It’s been more than three years since the first Layers of Fear launched, a game that horror fans fell in love with. Without being perfect, the first game brought different elements together very well to create an excellent combination of history, ambience and constant tension. The second game tries to repeat the formula, changing some elements and introducing new ones, but the truth is that the result isn’t convincing enough…
Layers of Fear 2 is a fairly linear first-person horror game, set on a ship, and play mechanics are mainly centred on exploration, puzzle solving and, at some specific moments, escaping from a creature. The exploration has two levels, the main one – which we need to find the way and advance – and the secondary one – to find alternative paths that take you to collectibles.
The puzzles are quite simple, and none of them has seemed particularly memorable. They are a few entertaining ones, but we expected more, especially coming from the first game. The creature element and its attack seemed to us one of the worst ideas executed in this game. It is an enemy that kills you if it gets too close to you, and you have absolutely nothing to defend yourself against it.
On paper, this may not sound like a bad thing and even challenging. For example, in the Resident Evil 2 remake, the indestructible Mr. X comes after you, but you have the freedom to run away and weapons to stop him. In Layers of Fear 2, the developers have implemented a unique solution forces player to use trial and error to advance.
You can not shoot him, get in the first door you see, instead, you have to find the way or the hiding spot that the developers chose. There are some moments in which they implement the situation with great success, but there are also many others in which they could not. Luckily, there are not too many encounters with this creature.
The rest of the game, we have a bit of everything, from flashbacks to decisions, although in a very implicit way. There are some great moments, they surprise us with impressive scenarios or moments everything changes constantly behind us, making it impossible to foresee what awaits us when we turn the camera. Other moments have seemed less inspired, making the development somewhat irregular.
Layers of Fear 2 embraces its narrative and its audiovisuals, like the first title, does not need too many playable mechanics. This sequel has no real connection with the first part beyond a couple of references and tells the story of an actor or actress who accepts a role in a cruise with a single goal: to represent a character to stop being yourself.
The premise is interesting, but honestly, the story – a fundamental pillar in a title is not finished convince us. We have found it quite predictable and, apart, it takes a long time to start. Perfectly fulfills its mission as a common thread to link the different parts of the game, but we expected more than one party we liked the original delivery and that, after all, it is tremendously important in a narrative adventure.
At least, we thought it delivers a fantastic audiovisual. It does not always stand out, but the second part of the game is great. Throughout the adventure, we will find many references to the cinema and classical theatre, but there also sections that have seemed clearly inspired by Silent Hill 4: The Room.
In the sound is also very good, especially if you play with headphones to take advantage of the 3D sound design. There are a lot of sounds to put us in tension, ranging from some strange origin to others more recognizable as the creaking of the ship’s wood.
As a note, technically it is very, very good. On PS4 Pro it gives you the option of playing at 30 images per second with slightly better graphics) or at 60, and even activate or deactivate vertical synchronization. We have opted for 60 images and activated v-sync, and the truth is that we think it looks great at all times.
Layers of Fear 2 is a game full of ups and downs. It has outstanding moments but also has many aspects that are simply well done and others that are not well executed. The improvable implementation of the creature that is chasing you and a pretty loose story that takes a long time to start are probably its two main problems, and the simplicity of most of its puzzles along with some uninspired scenarios does not help either.
And it’s a shame because of the second third of the game where you play the fourth and the fifth chapter are by far the best. It’s when Layers of Fear 2 unravels artistically, embraces the madness, and leaves us memorable moments. If you liked the first part, here you will find many of the ideas implemented in a new story, although the execution seems worse in some parts and, in general, a much more irregular experience.
We have prepared this review with a digital review code for the PS4 version provided by Terminal PR