REVIEW: ‘Layers of Fear 2’ is Trippy but not as Chilling as Console (Switch)

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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. At this point, Bloober Team is well-known for its horror games, so it’s not surprising to see Layers of Fear 2 make its way to the Nintendo Switch. And while it’s still as trippy and thought-provoking as its PlayStation and Xbox counterparts, the chilling impact is a bit lost on a hand-held console.

In Layers of Fear 2, players are put in the shoes of a talented Hollywood actor playing the lead role in a mysterious film direct by an equally enigmatic Director. The Director is known for his eccentric technique of preparing his actors for their roles before they ever step foot on set. It doesn’t take long to realize that this technique is referring to method acting. Due to the extreme lengths actors will go while method acting, it’s understandable why this subject would be a good one to feature in Layers of Fear 2—as players get more into character, they will lose themselves.

If it hasn’t been obvious so far, Layers of Fear 2 is only a sequel in name to Layers of Fear, Bloober’s Team first game. The place, characters, storyline, and subject of the horror are completely different. But how this horror tale is crafted is familiar enough to recognize Bloober Team’s signature. The expert cuts—where you’ll walk down a hall, turn around, and be in a completely different place—and the atmosphere, between the chilling sounds and creepy visuals, are what make this a Bloober Team creation.

The game actively changes around the player, creating a disorientating environment anyone who has played Layers of Fear or Blair Witch will be very familiar with. There has been so much detail put into each scene and set you’ll explore. And even the smallest details are used to create an uneasy feeling, like when there are one too many shadows on the wall. With mannequins moving behind your back, unexpected changes in physics, and some downright psychedelic moments, this game is an absolute experience.

The connection to film doesn’t stop with the storyline. The game is separated into five acts, requiring players to find a film reel to go onto the next act. In each act, the sets you explore harken to various film genres and directly borrow objects from classic movies like The Wizard of Oz or The Shining. Every now and again, the act will plunge players into black and white, producing a chilling effect and warning players of danger ahead.

Layers of Fear 2

Players only know the Director through a disembodied voice, leading them through each act and giving them orders that they can either ignore or follow. How players choose to interact with the Director will determine the ending of the game. The previous iteration of this series had a similar mechanic, so it’s nice to see a return to this, not only giving players choices but also an incentive to replay the game.

There is a large emphasis on exploration. While the story can’t be missed by just playing straight through the game and interacting with the Director, players will get much more nuance out of the story by picking up and examining objects and reading correspondence. And while some interactable objects will emit whispers you can follow to their source, there’s still plenty of visual searching to do. The only downside to some of this searching is that it can be hard to interact with objects at times. Using the Switch in its handheld state, grabbing objects can sometimes require too much precision and it can be a struggle to open doors or cabinets.

While playing this game in docked mode brings all the scare and creepiness it was meant to, most people have a Switch for its ease of play on the go. But the smaller screen removes a lot of the scare factor. Using headphones to get the most out of the spooky audio spatial sounds improves this experience, but using the handheld version of the Switch removes the visual immersion achieved with a larger screen. This isn’t to say that the entire horror experience is ruined with a smaller screen, but I definitely found myself jumping less in this version.

While playing Layers of Fear 2 on the go isn’t quite as scary as its console versions, it’s nevertheless creepy and thought-provoking as you explore the well-crafted scenes and lose yourself in becoming a completely different person.

Layers of Fear 2 is available on May 20th for Nintendo Switch and is already available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Layers of Fear 2
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

While playing Layers of Fear 2 on the go isn’t quite as scary as its console versions, it’s nevertheless creepy and thought-provoking as you explore the well-crafted scenes and lose yourself in becoming a completely different person.