Layers of Fear 2 is impressive to look at and listen to but like so many games in its genre, it feels sterile. 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. I prefer to take my time creeping through horror titles, not dashing through so quickly that I don’t get to absorb the environments. An elevator opens up onto a city block, skyscrapers stretching into the mists above. Keeping with the film theme, creepy mannequins are scattered throughout the ship as if they are acting out scenes. For a while you shot the monsters, a la Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Others follow, from Melies’ Trip to the Moon to The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Nosferatu, Casablanca, and so on. Posted By Billy Givens | On 29th, May. “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. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 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.”. Pinterest. Layers of Fear 2 sees you summoned to the ship because you are auditioning or filming for a big part in a movie. 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. The point is: There’s intent, here. The score is ominous, utilizing string instruments … 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. Layers of Fear 2 takes place aboard a British cruise liner carving its way across the Atlantic Ocean. I think I might be in the minority on that one, and that’s fine. You aren’t playing Tony Todd though. Google+. Layers of Fear 2 is a fascinating horror game that centers on exploring a mysterious ship and its ever-changing layout. 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. Layers of Fear 2 Review – Mannequins, Monsters, and Monotony This is a ship you might want to sink. © 2021 GAMESPOT, A RED VENTURES COMPANY. Layers of Fear 2 is a brilliant work of art. Beware, for all may not truly be what it seems. 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. 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. 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. Angela DiLella - May 29, 2019. By. 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 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. Layers of Fear 2 – Review . It's the perfect place for a ghost story. There is a pattern. 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. Layers of Fear 2. There’s more important work to be done. You did. 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 majority of your time is spent simply exploring each space, gathering knick-knacks to fill in the story, and solving puzzles to progress. There are remnants of an excellent horror game submerged just below the surface of Layers of Fear 2. Richard wrapped on Layers of Fear 2 in around 10 hours. 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. Note, it’s very hard to explain any of this without referencing specific examples or ruining the process of putting together this story yourself. 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. 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. Twitter. Layers of Fear 2 Review. For every piece of good work there's an analogous aspect that lacks focus and direction. 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? 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. Facebook. That’s my official stance. Finding a hidden gem that manages to surprise and scare is a guilty pleasure. The art design, too, while disjointed, conjures some breathtaking imagery that you can't help but marvel at. Rather, it relies on the audience having certain knowledge of film, film production, and film history in order to connect the dots. 6.5. That’s sort of the problem. PCWorld helps you navigate the PC ecosystem to find the products you want and the advice you need to get the job done. I don’t need to spoil every reference. 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. The constant environmental changes designed to mess with you are amazing and one of the best aspects. However, I wasn’t dreading them out of fear, but annoyance. 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. 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. So what if it’s not very scary? My mistake. Richard Wakeling Share this: Horror games have always been a favorite genre of mine. 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. Hayden writes about games for PCWorld and doubles as the resident Zork enthusiast. 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. A horror game at its heart, Layers of Fear 2 ramps up the sense of dread slowly, but with purpose. 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. It isn't the scariest game, but the unsettling nature of everything you encounter more than makes up for it. In the sequel, you play as an actor on board a ship in the ocean, set to film the movie of a lifetime. Layers of Fear 2 also has more traditional scares than the original. Layers of Fear 2 by Bloober Team piggybacks off the formula of the first Layers of Fear and the absolutely fantastic Observer. Like Observer, Layers of Fear 2 completely commits to a … 2019 Under Article , Reviews In many ways it’s the kind of game that would be perfect in VR. A refreshing change, that latter, but still fundamentally more of the same vein of horror. Layers of Fear 2’s film homages certainly make for unique visuals, and a surreal journey. 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. 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. When the original Layers of Fear released in 2016 it made a big impression. Dialogue contains occasional profanity in the form of words like “bulls--t,” “g-ddamn,” bastards,” and “f--k." It takes time, though. Layers of Fear 2 is steeped in enough symbolism that these overreaches seem normal though—even encouraged. The creaking of wooden floorboards, rats scurrying past your feet, and the plip-plop of dripping water create tension despite their mundanity. 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. 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. Thus people (naturally) assumed Layers of Fear 2 did the same, but with cinema. 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. They offer more than visual flair. Then I worry I’m reading too much into it. Layers of Fear 2 feels lost at sea. Layers of Fear 2 switches up that slow-burn horror with jumpscares leaving me dreading chase sequences. Layers of Fear 2 Review. Myself, I wrote that Layers of Fear's follow-up Observer “wasn’t a horror game” when it released in 2017. 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. 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. Bloober … 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. 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. Without it, you’d come to a completely different (lesser) understanding of the story being told. Layers of Fear 2 is steeped in enough symbolism that these overreaches seem normal though—even encouraged. Parents need to know that Layers of Fear 2 is a downloadable survival horror game for Windows PCs. It is, perhaps, the solitude that gets to you first. And there are so many references to catch. 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. 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. All the glimmers of recognition, the moments where you thought you noticed a pattern? 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. What Layers of Fear 2 does do well is build atmosphere and an ever-escalating sense of dread. 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. 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. Great work. 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. The score is ominous, utilizing string instruments to send a chill down your spine. 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. 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. Bumps in the dark. 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. I want to talk about Layers of Fear 2 though—at your expense, perhaps. None of the references are too obscure, to be fair, but they’re certainly not all common touchstones. Layers of Fear 2 is a sequel to the horror hit that once took us through the mind of a tortured artist. Layers of Fear 2 is an astonishing feat of storytelling viewed through an off-kilter horror lens that Find out in our full review! 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. Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc. Nobody uses the words “The Method” though. Layers of Fear 2 is an enjoyable horror adventure, but rarely does anything new with the genre. 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. Yet Layers of Fear also made an impression for its occasionally disappointing nature. Layers of Fear 2, by comparison, feels bereft of original ideas. 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. Layers of Fear 2 is brilliant, and unfortunately it probably won’t be recognized as such because it defies genre definitions. Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Provided, of course, the player’s willing to meet it halfway. Layers of Fear 2 has some seriously splendid puzzles that often help inform the events of the story. 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. 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. So again: Layers of Fear 2 is brilliant. 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. 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