Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Gun Media
Release date: 28/05/19
Official page: https://layersoffear2.com/
I really love a good horror game and a psychological one at that so I couldn’t wait to get into Layers Of Fear 2. Let’s see what I thought when I delved into it…
Lights, Camera, Action!
So, I’ll start with a little backstory just so you get the feel of the setup and what is happening.
The player is placed as an actor in the golden age of Hollywood who heeds the call of a director aboard an ocean liner. You hear the booming director’s voice (superbly lended by Candyman Tony Todd) and it is clear that all is not as it seems on the lifeless ship. Yes, you read it correct, I said lifeless, we are effectively aboard a ghost ship! At this point, we don’t even know how we wound up on the ship for this strange role but that arc is superbly intertwined with other mysterious stories and the many layers are there to see in a both satisfying and eerie way.
Everything is wonderfully dark, mysterious and eerie
One of the main storylines is of Lily and James, siblings who pretended to be pirates on the ship. You will go around the ship, exploring and picking up objects which will give you clues to the siblings experiences that took place there. Everything is swathed in mystery though and this for me, was excellent. I loved the mystery and the not knowing what took place aboard the ship but as said, the stories entwine beautifully to create a wholesome arc.
Exploration and solving puzzles is key to finding out what happened
A big part that really excelled throughout the game was the writing which was so sharp. The director who acts as a narrator on our journey will yell out a lot of things, some are quite random and seem somewhat delirious but it plays wonderfully into the strange and eeriness of the game. After a while, the crazy monologues even had me on side and believing for a moment that it was pure genius being said rather then nonsensical ramblings.
Beautiful and changing scenery
Just touching on the ocean liner setting and I think it makes a great location. The attention to detail is fantastic and equally beautiful but just hiding under its surface is a darkness and strangeness that will keep you eagerly aware and on your toes. Bloober Team use the setting fantastically and to its full extent.
Another great touch by them is how the setting and scenery can alter as well as their use of mannequins. I mean, mannequins are creepy when used correctly and believe me, they are used correctly here! So, touching on the scenery and when it changed for the first time whilst I was playing, I was completely thrown and disoriented which is the purpose and completely worked. One minute, I was walking down a corridor, the next, I turn around and it’s suddenly morphed into something else. My initial thought was ‘oh no, what did I do?’, I was completely thrown but then it continued in the imaginative dream-like vein and I was in awe. The game had managed to completely throw me off and then re-hook me with the wonderful dream-like installations. The good thing about the new dream-like installations is that they produce new environments like ominous gardens, labyrinths and skyscrapers which in turn keeps it fresh and new and remains remarkable throughout the whole game.
The use of light greatly exacerbates the potential horrors lurking before you
So, moving on to the use of mannequins and as said, if used correctly, they are creepy. The great thing that Bloober Team does in this game is collaborate the change of scenery with lots of mannequins and it is truly an unsettling and strangely beautiful spectacle each time. Keeping with the Hollywood theme, you will find mannequins set out as if they are filming scenes themselves and as you edge closer to inspect, they may move slightly which, of course, made me jump.
The simplicity of black and white can really up the tension and anxiousness
I remember one specific scene in the game which combined both mannequin and scenery change and I was searching through a cabin. On the wall above the bed was a mannequin and each time I turned away and then turned back, it had moved or more precisely, it crawled along the wall. I didn’t want to take my eyes off it for fear of it crawling again but I had to get out of there somehow!
A pair of mannequins sat as if acting out a scene – approach with caution
Besides the psychological scares coming from the mannequins and the ever-changing environment, there is also sometimes a bizarre and bubbling monster which appears in place of a mannequin. Like I’m not on tenterhooks enough, they have to throw in a monster for good measure! The monster will chase you, causing you to run, slamming doors as you go hoping for the pursuit to stop. If you are caught then you instantly die but just keep running long enough and you’ll get away. Phew!
Multiple endings and replayability
Without realising, there is some critical choice-based moments that seem easy to miss and will trigger alternate-endings. Unfortunately, you can’t replay acts so if you wish to revisit, you’ll have to do so in a new game+ which you unlock after first completion. However, you’ll still have to know what you are looking for to ensure you do things differently and get a different ending.
As you change acts, the ship also changes and you can access more of the strange vessel
Speaking of acts, the game consists of five and lasts around 8 hours which to be honest, flew right by for me. As said, you’ll have to start a new game+ to get the alternate endings but I was totally fine with having a re-run at it again. I was fully engrossed in the game and just craved more.
Please see below for the trailer:
This key was supplied by Bloober Team for the purpose of this review.