In the original Layers of Fear, the story followed a once famed painter who had fallen into his own personal abyss, struggling to cope with his inner demons, trapped and tormented within his family home, now turned into a house of horrors.  It is a psychological indie horror that took me by surprise to how much I really enjoyed it; so quite naturally, I was rather excited for its sequel, Layers of Fear 2.

This sequel follows a similar premise to that of the first game, a troubled artist, this time being a famed actor struggling to cope with being not quite as famous as he used to be.  Desperate to cling on to his declining fame, our protagonist receives a timely invite from a creative and charismatic movie director to join him aboard the luxury Art Deco Ocean Liner, he needs little persuading to re-launch is flaying career.  However, he soon discovers that when something appears to be “too good to be true”, it often is and he soon finds himself wishing that he never set board on this hell-bound cruise ship of horrors.

In terms of gameplay, Layers of Fear 2 is very similar to that of the first game.  It’s very slow paced tension build over its five acts, which is perfect for any good horror story.  You’ll navigate your way through the narrow corridors and the harrowing depths of the cruise ship, with each act bringing forth a new torment for our protagonist.  Jump scares are well timed and are not over used and you’ll even encounter a decent puzzle or two along the way.  In most of the chapters you’ll be slowly making your way through the cruise ship with flashbacks and found items of interest uncovering clues to the harrowing story piece by piece.

As you slowly uncover the truth, you’ll gradually learn that this story is far more disturbing than you first thought and all is not what it seems.  While the well placed puzzles helps to mix up the pace of the story, there are moments when you’ll be pursued by a monster, which in the most part adds a great level of extra tension, however, as some of these “chase” sequences do come out of the blue, the insta-deaths can get a little annoying and there’s a little trial and error until you discover the correct escape path.  But that is a minor gripe of what is a fantastic, well paced horror story.

Other then needing a well written story, that story needs to be brought to life by a well supported voice cast and Layers of Fear 2 most certainly has that.  You can feel the dread in the voices of our protagonists and when you add in Hollywood horror icon Tony Todd aka “The Candyman” as the charismatic movie director and narrator of the game, there’s probably no voice in horror better suited to tell the tell of torment.  Likewise the audio to Layers of Fear 2 is simply sublime, not only with the voice cast, but the creeks and drips of the cruise ship, the noises that go bump in the night, the haunting ghostly whispers and the soundtrack that adds an extra level of dread at just the right moments.

I think it’s fair to say that while it certainly wasn’t the worst, the first Layers of Fear wasn’t the best looking game and you could tell that it wasn’t a AAA title.  However, the sequel is a far superior looking game in terms of its visuals and falls into the top-end of the best looking indie horror games currently on the market.  Also not only does it look even better, but it also brings with it the fantastic level design of the original game and then some.  Many times will you be caught off guard by ghostly apparitions, a dread of what’s behind you, a sudden change in the maze-like corridors that will through you off guard and lose you sense of direction.

To conclude, Layers of Fear 2 is an improvement over the first game in just about every way.  Its well paced story is equally as dark as the first game, telling the tale of fear, regret, desperation and cruelty.  Its audio design is among the best that I’ve played so far this year and if you’ve got a decent headset, then you’re in for a horrid treat indeed and it’s a fair superior game to look at too with its nightmarish visuals.  Then the icing on the cake, is having the unsettling voice of the iconic Tony Todd.  Layers of Fear 2 will be one of the best horror games you’ll play this year and its haunting tale will live with you for quite some time.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake