Keeping to the classic cryptic and crazy style that Bloober Team is known for from the first Layers of Fear game. Layers of Fear 2 is a journey through a ship and your mind as you try to navigate through the madness that surrounds every step of the way. Once again they brought out the feeling of never knowing what will happen next, if you can even tell what is actually happening at any given moment in the first place.
As an actor set up to film your next role that is to be on board a ship, your only job is to get into character. However, how many characters can one portray before they have to face the character of who they are? Will you be able to perform your job as a professional actor or succumb to the struggles within yourself as you face the dark depths within your mind?
If you are immediately coming in to Layers of Fear 2 with the first games style in mind, you are only half correct in doing so. It is better to look at this game as a whole new experience of its own, because it certainly didn’t feel the same as the one their first game provided. Especially not in the first chapters.
There are multiple rooms and locations to interact with or check for memos and notes, but only one true path to take in order to progress. For the most part you are walking through different parts of the ship and solving puzzles that have a light difficulty to them. Before long you will find yourself in a chase sequence that will send you into a trial-and-error like set up where you have to restart with every mistake since the creature is close behind you.
To focus on the puzzle aspect, they are pretty clever in their set up. Solving them isn’t incredibly difficult, but they each have their own little experience to them. From the clock puzzle to the bedroom puzzle, you will find that they all have their own style and overall part of the stories experience. There are some that didn’t make a lot of sense, but that is to be expected with a Layers of Fear game and I am sure they have an explanation within.
There are a couple of unique moments that correlate with the actor role as well through the game. Such as the part where you avoid the lights as if you just robbed a bank and are avoiding being detected. These parts are pretty interesting, but don’t happen nearly enough. Certainly would have enjoyed more challenge areas like those.
As for the chase sequence parts of the game, I have to say these were the worst part. It was unfortunate to find myself in a trial-and-error section of the game multiple times. There were very few, if any, moments like this in the first game and they gave us such an amazing experience with the first title. I don’t know why they felt it was necessary to include a monster for us to run away from, but every time I had to run from it I dreaded the fact that there is a chance I will die and have to figure out the path with little bits of progress in between runs.
Graphics and Sounds
Visually this game was outstanding. From the eerie atmosphere to the iconic change of location when you turn around, nothing about the graphics were something to complain about. Excellent work bringing the ship to life and making every experience provided to its best form.
The sound effects were pretty accurate as well. From weird noises around the ship to sound queue’s letting me know when something is activated, turned off, and so on, it was easy to follow the audible side of the game as it was visually.
Other than making different choices at the key story moments and thus going for different endings, there is no reason to go back through the game. The experience, challenges, puzzles, and path will all be the same each time.
What Could Be Better
It would have been nice to have some more difficult puzzles throughout the game. From directly giving us the answer to making it guessable, there was very little solving required for any of the puzzles. I only struggled with one puzzle throughout the whole game and it would have been nice to have spent more time working on those.
The chase sequences should be limited to one or two times in the game. Having it fill in the first two chapters was a bad decision that made me dread moving on. I was happy to find that future chapters were less chase-based and provided more of the experience I was hoping for.
Story elements were almost too cryptic. There should have been a couple direct details told on what exactly was the purpose behind everything, even for those that didn’t find all the picture slides or monogram interviews. While the general concept is easy to understand from the bits given, it seemed difficult to understand more of details.
Layers of Fear 2 provided an experience unlike any other. It has a few flaws, but is overall an enjoyable game to play through. The story may be a bit hard to follow for many, but finding all the slides and story clues laying around the ship should help clear up some details. I enjoyed my time on the boat and searching to understand who the “character” was. Truly unique and thought provoking!