After playing through (and enjoying) Layers of Fear, I didn’t expect to see any DLC for the game. I mean, my ending seemed to tie things up nicely and there didn’t seem to be a lot more that they could do with the tale. Bloober Team have surprised me though and brought a new DLC expansion to the game – Layers of Fear: Inheritance, an additional story based experience told through the eyes of the base game’s protagonist’s daughter.
The game follows a simple concept with the daughter exploring the house from the original game and giving her side of the events that occurred there, in some way hoping to make peace with her father. In Layers of Fear we learnt just how troubled the father is, but this new perspective on things shows a lot of his actions in a different light – it could actually be quite surprising at times. You’ll learn a little about the mother too, but as expected it’s the manic actions of the father that are the showpiece.
Layers of Fear: Inheritance builds a lot on the base game’s story and whilst they’re both open for interpretation, you’ll get a much clearer impression of everything that’s unfolded if you play through both. It gave the whole story more backbone and felt more like a beneficial contribution to the tale rather than a little money-making bravado with no real purpose.
The game is clever in design, having you explore a murky and derelict rendition of the house from the original game. As you enter different rooms and uncover varying objects, you’ll start to play out some of the daughter’s childhood memories and interact with them in varying ways. Do you follow your father’s orders and paint a picture exactly how he demands or do you instead ruin it with crayons? Do you disturb your father whilst he is playing his piano or do you leave him in peace?
It shares a similarity with the original game in that the main thing that seems to alter with each choice is the psyche of the father. The choices you make determine how he reacts to you, with even something as minor as opening or locking a door potentially causing him to erupt in rage. On the other hand, the things you do may show a sympathetic and caring side to him; something we saw so little of in the original game. Each action you make throughout the game has a consequence that will determine which of the multiple endings you’ll receive, but it’s interesting to see everything unfold in front of you during the roughly hour long experience.
Collectibles once again play a big role in Layers of Fear: Inheritance, this time the main collectible being the drawings that illustrate the daughter’s memories. You’ll come across a plethora of notes that expand upon the story too, as well as plenty of different objects that tie things together between both games.
Much like the original, Layers of Fear: Inheritance looks fantastic with its eerie Victorian-like setting. As you explore childhood memories you’ll see the environment transform around you too, taking a sort of malicious and distorted appearance that perhaps represents each fractured memory. These transformations occur in real-time too, so you’ll often see the likes of a burning room that’ll suddenly turn completely normal as you enter it. It might not be as effective as the horrific effects seen in the likes of Silent Hill, but it’s cool nonetheless.
The sound design is on point too, with sombre tunes offering a haunting vibe as well as plenty of ‘things that go bump in the night’ to keep you on your toes. One of the more troubling sounds was that of the animal that caused me plenty of jump scares, though that’s something you’re better off discovering yourself.
To get the most out of Layers of Fear: Inheritance it really needs to be played through more than once. Besides the aforementioned different choices and multiple endings, it’ll also give you a bit more bang for you buck – whilst the DLC isn’t expensive by any means, the fact that it’s pretty short will be off putting for some gamers. At least the developers did a good job of giving you plenty to see during each playthrough.
That being said, despite the changes the game brings in the form of the protagonist you’ll still feel like you’re essentially doing the same thing as in the original game. On a contextual basis everything is different, but gameplay wise there’s no real change. You explore a series of rooms and solve puzzles – there’s no additional gameplay dynamic other than you’re seeing it from a different perspective. Whilst that might be enough for most gamers, some may find it a little too familiar – especially when you consider that the expansion takes place in the same setting as the original release.
Layers of Fear: Inheritance offers something different to the base game as far as the narrative goes, but the gameplay itself felt the same – if you enjoyed the original release then you’ll enjoy this, but if not you’ll want to give it a miss. Some may be put off by the lack of change to the gameplay dynamics, but not me; I really liked Layers of Fear (check out my review here) and I liked this too.
The short running time is a shame, but with plenty of different ways to replay through the game there’s quite a lot to see. The way the story is expanded on is great too, with some of the characters being shown in a new light or, depending on your choices, appearing just as crazy as they were before. If you were a fan of the original it’s definitely worth checking out though, especially at such a low price point.
Developer: Bloober Team
Release Date: 02/08/2016
Format(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), Playstation 4, PC, Mac, Linux