Lay­ers of Fear 2 a truly fright­en­ing game

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

MUCH of the fear in hor­ror games comes from the sen­sa­tion of dread and op­pres­sive­ness that usu­ally per­vades ev­ery mo­ment of game­play. Of­ten, the bal­ance be­tween the fear and vir­tu­ally ev­ery other as­pect of the game is tipped so far to­wards in the for­mer’s favour that play­ers may burn out quickly, or simply not have the met­tle to reach the con­clu­sion. Lay­ers of Fear 2 suf­fers no such short­com­ing, with the tightrope act be­tween story and spec­ta­cle re­fined to an ex­cep­tional de­gree.

Tak­ing many a cue from clas­sic film, Lay­ers of Fear 2 is a deeply ter­ri­fy­ing but nev­er­the­less haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful jour­ney through the de­cay­ing mind of an artist and the var­i­ous twisted machi­na­tions wraught on the en­vi­ron­ment around you. While this is a well trod­den trope, sel­dom has it been so deftly pulled off as in this in­stance, where the mas­ter­ful writ­ing el­e­vates it to that in­tan­gi­ble realm of in­stant-clas­sics that truly feel like ‘more’ than your stan­dard gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Lay­ers of Fear 2 casts you in the role of an ac­tor aboard an ocean liner. Guid­ing you through the ever-shift­ing en­vi­ron­ment is the dis­em­bod­ied voice of your movie’s di­rec­tor, who’s san­ity and mo­tives are just as mu­ta­ble as the de­ceit­ful cor­ri­dors you roam.

Just as much an ex­hi­bi­tion of in­cred­i­ble tal­ent as the ex­ploits by Lay­ers of Fear 2’s writ­ers, the en­vi­ron­ment design is of­ten mag­i­cal and never pre­dictable. The incredibly de­tailed ship acts some­what as a cen­tral hub and the di­verse ar­ray of other lo­ca­tions you can visit from it keeps it fresh on ev­ery re­turn.

How­ever, the true star of the en­vi­ron­men­tal show is hid­den be­hind the scenes. The way the world con­stantly shifts around you is as in­spired as it is eerie. Door­ways can dis­ap­pear as soon as you take a sec­ond look at them, man­i­fest­ing as cor­ri­dor or an en­trance to an en­tirely new en­vi­ron­ment - per­haps one con­tain­ing float­ing skyscrap­ers or gar­dens crawl­ing with vines and ab­stract hor­rors. You will truly never know what to ex­pect at any mo­ment and that’s not in a cheap jump-scare kind of way. The trans­for­ma­tions and ma­nip­u­la­tions are so in­tri­cately wo­ven into the game that you will al­most never no­tice the trig­ger or change un­til af­ter-the-fact.

For a game only 10 hours long, it wouldn’t be that dif­fi­cult to wax lyri­cal about it for per­haps longer than its to­tal run­time. Lay­ers of Fear 2 is just that - in­tri­cate lay­ers of game­play per­me­ated by a con­stant state of fear. Though never paralysing, this is a truly fright­en­ing game but one that re­wards in other ar­eas, too.

The en­vi­ron­ment design in Lay­ers of Fear 2 is of­ten mag­i­cal and never pre­dictable.

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