Survival horror games nowadays have become somewhat of a pain in my arse.
They can either be bloody brilliant or they can be a pile of wank, following the lazy suit of found-footage movies with their camcorder premise and lack of imagination to the point where you end up with Resident Evil 7 which was nothing more, really, than a running away simulator.
Though Layers of Fear, the story of a self-destructive artist, doesn’t exactly branch out too far from this premise either, it does however have a good boat-load of staying power, and here’s why.
LOF doesn’t try to be anything else other than what it came to be in the first place by throwing you in at the deep end and saying, “the story is here, but it’s your job to find it” and you know what? It works bloody well. Immediately, you are set off to go walkies (or limpies, if you would) through a house that is this big (see outstretched arms for more information), with more secrets than rooms and more bumps in the night than a sleepover at the Glitter residence.
The visuals are stunning but not nearly as much as the atmosphere, which seeing as this is an independent game only makes it even more impressive! There are plenty of horror movie clichés to be expected throughout, but in all honesty, seeing as this is a game, I think it only adds to the charm, leaving you in a state where you’re so scared that you start laughing to yourself out loud in an attempt to try and comfort yourself. Quite why it feels like it'll help is anyone's guess, but I'm not a doctor.
The controls are a little clunky, but it feels deliberate as a ploy to add to the tension when it comes to trying to flee from something very slowly, only to leave you fumbling and looking over your shoulder when you’re trying to open a door to your escape.
The story mechanics are also very good in the sense that it is spread far and wide in the form of notes written by either yourself, your wife or various newspaper articles littered throughout the house, and if you are to find out more about what is going on, it is left to the player to find out instead of being forced on you.
Plus, it has a consequential function where your choices matter and make a difference, giving this already good game an extra dose of replay value.
Aaron's Spoiler-Free Verdict: All in all, an impressive visual and psychological horror that is a creepy as it is weird. 6.5/10
He's also the rotten apple of the group who thinks this whole Star Wars thing needs to hurry up and die already.
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