ti was able to get constant 100+ frames on the highest settings. Neither one of the computers ran into any bugs.
Layers of Fear 2 started out with the perfect mix of suspense and tension. Then the developers crafted the first chase sequence beautifully and it fit with the narrative. Once Act 2 started the game’s tone shifted into one with multiple chase sequences that took me out of the immersion I experienced during the first act. Plus the chase sequences happened in small clustered maps that had the black and white filtering plus a graininess which just made it unappealing to my eyes.
The writing started to fade away as the game went on because the focus shifted on running away from the monster. This is where I started losing interest in the game since it was turning into a basic run chase horror (Which is the exact opposite of what I was expecting from this game).
Layers of Fear 2 had so much potential to become “the horror game of 2019” but it ended up missing the marker due to a poor choice in scare tactics. The scare tactics that on paper should have worked ended up hindering where the game was strongest (psychological immersion with heavy narrative).
Every chase sequence after the first one felt like filler content as the game is twice as long as the first entry into the series. What made the first game so great were those moments of wondering “what is that around the corner?” or “what the heck is going on?”. Sadly this game you have different questions that are only answered if you pay attention. The answer almost always boils down to “It’s because we tried to make the game intelligent”. At the end of the day it feels like the game THINKS it’s smart leaving me to just move on.
If you are into chase sequenced horrors this game is for you. Layers of Fear 2 is out now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.