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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (451)

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God of War 4/5
Doom (2016) 3.5/5
Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5

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Layers of Fear   PC (Steam) 

The Mad Fever Dream of Bob Ross    3.5/5 stars

Layers of Fear is presented by Bloober Team - which goes to show Poland has more developers than just CD Projekt Red. While they started off a little rocky, with Layers of Fear (and also Observer) they have made a name for themselves in the psychological horror genre. The game prizes atmosphere over action and while some may find it a bit on the boring side, for those who pride experience over action, this game does a great job.

Presentation: I absolutely love the look of this game. It's not the most polished game around, but is does an excellent job of presenting a great horror atmosphere. Thunderstorms, rats scratching, crying babies - all the fun creepy stuff is here. There is technically one enemy you face, but you can't die - only wake up a little worse for wear. But the artwork on display, all from actual artists (including Francisco de Goya, Rembrandt and Jan van Eyck to name a few) really set the mood - and that mood is extremely creepy. Even regular self-portraits take on a an air of just being... off. The game also makes good use of perspective and such to give things a nice twist. It is very well done and the atmosphere of the game is the best reason to check it out... preferably with the lights off.

Story: Layers of Fear puts you in the shoes of an artist - once the talk of the town but now a shadow of his former self. When you first enter your house, everything seems fairly normal (aside from a phantom rodent infestation) as you explore the kitchen, basement, bedroom and child's room - but everything changes when you open your studio and take the cover off your so-called masterpiece. Doing so triggers the actual game - where you find yourself walking down a series of corridors that couldn't possibly exist anywhere but in the dark recesses of your mind. Once again, things start off fairly normal, but every time you find yourself back in your studio, enhancing your painting, things get darker and darker. As you walk down these halls, you can collect articles, pictures and even objects that shed light on why you are in this state. I can't really get into much detail without spoiling things, but let's just say that our artist friend becomes obsesses with "fixing" things - only to make things much worse while falling into depression and alcoholism - destroying his life, and that of his family, in the process. It's dark, but a bit convoluted, requiring you to fill in many of the details yourself.

Gameplay:The term "walking simulator" is thrown around casually to describe any number of games (Gone Home, Everyone's Gone to Rapture and The Town of Light to name a few) but theses type of games follow a pattern of exploration and information over action. I can see why the adventure/horror drama is so suited to this type of game play - especially when you get the right atmosphere - because exploring a strange, ever-changing environment (or even a regular environment given a nightmare-educing twist) is very effective. In Layers of Fear what starts off as a regular house quickly changes into something much darker - and as you learn about why this change comes about, the house also changes. Sure, you're just essentially running through a series of corridors, but using a combination of the environment, music, sound and, yes, the classic jump scare, it works well enough. Plus, there are a lot of creepy-ass painting everywhere that just weird you out. There are a few basic puzzles, but nothing spectacular. This game does require a bit of reading as there are a lot of articles, pictures and such in order to get a well-rounding feeling for the story, but that is pretty much expected in this kind of game. It's not the most exciting game around, but I never felt bored thanks to the great setting

Replayability: There are theories about how to get one of three different endings (involving what collectibles you pick up and encounters you have) but on my first play through I somehow got the "good" ending, so the biggest reason to go back is to pick up the various pictures and such and get a more well-rounded picture of this dark story.

Overall: Layers of Fear is decent horror-based walking simulator with plenty of scares of an oppressive atmosphere that does pretty good at getting under your skin.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5

 

 


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