Layers of Fear Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Bloober Team
Release Date: February 21st 2018
Price as of Article: $19.99 USD, £17.99 GBP
Layers of fear peaked my attention because of its mansion setting and I am glad to say that the story is one which will have you wanting to extract every detail. As an unnamed painter who has had some massive troubles, you return to the beautiful, creepy Victorian mansion and begin your work to finish your Magnum Opus.
As you explore the house, you begin to uncover more of the mystery of what happened to you through hallucinations into the past. As the player, you get to experience some of these past situations and get to delve deeper into the relationship he had with his wife, daughter and friends. You will come across snippets that show how the man you are today is a shadow of the one he was then. Talent dwindling and your mental capacity in the present is truly questionable. I mean what sain man is commissioned to draw some pictures for a children’s book only to depict horrible pictures of poor little red riding hood getting eaten by a wolf. As you would expect the publisher was not too impressed and these are the type of snippets you come across in the mansion to add detail to the fascinating story.
The game is massively story driven so I don’t want to give too much away other than to say some of the things you find out are both fascinating and gruesome. It gives you a first-hand look at how you have become the man you are today. I could not wait to find the next collectable to extract more of what was going on, so the story for me was like a good book, I could not wait to read the next page but instead of everything being written or told through a visual narrative there is a nice mix of both with items you find adding more colour to proceedings.
The audio in this game is excellent, the atmosphere created it one of fear. As you walk you can hear the creaking of the floorboards, or how the pitter patter of the rain can be heard outside with the sporadic bursts of thunder at just the right time to scare the living daylights out of you. This is not one of those run of the mill games which will try to jump scare you every few minutes although there are a good few of those as well to mix it up. This game expertly builds tension using sound and music in very clever ways and it had me on edge all the time and these are the type of horrors that really get under my skin. You may enter a room and hear the scratching of something against the wall only to think what on earth is that and the problem is that you will rarely see what it is which for me always makes my imagination run wild.
It’s the voices that you hear whispering as you explore which made me go to bed late at night pulling the covers tightly around me and sleeping with the night light on. Some real creepy stuff goes on and its the sounds which make you feel unsettled.
Visuals and performance
Visually the game is very good, everything is dripping with detail and the visuals sync up with the audio superbly well which is what you need in horror games like this for the experience to work. All of the game is based in the Mansion itself so for some, they may find that there is not enough variety. There are no different settings but then that would be ultra critical as each room is quite unique to the last.
To create the right mood, the developers have used lighting superbly well, rooms are often lit by candlelight or you may walk past a window only to see the light from the thunderstorm coming through. In the later chapter’s it’s like the house is alive dripping with blood and decaying in front of your very eyes. If you have ever seen Amityville then you will know where I am coming from.
The game scares you in ways, you will not expect and is really very clever in the way it does so, a lot of love care and attention has gone onto the visuals and you can see this is a real love affair for the developers. Kudos to them because they have done a really grand job in making me feel like I couldn’t sleep such is the way this game gets deep into your psyche and under your skin. So thanks very much Bloober Team!
There just so many sumptuous details which I would not call a delight but in the context of this game are just beautiful to behold. The painting’s for me are the real star of the show, transforming before your very eyes sometimes depicting some terrifying stuff! The artwork created for the game in these specific scenes is brilliant. I really enjoyed exploring and finding the collectables just because of how unique they looked and how fascinated I became just looking for more information and in that sense, the visuals really do deliver a wonderful feast for the eyes even if it’s not always pleasant. One example which really for some reason stuck with me was finding the illustrations of Little Red Riding Hood and I don’t even want to explain what I saw when I went into a room with a cot in it.That sent shivers down the spine.
I was even happier with the game’s performance, this has been very well ported over from PC and was a pleasure to play in both docked and handheld mode.
In the gameplay department, you can control our protagonist by using the joycons in each hand which I found worked best and is how the developers ask you to play it at the beginning of the game. It works well as you use the analogue sticks to control the camera and the movement of the character ZR is used to clench your hand so you can open doors or pull out draws and while holding the button you can either use motion controls or the analogue sticks themselves both working well.
It seems as though lately I have reviewed quite a few games where the game is more of a vehicle for the story and in that this is no different. While Night in the Woods and Old Man’s Journey are of course different games the similarities in gameplay is comparable in that there is not a huge amount of it.
This, in reality, is a walking simulator and the problem with that is that there is sometimes a lack of interaction or meaningful things you can do. As an example, early on you will need to open doors or search drawers and when you open many drawers and there is nothing to interact with other than a handful of items then it starts to become a tad tiresome but I can level the same criticisms at many games like this. I felt more could have been done with the puzzle aspects of the game as well, it would have been great had there been a few brain teasers in the rooms but its lacking in that department.
As you traverse each room and solve some very basic puzzles, there isn’t really any backtracking because the game is quite clever in the way that it want’s you to concentrate on that one room at a time and will often lock the door behind you.You will experience something different in each room and then move on.
In an interesting twist, you will go out of the room you just came and you will end up somewhere different. It’s like the house moved while you were in that one room and you won’t know sometimes whether you’re in a delusion or of its reality which is rather compelling.The experience is linear and you can’t die, in my 5-hour playthrough I never got stuck and so then there isn’t much of a challenge in that regard.
You will not encounter enemies and will not have to struggle to get past enemies, manage an inventory of ammunition or anything like that so in that respect, you could consider the game to be quite different to many other horror games out there and if you are looking for something more action orientated I would look elsewhere.
Once you complete the game you get to come back to the mansion to play the downloadable content which came with this game as the protagonist’s daughter and while this doesn’t add anything new, it prolongs the experience which is certainly not a bad thing.
This game is currently set at $19,99 or £17,99 and while that is on the more expensive side of the eshop you are also getting the really good quality game here. It’s only £1 more expensive than on Steam but here you get the added benefit of portability. I am glad to see this has been priced similarly to on other platforms.
The Inheritance DLC is included which adds another one hour or so to the five-hour play through. I do think that once you are done though you will probably move on as there is not that much replayability in this one. If I had paid £17,99 I would have been happy with the experience overall especially as I personally love horror games.
Dripping with detail
Story keeps you engrossed till the end
Gameplay takes a backseat