Layers of Fear packs together both previously released titles, its DLC, and some new story content into one spooky package, all whilst giving it a fresh lick of paint and some refinements to the gameplay. I’ll admit, it’s confusing that they didn’t name it something different – especially since the original Layers of Fear is part of the package – but it’s basically the definitive way to experience Bloober Team’s horror series. It brings with it plenty of significant changes too, and whilst it isn’t quite perfect, experiencing the series again in a new form has been a real treat.

Check out some screenshots down below:

As mentioned, Layers of Fear consists of three titles: the original game that takes place from the perspective of a troubled artist, its sequel that sees players play as an actor taking on a new role aboard a cruise liner, and an all-new experience that ties the original two titles together by putting players in the role of an author that’s writing about the two men. The storytelling is captivating throughout, and whilst I’ll avoid going into specifics here, exploring the disturbed psyches of the protagonists will keep players on the edge of their seat when playing.

If you’ve played the first two games before, you’ll be right at home straight away. Both Layers of Fear and Layers of Fear 2 are built around what players would have experienced before, including the haunting storytelling, sinister chase sequences, clever puzzling mechanics, and the disturbing world that continually changes around the player. You can even dive into the ‘Inheritance’ DLC from the original game, allowing players to see the story unfold from the perspective of the artist’s daughter, whilst the newly included ‘The Final Note’ DLC adds more depth to the tale by focusing on the artist’s wife. I really enjoyed playing through both games when they originally released, and whilst some aspects of the gameplay don’t pack quite as much punch now as they did back then, their worlds still feel as atmospheric and sinister to be a part of now.

“The visual upgrades look absolutely outstanding, whilst the new story content fleshes out the narrative in an intriguing and cohesive manner.”

It helps that they’ve both been revamped, with Layers of Fear moving both games to Unreal Engine 5 and bringing with them plenty of fancy bells and whistles. Each environment you explore looks incredible, with some richly detailed textures and realistic lighting effects bringing each one to life. The series has always been known for its impressive visuals, but everything looks significantly better here, making the horrors of the world all the more frightening. Add to that the excellent sound design that’ll also keep players on edge (and that brings with it plenty of spooks with its haunting whispering and slew of noises that ‘go bump in the night), and it’ll become clear that Layers of Fear definitely stands out as one of the most atmospheric horror titles out there.

Interestingly, some of the mechanics across the titles have been refined too, with some puzzling elements streamlined to make them less frustrating and chase sequences included in the first game. Admittedly, these chase sequences didn’t feel like they added much to the experience, but it’s neat to see that the team tried to add some extras to freshen things up – especially since they play a significant role in the second game. Furthermore, there’s a bigger emphasis placed on using a light source to fight off enemies, giving the game a more threatening aura where it feels like your life is in danger. This felt a bit more impactful and gives players something else to be wary of that adds moments of excitement to the otherwise slower pace of the gameplay, whilst it also ties into the storytelling and puzzling in a meaningful way.

Check out some screenshots down below:

If I’m being honest, I haven’t played the Layers of Fear titles for a while, so some of the changes might have gone over my head. Still, between the improved visuals and new features, it felt REALLY good to play. It brought with it plenty of unexpected surprises, whilst the new elements of storytelling really helps flesh out the narrative. This sees players taking on the role of an author who ventures to a lighthouse to write her next novel, but strange events occur that ensure it’s an unnerving experience. The fact that her writing is based around the first two games makes things even more interesting, with it all tying everything together in a cohesive and eerie manner that helps make the series feel more complete. It was one of my favourite aspects of the game and it made revisiting the old stories all the more exciting. I should give a bit of a trigger warning though, because each chapter explores some disturbing themes which may be unsettling for some.

It’s impressive how many new tricks Layers of Fear has up its sleeve when it comes to reinventing the older releases, whilst I was a big fan of the additional content that fleshes out the story. That being said, returning fans may be a little bit divided, especially since some of the new content doesn’t necessarily make the experience better. Whilst I approve of the changes for the most part, the chase sequences were a bit iffy and there were some moments where the gameplay mechanics could show their age. It’s not a big problem, especially since the game still manages to deliver an engaging horror experience, but I don’t know if it’ll do enough to win over players who were previously on the fence about the series.

Layers of Fear Review

Layers of Fear brings plenty of new additions and refinements to each game, ensuring it is the definitive way to experience the series. The visual upgrades look absolutely outstanding, whilst the new story content fleshes out the narrative in an intriguing and cohesive manner. The refinements to the to the gameplay help streamline the experience too, and whilst some of the changes are better than others, it helps ensure that the haunting gameplay feels fresh and intriguing.

Will it win over players who had mixed feelings about the original releases? Maybe not, but it’ll definitely be a treat for fans of the series that have been itching for more. I definitely had a good time with Layers of Fear, with it acting as the perfect reminder that Bloober Team certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to horror.

Developer: Bloober Team, Anshar Studios
Publisher: Bloober Team
Platform(s): Xbox Series X (Reviewed), Xbox Series S, PlayStation 5, PC