I love, love, LOVED the first Layers of Fear game. Like the first game, Layers of Fear 2 is essentially what people would refer to as a “walking simulator.” However, I feel like the developers have basically created their own sub-genre, a “haunted house simulator.” At least, that is the very best possible way to describe it.
Sure, there is story, characters, music, and mystery layered in (pun fun), and they’re enjoyable. But, by far, the heart and enjoyment of these games is the haunted house aspect. I have to imagine that the level designers of the game and people that physically build real haunted houses, in creative terms, must think and work very similarly, when mapping out these environments.
Of course, Layers of Fear 2 isn’t restricted by the laws of physics as in real life; the sky is the limit in terms of imagination, which is what led me to compare it to A Nightmare on Elm Street in my review of the first game. This time, however, they went for something more structured and story-driven.
The game is just as beautiful as the first, but with a bigger budget (presumably), they’ve also made a much longer game, with a more intimate score (which I hope is released at some point), and hired talent with the likes of horror icon Tony Todd lending his Candyman voice to the game. I could have sworn that the kid from Humans was also a voice actor in the game, but the boy was voiced by an unknown actor, James Watts.
There were many other great movie and TV references and homages this time as well, including:
Additionally, I found references to, and influences by: Twin Peaks, Dracula, The Thing, and other classic black and white films. Some parts of the game would fade in and out of black and white, which was really cool, artistically-speaking.
How scary was the game, and what did it all mean?
It was scary, and there were some really good jump-scares and being-chased scares, but I would only put it in the top 20 scariest games of all-time (still quite an achievement mind you), unlike the first, which I would probably put in the top 5. But, I think it was intentional, like I said, there was more focus on story this time.
In the first game, you were a tortured painter; this time, a tortured actor. Depending on which ending you get, seems to drastically alter what the meaning of the game was, and what events were real.
The ending I got was to basically kneel before a demon, making me think that perhaps I was James, who was abused as child by his father because of his father’s hatred for him as the result of the wife/mother dying during childbirth. As the events were laid out in the story, it seemed that James, being mentally and physically abused, grew up to become a serial killer, and who eventually murdered his sister Lily.
And the acting thing was only a fantasy, something James used to escape reality. From the grief of murdering his sister, he went mad trying to find a way to bring her back, and either actually did through the occult, which consequently brought back evil spirits or demons and trapped him into a sort of hell, or it was all just in his head. Personally, I think he really did summon a demon in an attempt to bring his sister back. I think that was the true ending.
However, the other 2 endings reveal you as either being the brother or the sister, and that you really were just an actor all along, with perhaps some skeletons in the closet and losing yourself to going too deeply into method acting, sure, but with nothing supernatural going on. I’ll see if I can’t get an answer from someone who worked on the game, but of course, it’s up to you to decide for yourself…
Snaps of My Journey Through the Game
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