Layers of Fear 2 Review Highlights
We selected the most interesting moments from the reviews of the new game developed by Bloober Team
Released on May 28, Layers of Fear 2 is a psychological thriller, first-person, horror video game where you have to explore the troubled memories and psyche of a classical Hollywood actor. You find yourself aboard a cruise ship out in the middle of the ocean where you have to shoot a movie.
We highlighted the most important and juicy details from several reviews of the game. The article may contain spoilers.
Khee Hoon Chan at Rock, Paper, Shotgun
First, Khee Hoon Chan at Rock, Paper, Shotgun comments on the main motif of the game – mannequins – and points out that Layers Of Fear 2 uses them for jump-scares abundantly. Good thing is that the game doesn’t use mannequins to just represent some abstract fears and doesn’t follow a horror trope, but reference them as equipment in the actor’s life. But this mannequin motif could have been developed and used to address the actor’s turmoil. Instead of this, the game just relied on ‘vague allusions to his past’.
Then, Khee Hoon Chan writes that the game is full of metaphors that could have been expanded on; getting collectibles and solving puzzles just come down to ‘’opening doors and examining items’’ routine. The actor’s recollections give you little context to his character, not allowing you to feel something for him.
Khee Hoon Chan qualified the game as having ‘’hints of inventiveness’’ after experiencing ‘’a frisson of chills’’ when the exit at the end of the corridor was unexpectedly caught in flames, and the camera was forcefully putting his perspective forward where mannequins block the path ahead.
All in all, the protagonist’s madness just shows his ‘’otherness’’ rather than his motivations. More importantly, the game ‘’dangerously romanticises’’ madness treating it as something creditable. In general, Layers of Fears 2 is based on traditional jump scares though having a great potential to reinforce the classic horror tropes.
Robert Zak at PC Gamer
Robert Zak at PC Gamer starts with stating that it’s okay to repeat the horror tropes, but the trick is to reconfigure them so they can still surprise us. Layers of Fear 2 has these tropes but doesn’t have its own identity.
Three of five acts of the game you spend mostly as a younger version of yourself; the pacing is poor; horror movie references lack cohesion – all this makes the plot confused. While the first act builds tension and sets a tone, some subsequent segments lack any action, except puzzles. Some of them, like the slide projectors that create an eerie atmosphere, keep with the tone and theme of the game, but others are insane and can be compared with ‘‘the dark ages of '90s adventure game puzzle logic’’.
Robert Zak calls Layers of Fear 2 a game of loops which represent the obsessiveness of the actor’s mind, but the game failed to include this into the narrative, again creating this confusion.
There are, however, some new techniques like optical illusions that make you see spectral figures in your peripheral vision, or changing environments behind your back to disorient you. It blurs the line between ‘‘your own increasingly paranoid mind and the character’s sanity’’.
Thus, the game failed in an attempt to maintain the psychoanalytical storytelling and to have its own identity.
Ty Sheedlo at Screen Rant
Ty Sheedlo at Screen Rant has a more positive look at the game. He compares the main character’s quest through the ship with a journey into the subconscious. The reviewer believes that the purpose of running from mannequins, returning to childhood, and playing pretend with the memory of a sister is to rebuild the protagonist by confronting what he’s done.
Admitting that actors don’t literally solve puzzles while building their career, Ty Sheedlo doesn’t mind them to be in the game. They generally have an obvious solution, but in their form and as a function to the game story he defines them ‘‘works of near genius’’.
As regards scaring, the game doesn’t go for just simple jump scare. The horrific moments are mostly ‘‘delicate and atmospheric’’. More than that, the attention to detail and lighting is amazing.
Each collectible (poster, audio recording, projector slide) that references to different movies like Wizard of Oz, The Shining, or A Trip to the Moon allows you to learn the actor’s character and his subconscious.
The reviewer concludes with stating the questions: ‘’If life is a stage, where does that put you?’ and ‘’What does it mean to be the captain of your own destiny?’’ Therein lies the message of the game.
Jordan Boyd at DualShockers
Jordan Boyd at DualShockers characterizes the game’s script as ‘‘enticing’’ that pushes you to move forward. You don’t have a feeling that the game has full control over you since you’re able to make choices near the end of every act. But the reviewer was disappointed with the final act which is ‘’incredibly uneventful’’ – there’s no payoff to all the key decisions you’ve made throughout each act. However, Jordan Boyd sees here a positive aspect: this act gives you the inspiration to play through the game again and again, and with New Game+ mode it becomes possible.
The reviewer states that horror in the game always serves some purpose, it’s not grotesque. It’s never too much, and the formless man acts as the only physical enemy, whose presence is quite creepy. Moreover, the way that mannequins move at an unnatural frame-rate gives you ‘’an uneasy feeling that’ll sit at the pit of your stomach’’ during the whole game.
Jordan Boyd emphasizes the impeccable sound design found throughout the game. Besides, the fact that Tony Todd – the horror legend – voiced The Director adds a sense of personality to the game’s story.
As for the horror movies references, the reviewer believes that Layers of Fear 2 has its own identity that ‘‘never gets overshadowed by its abundance of references’’.
Jordan Boyd concludes by saying that Bloober Team has managed to develop the game that is different from common horror tropes and creates something more exciting.
If you have any difficulties with your playthrough or finding collectible items, check out walkthrough to help you with it.