Layers of Fear (2023) Review

The Bloober Team, the infamous Polish studio, recently piqued the gaming world’s curiosity with its resurrection of the eerie Layers of the Fear saga, and it’s all everyone can talk about. The fresh graphics and expanded content have certainly made an impact. The studio’s chummy collaboration with Konami to refresh the spine-chilling Silent Hill 2 has undoubtedly kept the spotlight shining bright on them. After all, refurbishing this iconic game for today’s audience is not for the faint of heart!

What’s up with this new Layers of Fear?

The once-named Layers of Fears, later rebranded Layers of Fear (for an extra pinch of confusion), serves as a big platter of hair-raising horror adventures for game enthusiasts. The saga combines the original 2016 game Layers of Fear, its sequel Layers of Fear 2, their downloadable goodies, and a brand new narrative called The Writer, which ties everything together in the Bloober universe. The entire pack, now adorned with stunning Unreal Engine 5 graphics and nifty features, is akin to a funhouse of terror.

Prepare to plunge headfirst into the turbulent minds of tormented artists, solve mind-bending puzzles, and fight – or not fight – eldritch enemies. The combat is now optional, which should please the pacifists among us. It’s pretty straightforward, anyways – just shine your light on the baddies and press a button to send them into oblivion, Alan Wake style but without any follow-up shooting. It certainly adds a bit of spice, but it’s good to have the option to play without it, right?

The Fearsome Encounters

While the writer’s narrative links everything together, Layers of Fear lets you explore multiple storylines – the painter, the daughter, the pianist, the actor, and the writer. As we dive in, let’s start with the first title. You see, evaluating a game isn’t as easy as it sounds. In the murky world of subjectivity, countless factors can skew our perception. With Layers of Fear, we initially had doubts after an icy reception, but after playing this remaster, we’re back on board with the same enthusiasm as when we first braved the game in 2016.

The dazzling brilliance of the original game somehow makes its sequel look a tad dull, especially when played back-to-back. Don’t get us wrong; the sequel isn’t half-bad. However, it lacks the same cunning planning, compelling narrative, and creative ideas. Thankfully, the sequel wraps up with a pretty satisfying endgame. The option to turn off enemy attacks in the sequel seems like a Godsend, given that it was arguably the most frustrating part of Layers of Fear 2. We appreciate that it’s optional, though!

As for the downloadable content, it’s pretty delightful. Diving deeper into the lore of the painter and his family offers fascinating insights and keeps things fresh compared to the main narratives. These other narratives are shorter, but they add a bit of spice to the mix. The writer’s story mainly ties the stories together and isn’t much of an “adventure” per se. It’s more like a narrative binder that holds everything together.

Worth noting is that each of the four narratives gives players the liberty to chart their path, some more explicitly than others. A chapter selection menu allows players to make different decisions at various points in each story and observe how it impacts the game’s development – and this is all independent from the main story’s saved game. This significant detail keeps us from replaying the game to experience these changes.

We must point out that the remaster seems to miss an opportunity to address a major flaw of the series: a note-based narrative. This storytelling method was slightly outdated in 2016 and feels pretty antiquated now. These notes are essential to understand the plot, and the translation doesn’t always hit the mark, leading to the potential loss of critical details.

Fear Fueled by Unreal Engine 5

Layers of Fear is one of the first games to showcase Unreal Engine 5, and Bloober promised breathtaking graphics. Yes, the game looks fantastic, but we dare to say that it doesn’t quite deliver on the high expectations set. Thanks to the saga’s artistic flair, it’s visually stunning but not the mind-blowing generational leap we expected. Considering the relatively confined setting of the game, we’re a little surprised that Bloober didn’t push the engine’s capabilities further.

The lighting, ray tracing, and particle effects are top-notch, just not revolutionary. The silver lining is that the game runs flawlessly at 60 frames per second and 4K resolution on the PS5. The sound quality continues to be stellar. It masterfully uses silence to set the tone, startling us when least expected. The discreet background score beautifully complements the atmospheric sounds.

Final Thoughts

The remastering of games that already looked good seems to be a growing trend, and in this case, it comes with bonus content and a new story arc to stitch the universe together. We would have liked more ambition in fixing the series’ issues, such as the document-based narrative, but overall, it’s an engaging rollercoaster ride for horror fans. The original installment outshines the rest, but the whole saga still provides an entertaining experience. A delightfully frightening remaster it is!

We prepared this review with a review for the PS5 version of the title provided by Evolve PR.



As far as I can remember, I've been surrounded by technology. My father bought us a Commodore 64 so I started playing games as a baby, following my passion with Amiga 500, then PC and so on. I love game related collectibles, and when I'm not collecting I review games, watch movies and TV Shows or you may catch me keeping a low profile at Game Events.

1 Comment

  1. Very insightful article! Its great to see such well-researched content. Lets talk more about this. Click on my nickname!

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