If in the first Layers of Fear we embody a painter in an old mansion, his sequel follows the trail on a transatlantic and in the skin of an actor. There are things that have changed and other things that have not, and we all break them down in the analysis of Layers of Fear 2.
I think there are as many terror activators as there are people. That is why gender affects us in such different ways. Some are terrified of viscerality, while others are more psychological. In my case, I am able to watch any scary movie without much trouble, but there are certain horror games that I can not. That I was trapped by Debilitas or Daniella in Haunting Ground, for example, was too much for me, since my actions were the culprits or not of my survival and that terrified me. Maybe because of that, I have been able to get the PT experience quite well, because survival was not a key factor. In the first Layers of Fear neither, and for that reason the player lost along his route certain fear to the terrifying moment. Just like in an amusement park when you know that the actors are forbidden to touch you, you had a certain sense of “invulnerability”.
I think that for that reason, for knowing how invulnerable when you should feel fragile, is why Layers of Fear 2 has varied some concepts with respect to the original game. The premise is still very similar, substituting a painter for an actor and the classic mansion for a luxurious transatlantic. The narrative approach, also exactly the same, that will be familiar to veteran players. More than traversing the physical space of the ocean liner, we dive into the psychological layers of our protagonist. An introspection to the internal fears that the Bloober Team studio manages well, although it polarizes the player enough according to their tastes.
Try to put the player in a more vulnerable than his first delivery
Therefore, Layers of Fear 2 follows the premise of being a walking simulator, for lack of a better name that defines it, full of moments for the jump scare, while we are revealing little by little the story. Of the criticisms that the original work had, this linearity, relying on the easiest scare of all, may have been the least approached, but its other criticisms have been listened to more closely
But as I said, Layers of Fear 2 does try to put the player in a more vulnerable than his first delivery, and that does so by creating a monster that will chase us and of course, we can not cope. Only to flee or, in some very isolated case, to hide. It is not a game mechanic in itself since space is so linear that the solution to the conflict is really easy, but it helps to generate haste and a feeling of helplessness that the first game lacked.
The extension of the adventure, its duration, has also been extended, going from two or three hours to seven or eight unless you try to explore the few alternative paths in search of all the notes that you add (although sometimes not ) more details to its history. He gets it, everything is said, based on seeing much of the same scenario that, although embelesa in the first portion of the trip, ends up becoming something repetitive due to some resources that the game ends up wearing, such as trying to open a closed door to the end of a corridor, to turn around and the scenario has completely changed.
A trip with more layers
replayability was also a debatable factor, and this time Bloober has relied more on the decisions to get some players to take a second round on the boat, prepared in a New Match +. Something that, those who really want to discover all the nuances of its history, should do, then in the first game, I would say that it is practically impossible to understand one hundred percent the decisions you are taking along the five chapters that make up the videogame.
Only in the last of these episodes, when the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit, is when the player can begin to understand each of the paths he has taken. A decision certainly risky for those who only plan to play once Layers of Fear 2, but can enrich the later games. Of course, it will only do so in a narrative way and in the search for notes and collectibles, since there are no game mechanics that vary the experience.
Of the puzzles, one of lime and another of sand. Some basic pecan and not even try to be imaginative, beyond a few turns to find the combination of a lock. But sometimes it manages to fuse well the surrealism of the images with these puzzles creating scenes that we would have liked to see much more. Some as simple as passing frames in an old project to reveal doors, for example, that perfectly captures the spirit of the work and involve the player.
Taking advantage of the closed environment, the game manages to build scenarios that sometimes border on hyperrealism.
If the first Layers of Fear managed to surprise technically by making very good use of the Unity engine, this time Layers of Fear 2 is passed to the Unreal Engine 4to do the same on some occasions. Taking advantage of the closed environment, both in the transatlantic and in the most psychedelic moments, the game manages to build scenarios that sometimes border on hyperrealism. At other times, his abuse of black and white comes to take its toll. When it is justified by history it becomes more bearable, but when it is used to camouflage detail or repetition of scenarios, the result is not so good. Technically, the game achieves a good performance not only in PC but in consoles, something with which its first delivery had more problems. The versions of Xbox One X and Ps4 Pro reach the frame rate of 60 frames without any problems. The experience I have had in an Xbox One X has always been perfect, which allows even modifying the FOV without slowdowns. When will the version of Layers of Fear 2 for Nintendo Switch come? It remains a mystery.
It is said that all history, especially when it is very symbolic and difficult to follow, needs a grounding. It is usually a character that helps the reader, spectator, or in this case player, not to get lost. Very few creators are able to maintain a high symbolic level without grounding in their works, as for example, David Lynch does in his films. And even then it is likely that many viewers feel misplaced with his filmography. Layers of Fear 2 plays in this league. Do not expect a chewed content to follow your story, you’re warned. Even following the notes we collect for this inner journey, the answers arrive late and without going through the sieve. But if you get to the end of the road, even if you start it again, it is possible that you feel rewarded in a different way from the one we are used to in the modern culture of the spoiler, which seeks more the surprise than the delight in the details. There is something of that in Layers of Fear 2, as there was in his first installment. He accommodates himself in the easy scare and in linearity that does not get many benefits, and it’s a shame because Bloober knows how to create a great atmosphere and accompany it with delicious music. But at the end of the road, the progress and experience of the study are noted. More and more layers of incipient brilliance are perceived.
Bloober respects the formula created in the original for this Layers of Fear 2, changing the scenario, but maintaining its focus of terror. That means a lot of linearities, a lot of repeated recourse and a lot of jump scare, but also lessons learned. A feeling of being less invulnerable. More justified replayability and narration with more layers of depth.
- Decisions and narrative layers that give depth and replay value to the story
- A feeling of helplessness more achieved
- Very successful ambiance…
- … although sometimes it repeats materials and aesthetic resources
- Linearity that takes little advantage
- Keep leaning too much on the easy scare