Layers of Fear: Legacy (Review)
After our interview with the developers of Layers of Fear: Legacy, they sent us a review code so we could experience this journey through madness. Layers of Fear puts you in the shoes of an artist who returns to his old home to complete the masterpiece he’s been attempting to paint. After a brief exploration of the house, you unveil your canvas and get to work. Simple, right?
Not when reality warps the moment you leave the room, and you find yourself in another version of the house as it twists and changes around you. Layers of Fear depicts the artist’s madness through an ever-shifting environment, with imagery that is often symbolic and always surreal.
These changes often come in the form of jump scares, but this eventually builds into Layers of Fear’s greatest weakness. Its surreal environments are unique at first, but you soon get used to the general pattern. Even if you don’t know what the change will be, you’ll be prepared for something, and the rarity of true danger means you have little to actually fear. The horror is at its best when it’s subtle – turning around and seeing a different room behind you is more unsettling than the sudden scares the game attempts.
However, Layers of Fear’s storytelling provides a more disturbing layer of horror. As you explore, you’ll encounter flashbacks, hear memories, and find notes that give you an idea of just what the artist did before the events of the game. It leaves some things ambiguous, but it gives you enough to let your imagination fill in the details of its dark tale.
At the end of the story, you’ll complete the painting and see one of the game’s endings. The ending you get will be based on the actions you took during the game – which collectibles you picked up, how you progressed through certain areas, etc. This is a nice idea, although it can make replaying the game to get other endings a bit frustrating.
Its gameplay is fairly simple. You use ZR to grab things, although it can be difficult at times to interact with what you want – sometimes you need to find just the right angle, especially if there are multiple things close together that you can interact with. In the case of doors and drawers, you use the right stick to pull or push them open, but you also have the option of using gestures with detached Joy-Cons. The majority of your time will be spent exploring and picking up collectibles, as well as solving puzzles to proceed.
Finally, in addition to the main game, you can also play Inheritance, a bonus chapter that follows a different character. Inheritance uses memories to create a similar surreal structure, but it is more of a sad story than a frightening one as you gain a new perspective into the artist’s life. It’s short, but serves as a decent epilogue, and it also has multiple endings.
Layers of Fear: Legacy has some flaws and its scares can wear thin, but its unsettling atmosphere and disturbing story make it a game that many horror fans should enjoy.