Game Review: Layers of Fear 2

Release date: 2019
Version played: Xbox Series X in 2022

The sequel to 2016’s Layer’s of Fear, once again developed by Bloober Team is Layers of Fear 2. A first person horror game, players take control of a reclusive actor as they accept the role of a lifetime onboard a seemingly abandoned cruise liner. Simultaneously, audio cues and discarded items chronicle the story of young James and Lily, who are playing pretend as pirates.

+ the story makes a surprising amount of sense and I was able to make a good guess as to the central mystery as I played and found objects. The frequency and variety of the clues keeps things interesting, and there is lots of good environmental storytelling to help flesh things out. The first game was seemingly attempting to fill the void left by P.T., but this sequel appears to want to stand on its own
+ the unseen director growls with a voice that only the inimitable Tony Todd could provide. It’s of course up to you whether you follow his direction, but don’t be surprised when someone that sounds like that doesn’t appreciate being ignored. In fact, all of the sound is great, especially when played using some good headphones
+ much like the first game, the graphics are gorgeous and the way the environment changes when you look away is still satisfying. There are multiple points where I was compelled to take a screenshot, thought I can’t add most of them here for fear of spoilers. I might say this is scarier than the first game, if only because there is more than just jump scares, but see below regarding my one major gripe

– the first time I was chased by an enemy, I about soiled my pants. The 20th time, I just sighed and went about my business. It’s no secret that horror is only scary until you know what the consequence is, and the consequence here is pretty much nothing. At least there is no ear-splitting screech this time, and there was no need to ever ‘ruin and hide in a closet’ like so many other games like this

> it is both a positive and a negative, but there are very limited puzzles. This is essentially a spooky walking simulator featuring puzzles, rather than a puzzle game featuring spooks
> as I was playing this, it was announced Bloober will handle the Silent Hill 2 remake. By no means is this a recipe for gold but between this game and The Medium, I might say I’m cautiously optimistic

Should you play this game: This sequel was significantly better than the first game. The story was engaging, and spooks were less about jump scares and I was overall satisfied as a horror experience. I happily recommend this to fans of the first person horror genre.

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