Layers of Fear starts out feeling a lot like a Frictional Games (Amnesia, Soma) game, even using the same basic interface with all the drawer and door pulling and note finding and such, but instead of being chased by monsters in the dark you are faced with an almost constantly changing environment. After a deceptively slow beginning where you just wander around some areas of this house a bit, strange things start happening.
At first it’s just little things. Strange noises, objects moving around strangely, and maybe the furniture and etc has entirely rearranged itself when your back is turned. All you really know is that you’re in a weird house and you seem to be a painter with a mysterious past, as you’ll slowly piece together through various notes and objects you find. Are you having a supernatural encounter or are you just losing your mind? I won’t give it away, but what does it look like to you?
This is only a taste of just how crazy things get too. The more you play, the more reality seems to completely unravel on you. The house becomes a twisted maze that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere except into even more bizarre environments as reality and physics seem to pretty much fly out the window. Every time you so much as turn around you may find yourself in a completely different place…
…and every time you think you’ve seen all the tricks up the games’ sleeves, it twists you around into an unexpected, new piece of craziness. It’s an impressive feat that the game manages to be so consistently entertaining and surprising, especially when there isn’t really much gameplay to speak of. There are very few puzzles. All you really do is walk around, but I was never bored. I don’t usually like “walking simulators”, but I wouldn’t call this one either, despite it technically falling into that category. When someone uses that term it usually involves a lot of nothing but wandering around pretty, but static environments where nothing really happens outside of reading notes, and while you may not be in control of it very often, there is almost always something happening here.
I think my only complaint is that the controls felt a little clunky on a controller. It didn’t feel anywhere near as smooth as say, Soma, and getting your pointer placed just right could be slightly frustrating at times, but not bad enough to really take away from the enjoyment. It’s a pretty short game, only 3-5 hours or so, depending on how much exploring you try to do, but it felt like just the right length for something like this. It’s a very memorable horror experience and I hope we see more like this from these guys, as they sure showed a ridiculous amount of potential with this first horror game. In short, if you like horror games, check this the fuck out, yo.