Layers of Fear 2 Review – Ready, Set, Horror. Layers of Fear 2 doesn't have many scares to offer, but visual panache and a multitude of classic film homages make for an extraordinary journey—for the right person. When the original Layers of Fear released in 2016 it made a big impression. Finding a hidden gem that manages to surprise and scare is a guilty pleasure. For every piece of good work there's an analogous aspect that lacks focus and direction. During the first act you catch spectral forms out of the corner of your eye, and this eventually evolves into frequent appearances from crudely assembled mannequins and a formless monster that stalks you through much of the game. Still, Bloober Team’s rapidly proved itself as a master of psychological horror, using symbolism in ways most games don’t even attempt, let alone achieve. It occasionally hints at interesting themes but fails to go anywhere with them, falling back on telegraphed jump scares rather than delving deeper into the psychological horror it can only tease at. It's the perfect place for a ghost story. The Wizard of Oz sequence, for instance, dovetails with details about the actor’s bleak childhood. If you don’t have a certain frame of reference it’s all lost—seemingly random changes in tone, in color versus black-and-white, in setting. It was around four hours long and the scares came so thick and fast, even that short play time began to wear out its welco… Layers of Fear 2 looks to bring the scares to your summer, and it does deliver on that somewhat, but there is so much to discuss. It’s tempting at times to segment these games off into their own genre, to try and preempt pigeonholing. And there are certainly parallels, with Tony Todd’s gravel-voiced Director hoping to create his own Great Work. Layers of Fear 2 – Review . Layers of Fear 2 is a first-person psychological horror game with an emphasis on exploration and story. The score is ominous, utilizing string instruments … Layers of Fear 2 Review – Nautical Nightmares and Tidal Terror Layers of Fear 2 is the follow-up to indie developer Bloober Team’s sleeper horror hit, Layers of Fear. The story is too hazy to latch onto until the latter stages, and then nothing about it is particularly engaging, with its central mystery building towards something we've seen numerous times before. The creaking of wooden floorboards, rats scurrying past your feet, and the plip-plop of dripping water create tension despite their mundanity. Twitter. The art design, too, while disjointed, conjures some breathtaking imagery that you can't help but marvel at. Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Layers of Fear 2 is an astonishing feat of storytelling viewed through an off-kilter horror lens that Then I worry I’m reading too much into it. Layers of Fear 2 is a sequel to the horror hit that once took us through the mind of a tortured artist. Sometimes their appendages move as you inch closer. It's just a shame that Layers of Fear 2 frequently pays lip service to the films and games that clearly inspired it while struggling to find a voice of its own. Layers of Fear 2 is an enjoyable horror adventure, but rarely does anything new with the genre. That’s sort of the problem. Layers of Fear told the story of a painter gone mad. Layers of Fear 2 Review – Mannequins, Monsters, and Monotony This is a ship you might want to sink. The conundrums it places before you are never particularly challenging or memorable, whether it's using a dial with 10 numbers to multiply up to a specific digit or manipulating a roll of film to create a doorway. Players control a Hollywood actor who heeds the call of an enigmatic director to take on the lead role in a film shot aboard an ocean liner. You might not be able to put the whole picture together before the game's conclusion, but it's a familiar and clichéd tale that isn't too difficult to discern once events begin to wrap up. It is, perhaps, the solitude that gets to you first. Developer Bloober Team has created something more varied and ambitious than its past work, taking inspiration from iconic film directors like Georges Méliès, Fritz Lang, and Alfred Hitchcock. Equal parts unsettling, moving, and eerily beautiful, Layers of Fear 2 is an astonishing feat of storytelling viewed through an off-kilter horror lens that consistently surprised me. Make no mistake: It’s rarely frightening at all. For a while you shot the monsters, a la Resident Evil and Silent Hill. The exaggerated shadows of German Expressionism look splendid, but if you don’t understand the parallels between the character’s situation and say, Dr. Caligari or Nosferatu, then there’s a disconnect. All the glimmers of recognition, the moments where you thought you noticed a pattern? Layers of Fear 2 Review. When you walk into a room and find a locked door with nowhere else to go but back the way you came, the suspense hits, tapping into that fear of the unknown--of what's waiting to greet you once you turn your head. These creatures are unnerving, but they're not really specific to the game or this character, failing to capitalize on the strengths of psychological horror and the inherent importance of a character's fears and trepidations in manifesting intimate threats. Posted By Billy Givens | On 29th, May. Layers of Fear 2 is brilliant, and unfortunately it probably won’t be recognized as such because it defies genre definitions. It isn't the scariest game, but the unsettling nature of everything you encounter more than makes up for it. Layers of Fear 2 uses the strongest elements of interactive story telling to immerse you in a horrifying experience – atmosphere and playing with perspective. I want to talk about Layers of Fear 2 though—at your expense, perhaps. Some of them are deftly woven into the narrative and the game's own art style, but others lack context and fail to rise above being mere visual spectacles, foregoing any semblance of cohesion with the rest of the game. Like Observer, Layers of Fear 2 completely commits to a … Games can do the same, as evidenced by first Soma, then Layers of Fear and Observer. The aforementioned mannequins are consistently impressive due to their creepy stop-motion-esque movement, but they're featured so heavily that their effect as something to be scared of is severely diminished. They offer more than visual flair. And so if you want to go in blind (and you should) I recommend rereading the first sentence of this review and then walking away. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you have an appreciation for this era of cinema, but it also makes Layers of Fear 2 feel like an inconsequential mishmash of film references without any clear significance to the story it's trying to tell. SHARES. Each word he bellows is a sonorous treat, no matter how terrifying his performance is. Layers of Fear 2 is a fascinating horror game that centers on exploring a mysterious ship and its ever-changing layout. It’s a case of life reflecting art that the developers at Bloober Team are just as adept at creating a eviscerating experience as the game’s wicked “Director” is, taking the player through a punishing emotional gauntlet. Sometimes the monster's arrival comes so suddenly that you're dead before even realizing what's happened, and these cheap insta-kills mean you're frustratingly subjected to the same death animation over and over again. The story itself is like a jigsaw puzzle; some of the pieces come together as the narrative unfolds, but others are scattered across the environment as notes, optional puzzles, sound recordings, and paraphernalia that provide new details on your character's troubled past. An elevator opens up onto a city block, skyscrapers stretching into the mists above. The game is a sequel to 2016's Layers of Fear, and casts players as a mentally disturbed actor suffering post-traumatic stress as a result of childhood abuse. Much of Layers of Fear 2's art design is wrapped around the classic films that inspired it, which doesn't always come together in a consistent way. “The story is great, but I can’t tell you why for fear of spoiling it.” I’ve written some version of that sentence countless times, as recently as last week with Observation. Share this: Horror games have always been a favorite genre of mine. PCWorld |. Saying it takes place aboard a ship is a tad disingenuous, as the setting is constantly shifting and transporting you to a variety of disparate environments. Which brings us to Layers of Fear 2, a meticulously crafted homage to classic film that uses the visual language of horror to explore artistic creation—and specifically, acting—without uh...being scary. By Angad Singh on May 31, 2019 No Comments / 60479 views. Layers of Fear 2 Review – Manifesting Psychological Horror Where psychological horror often tends to go awry is when the horror isn’t psychological anymore. You’re the actor, and the whole premise of Layers of Fear 2 is that you’re one of the early adopters of the Method—which, as you probably know, asks actors to search for emotional truth within themselves in order to embody a role, or “Build the character,” a recurring mantra in Layers of Fear 2. Layers of Fear 2 takes place aboard a British cruise liner carving its way across the Atlantic Ocean. But there’s a rich horror tradition, one where the threats are mostly unseen or unknowable—The Thing, The Shining, The Omen, even In the Mouth of Madness and Jacob’s Ladder. Richard Wakeling There’s more important work to be done. So what if it’s not very scary? The point is: There’s intent, here. 6.5. These parlor tricks continue through the entire game, but they gradually grow more ambitious. Nobody uses the words “The Method” though. The usual inclination is to summarize as much as you can, then duck out with a vague value judgment and a promise to the reader. Dialogue contains occasional profanity in the form of words like “bulls--t,” “g-ddamn,” bastards,” and “f--k." Hell, plenty of people didn’t love In the Mouth of Madness either, especially at the time, but I think it’s one of John Carpenter’s best. Layers of Fear 2 is steeped in enough symbolism that these overreaches seem normal though—even encouraged. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. I’ve seen film circles struggle with the same questions of late, throwing around the term “post-horror” when discussing Get Out, Us, Haunting of Hill House, Hereditary, and more. Games Reporter, Myself, I wrote that Layers of Fear's follow-up Observer “wasn’t a horror game” when it released in 2017. Provided, of course, the player’s willing to meet it halfway. That’s my official stance. What Layers of Fear 2 does do well is build atmosphere and an ever-escalating sense of dread. It’s a tool, a process. While the original game focused on a struggling painter in an opulent Victorian mansion, Layers of Fear 2 shifts art forms to tell the story of a Hollywood actor during the Golden Age of cinema, as he embarks on a new role in a movie being shot aboard a decadent ocean liner. Layers of Fear 2 is building towards this moment where you realize it’s all intentional. And there are so many references to catch. Read our, Learn more about PCWorld's Digital Editions, Uses classic film references to craft a unique aesthetic, Uses symbolism and subtext to enhance an otherwise straightforward story, Plays off genre expectations, but doesn't deliver, Story can feel disjointed without context. None of the references are too obscure, to be fair, but they’re certainly not all common touchstones. Layers of Fear 2 is a love letter to the dark side of the classic cinemasphere that should be a blast for anyone who enjoys horror games and/or old movies. Layers of Fear 2’s film homages certainly make for unique visuals, and a surreal journey. Layers of Fear 2 has some seriously splendid puzzles that often help inform the events of the story. The score is ominous, utilizing string instruments to send a chill down your spine. Similarly, much of Layers of Fear 2's art design is wrapped around the classic films that inspired it, which doesn't always come together in a consistent way. GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers. Some, I’m not sure I’ll ever know for certain. Bloober … Your interactions with the world are very tangible, which helps ground you in the game's setting even when the threads of reality are stretched thinner and thinner. Or don’t, as may be. The setting is a visually striking homage to Hollywood's golden years, The story doesn't go far enough in tackling the themes it presents, Relies too heavily on the same elements throughout its protracted playtime. When it … What you do know though is that you’ve been invited on an ocean liner by a famed yet strange director (who’s voiced by the brilliant Tony Todd of Candyman fame) to take the lead role in a movie that’s being filmed on board. Unfortunately, these anxiety-inducing feelings diminish as the game progresses and it leans too heavily on tried and tested tactics. In 2016, writing about the original Layers of Fear, I asked “Can a horror game be successful if it never manages to scare?” and the same question dogs this sequel. Peel back the layers and there's a clear connective tissue tying Layers of Fear 2 and its predecessor together. Then you ran from monsters, a la Penumbra and Amnesia. Keeping with the film theme, creepy mannequins are scattered throughout the ship as if they are acting out scenes. In the original game, you played as a tortured painter shacked up in his home, struggling to finish his magnum opus as his mind slowly deteriorated into madness. The constant environmental changes designed to mess with you are amazing and one of the best aspects. In the sequel, you play as an actor on board a ship in the ocean, set to film the movie of a lifetime. Of course, nothing is as it seems, so is this a cruise you should go on or will you abandon ship before it’s over? © 2021 GAMESPOT, A RED VENTURES COMPANY. Pinterest. Layers of Fear 2 instead goes for the instant gratification of the shock scare right off the bat, rather than the slow, growing sense of unease and dread that can snowball over time. It builds, and at first the constant changes in tone and location seem random. You start Layers of Fear 2 on an ocean liner, but as with the first game the ship is an impossible Escher space where you exit a room and find yourself back inside, or double back to find a new hallway’s replaced the old. I think I might be in the minority on that one, and that’s fine. This decision doesn't coalesce with the story to provide a sense that your character's state of mind and past anguish are shaping what's happening. It also makes you hesitant to simply turn around, as the environment toys with impossible spaces, distorting the world around you when you're not looking. This is a problem with Layers of Fear 2 as a whole; the protracted playtime of around 10 hours struggles to maintain its early momentum through the last couple of chapters. Find out in our full review! Thus people (naturally) assumed Layers of Fear 2 did the same, but with cinema. What parents need to know. And while it is a visually striking horror game, Layers of Fear 2 struggles to establish its own identity and explore its themes of anguish and despair in meaningful ways. There is a pattern. Note, it’s very hard to explain any of this without referencing specific examples or ruining the process of putting together this story yourself. Parents need to know that Layers of Fear 2 is a downloadable survival horror game for Windows PCs. Angela DiLella - May 29, 2019. 0. Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc. You did. Layers of Fear 2 by Bloober Team piggybacks off the formula of the first Layers of Fear and the absolutely fantastic Observer. It’s no secret that film and the status of celebrity can do something to a person. Layers of Fear 2 is a brilliant work of art. It takes time, though. So again: Layers of Fear 2 is brilliant. Overt homages to films such as The Wizard of Oz, A Trip to the Moon, and Nosferatu are littered throughout the game. Even for those who catch every reference, it’s still something of a challenge to sift through them—especially in the moment, connecting various motifs to the two or three story arcs playing out simultaneously in past and present, and (for the most part) tied to collectible items. August 09, 2019 Justin Celani 0 . Layers of Fear 2 is impressive to look at and listen to but like so many games in its genre, it feels sterile. Problem is, “horror” has always been one of the more one-note game genres, perhaps because the medium came of age during the slasher era and its decades-long death rattle. You aren’t playing Tony Todd though. Others follow, from Melies’ Trip to the Moon to The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Nosferatu, Casablanca, and so on. Layers of Fear 2 shows a superb level of craftsmanship for a horror title. Richard wrapped on Layers of Fear 2 in around 10 hours. There have been plenty of books and films on the topic, not to mention the actual examples that we see like clockwork in real life. The majority of your time is spent simply exploring each space, gathering knick-knacks to fill in the story, and solving puzzles to progress. I started to understand around the time I saw Metropolis, or “Mechanopolis” as it’s called on the in-game poster. My mistake. The Trip to the Moon segment adapts the iconic rocket-hitting-the-moon sequence so it also reflects the father’s wartime injury, which left him with only one working eye. Layers of Fear 2 is steeped in enough symbolism that these overreaches seem normal though—even encouraged. A horror game at its heart, Layers of Fear 2 ramps up the sense of dread slowly, but with purpose. Layers of Fear 2 lends itself to multiple replays, catching references or visual tricks you missed the first time when you were distracted more by the mechanics of playing it. Layers of Fear 2 is striking in its unsettling places, but is a looser experience than its predecessor, losing the player with busywork puzzles and winding corridors. Be that for the photo-realistic house of horrors Bloober had lovingly crafted. In fact, when Layers of Fear 2 does fall back on jump scares or clumsy chase sequences, those are its worst moments. What Layers of Fear 2 does do well is build atmosphere and an ever-escalating sense of dread. Layers of Fear 2 Review: Stunning Scenery But Seldomly Scary Layers of Fear 2 ups the ante from the original game's haunted house simulator style of horror, but that still leaves it all feeling too scripted to instill any real sense of dread. This manifests similar to madness, with constant flashbacks and disorienting geography, but it’s not. Bumps in the dark. Share Tweet. In many ways it’s the kind of game that would be perfect in VR. The formless creature that oftentimes stalks you adds some urgency to what is otherwise a methodical affair, but the most terrifying thing about the chase sequences is the threat of having to redo them if you fail. By. Layers of Fear 2 switches up that slow-burn horror with jumpscares leaving me dreading chase sequences. Or the wackiest hallucination scenes -- possibly -- ever seen in gaming. Google+. But there are also plenty of opportunities for the sound design to breathe on its own, too. Lights, camera, action! Layers of Fear 2, by comparison, feels bereft of original ideas. 2019 Under Article , Reviews However, I wasn’t dreading them out of fear, but annoyance. WhatsApp. I prefer to take my time creeping through horror titles, not dashing through so quickly that I don’t get to absorb the environments. Layers of Fear 2 sees you summoned to the ship because you are auditioning or filming for a big part in a movie. The escalation—the increasing detachment from reality—mirrors the actor’s process, as they lose their identity in favor of digging deeper into the character. Hell, even in the process of writing this review, I’ve had multiple realizations, along the likes of “Oh that’s why such-and-such happened.”. But more than that, they convey elements of the character’s personality and history by drawing on the audience’s knowledge. Layers of Fear 2 puts you in the shoes of a famed actor who has had a troubling time as of late, though the details of what exactly has been going on are a little sparse. As you walk from a sepia-hued kitchen into a facsimile of the Emerald City, the implication is that the actor took refuge in both film and in their own imagination, an escape from their abusive home life. Yet Layers of Fear also made an impression for its occasionally disappointing nature. Childhood trauma is the key motif, built around the relationship you had with your sister, but Layers of Fear 2 regularly uses routine horror tropes as opposed to something more personal. Hayden writes about games for PCWorld and doubles as the resident Zork enthusiast. And its approach to horror feels like a step back. Layers of Fear 2 feels lost at sea. Great work. A refreshing change, that latter, but still fundamentally more of the same vein of horror. Layers of Fear 2 is over and done in less than 6 hours. There are remnants of an excellent horror game submerged just below the surface of Layers of Fear 2. I don’t need to spoil every reference. Without it, you’d come to a completely different (lesser) understanding of the story being told. Facebook. At all. The biggest thing a horror game needs to do is create the right kind of atmosphere to instill the player with the right amount of fear for what is to come. A door projected from film onto the wall turns into a real doorway. Matthew Wojciow Jun 10, 2019 0. Layers of Fear 2. Rather, it relies on the audience having certain knowledge of film, film production, and film history in order to connect the dots. PCWorld helps you navigate the PC ecosystem to find the products you want and the advice you need to get the job done. Some of them are in keeping with the tone of the game and its cinematic feel, but others are so inane they just feel out of place. Layers of Fear 2 also has more traditional scares than the original. Both the iconic factory scene and clock make an appearance, the first time I realized Layers of Fear 2 was borrowing scenes from film history directly. Review code was provided by the publisher. There’s an extended sequence in the ship’s engine room for instance, and I’m pretty sure some of the machinery was designed to resemble an oversized 35mm camera. Horror icon Tony Todd--of Candyman fame--lends his bassy growl to the disembodied and omnipresent voice of the film's eccentric director. The jump scares are a bit overdone, same as the original Layers of Fear, and there’s an abysmal chase sequence in the second act that could’ve been cut completely. Layers of Fear 2 Review. Like Observer, Layers of Fear 2 completely commits to a theme—the visuals, the narrative, the audio—and a much grander story is created in the spaces where these elements meet. A normal suburban kitchen opens onto woods, with a glimmer of opulence in the distance. on May 24, 2019 at 1:22PM PDT. 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