This is the game which taught me that brushes and bookcases can be scarier than you originally thought.
Layers is a psychological horror and is fantastic at playing tricks on the player. It will have you second guessing at almost every turn and questioning if what your seeing is in fact actually there. This is accomplished largely because of the protagonist, it’s hard to trust what you’re witnessing when you can’t even trust yourself.
You play as a painter who is attempting to complete his magnum opus, your only instruction is to “finish it”. You navigate through an eerily empty mansion discovering items to help you in your attempt to create your final, perfect painting. While searching for these items, you will encounter various puzzles, some of these, particularly in the first half of the game are interesting and will require you to spend time to come to a logical conclusion. Others, on the other-hand in the latter section of the game do feel like a chore and I became a little disinterested in these which was a real shame.
The aspect which makes Layers really shine is it’s jump scares, they are brilliantly placed and the pace of the entire game in general is exceptional. These scares work so well due to the fact that the game plays with your senses. One minute you will be walking down a hallway, turn around, and see a door that had never been there before. Or you’ll be in an empty room and a quick spin will reveal things which you could swear we never there to begin with. This mechanic makes you question everything you see in the game, you find yourself constantly second guessing everything you think you see.
To a certain extent you can delve as far into madness as you like, you can chose to look in every nook and cranny searching for every collectible you can find. Doing so will reward you with a different outcome. But, this comes with its fair share of risk, in searching additional areas, you may encounter something you wish you didn’t discover.
There are some aspects of the game which do let the experience down, it could be compared and labelled as a ‘walking simulator’. This in turn makes interaction limited and the controls themselves can be rather clunky and awkward. This is a problem particularly when you’re trying to open cupboard drawers for instance, especially when you’re attempting to do this in a hurry. Although this minor issue does not affect the overall experience and Layers of Fear is still one of the better horror experiences to come out in recent years and it’s decent into madness is one that should not be missed.