REVIEW: ‘Layers of Fear 2’ is a Chilling Sequel, but Only in Name (PS4)

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Layers of Fear 2

Layers of Fear 2 is a first-person, psychological thriller, horror video game developed by Bloober Team and published by Gun Media. Layers of Fear 2 is the awaited sequel to Bloober Team’s first game: Layers of Fear. Given the first game’s substance and ending, it was hard to fathom what a sequel would look like. That said, Layers of Fear 2 is only a sequel in name, not in story.

In essence, Layers of Fear 2 doesn’t tread far from the first game in that it is also a trippy, psychological horror game with a large emphasis on exploration and story. But, the environment, the plot, and some of the game mechanics are all different from the first title.

Instead of playing as a painter like in the first game, in Layers of Fear 2, you play as a Hollywood actor who accepts the lead role in a film directed by an enigmatic and eccentric director. You’re known as a very talented actor who has played numerous roles, but this gig is different.

The director is known for using unorthodox methods to prepare his actors for their roles. The director’s only appearance is in a discorporate voice that leads you through the character building, reminding you to “Act,” and that the every “act of creation always begins with an act of destruction.”

It doesn’t take long for the player to realize that this unorthodox method the game refers to is method acting. Given the extreme lengths actors will go while getting into character, it’s very easy to see how the idea of this game came around. As you get more into character, and the more you lose yourself to become this new character, the crazier and scarier the game gets.

The film influence of the game goes beyond the plot. It is seen at the very start with the first few screens you navigate having a grainy, old-timey film texture. Beyond that, there are various instances in which the game takes inspiration from other movies. Some scene inspirations that left a lasting impression were from Casa Blanca, It, Wizard of Oz, and The Shining.

The game itself also flits from color to black and white, paying homage to various classic films but also ramping up the horror. Layers of Fear 2 also has a similar room to the painting room in the first game. The game is separated into five acts. In order to start each act, a film reel must be found and used in this room. Acting as a bit of an easter egg, you can find and collect various movie posters depicting your past, critically acclaimed roles.

Layers of Fear 2

Similar to the first game, Layers of Fear 2 still has a large emphasis on exploration, specifically, so you can discover more of the story and better understand the nuances involved. Various objects can be picked up and examined by turning them around. News clippings and letters can be read. Important objects that directly relate to the story can be found by following whispers. But not all objects can be found audibly. This means that there is still a large amount of visual exploration needing to be done.

As you investigate, you’ll notice that some of the mechanics have changed. In Layers of Fear 2, crouching aids you in moving around the environment but also helps you when evading a monster. There are also more puzzles to complete compared to the first game. Although fun, these puzzles are very simple and shouldn’t hold anyone up for long.

As always, the game actively changes around the player and is very deceptive. Often times, you’ll walk through a door, turn around, and find a wall instead. Hallways will appear out of nowhere, leaving you to sometimes walk in seemingly endless loops of the same room. The cuts for these scenes are well done and often unnoticeable. These disorienting environmental mechanics are what made Layers of Fear so well known and fun and it was great to see that things haven’t changed in Layers of Fear 2.

Although less scary than the previous game, Layer of Fear 2 is a beautiful but chilling game with wonderful writing and voice-acting. It maintains pieces of the first game that many loved while changing enough so that it doesn’t feel repetitive.

Layers of Fear 2 is available now on PC, PS4, and XboxOne.

Layers of Fear 2
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Although less scary than the previous game, Layer of Fear 2 is a beautiful but chilling game with wonderful writing and voice-acting. It maintains pieces of the first game that many loved while changing enough so that it doesn’t feel repetitive.