Layers of Fear 2023 review wallpaper
August 23, 2023

Bone for the base. Blood for the paint. Five stories for fans of the horror genre in our Layers of Fear 2023 review.

Welcome to Layers of Fear, the story-driven psychological horror game from Bloober Team, the developers behind Blair Witch (2019), The Medium (2021), and the upcoming Silent Hill 2 remake. But this isn’t the original game from 2016, oh no. This is the definitive edition. Layers of Fear 2023 features the original game plus its Inheritance DLC, Layers of Fear 2 plus the brand new The Final Note DLC as well as a new story that ties everything together.

Layers of Fear 2023 review cursed

This game is…

This full psychological package comes packed with updated graphics and new mechanics to keep any horror fan entertained. So pull up a chair, grab your paint brush and join us as we put the final coat on our Layers of Fear 2023 review.

Layers of Fear 2023 Review – Story

To talk about the story of Layers of fear isn’t as simple as most other games as it comes with a total of 5 stories to experience.

The Painter

This is the original story from the first Layers of Fear. You take control of an artist who has returned to his home to finish his final piece, his magnum opus. A portrait of his late wife who he loved so dearly, or so that’s how it started. Through six chapters you scour different rooms and halls of the house in near darkness looking for the items to help you finish your masterpiece.

Along the way you will be hunted and haunted by strange apparitions, shadows that appear out of the corner of your eye and disappear just as you try to look at them, dolls that move by themselves as the giggling of a little girl echoes through the halls. And the scariest of the lot, the spectre of your former wife.

Layers of Fear 2023 review wife

*Borat voice* My wife!

She will hunt you down as you solve puzzles to progress with your only way to combat her being an old lantern. As you progress you will uncover more of the history of the house and the painter, learning about what drove him away and his descent into depression and alcoholism.

The Daughter

This is the DLC that dropped for the original game soon after its initial launch. The Inheritance DLC sees you take control of the daughter of the painter from the base game. Now grown up, she returns to her childhood home after the events of The Painter. Much like the base game, The Inheritance has you explore the large home while also experiencing events from your past.

Layers of Fear review Child's Hall

Probably should have installed fluorescent bulbs…

Unlike how we saw the painter descend into depression and alcoholism, here we get to experience the wonderful world of childhood trauma!… h-hooray… the end goal of this story is to find the last bit of inheritance your father saved for you as he tried to pull himself back from the brink of despair.

The Musician

Here we round out the trio of players from the story of the first game with the wife of The Painter. In the DLC, The Final Note, we play as the wife in her final days. Part of the original story was learning that because of a fire, the wife had been disfigured and was now no longer appealing to The Painter. While there were other factors regarding The Painter and his fall from grace, the fact one of them was just because his wife was no longer beautiful to him makes you question what brought them together in the first place.

Layers of Fear 2023 review musician piano

That’s one way to move a piano.

In any case, this story has you explore the house and memories while also facing the same psychological horrors as The Painter and The Daughter including yourself. Yes, much like The Painter you have to avoid your own demonic ghost form even before your own death. While this DLC ties into the main game of the first Layers of Fear, it is actually brand new to this version of the game.

The Actor

Stepping away from the events of Layers of Fear, we now start the events of Layers of Fear 2. While this doesn’t have a direct link to the events of the first game, it still has one connection that we’ll talk about later. This story has you take the role of an actor on board a small cruise ship. You are given one task by your director, become a character. Though you won’t be interacting with other actors, the ship is instead filled with what else? But mannequins.

Layers of Fear 2023 review mannequins

There’s just something creepy about being in Kmart at night time.

As you traverse the ship through its five chapters, you’ll also experience the story of a couple of small children, a brother and sister who have stowed away to seek out a life on the high seas. While the first game and it’s DLCs explores themes of depression and coping, this story focuses on what it means to be a person and the characters we play in life.

The Writer

This is the second piece of brand new content that is exclusive to this remake. The Writer’s story sees us take control of an author who has won a contest to write a book based on The Painter. She opts to write the book in a solitary lighthouse, a location which the agency who hosted the contest offers her.

Layers of Fear 2023 review the writer

Think of The Writer’s story as the hub world of sorts, each time a story is finished, we return to The Writer. As the stories progress we see The Writer slip further into despair. Jumping forward and back in time we see how her stories link the others we’ve mentioned, though she isn’t as alone as once thought.

The Rat Queen

An entity out of time, a muse that offers people talent and the ability to create. But everything has a price. The Rat Queen appears in every story, as a mysterious being that talks about how they have influenced the characters. While appearing mostly in the form of a portrait, The Rat Queen may be more real than once thought.

Layers of Fear 2023 review Rat Queen

I am the Lizard Rat Queen!

Layers of Fear 2023 Review – Gameplay

The gameplay for Layers of Fear is your standard first person psychological horror trope. You make your way through tight corridors as the walls and objects around you seem to take on a life of their own. You hear the sounds of children giggling and the voice of your departed wife.

The remake adds a new item for you to pick up, a lantern. This lantern, along with lighting your way, is also used to banish darkness to help you find hidden items that will help you progress. In The Actor’s story, your torch takes on a whole new purpose. While you explore the ship you’ll come across some mannequins blocking your path. By focusing the light of your torch on them, you can make them move.

Layers of Fear 2023 review hall of chains

In addition to finding hidden items and moving mannequins, the lanterns and torch have one final use, your survival. Unlike survival horror games like Resident Evil, you have no way to completely kill your pursuing spirits. By focusing your light on them you can temporarily stun them, but they will continue to pursue you relentlessly.

Layers of Fear 2023 Review – Presentation

I’m going say this as bluntly as possible. The visuals and sound design of Layers of Fear are truly remarkable. Built using Unreal Engine 5, you can experience the story in 4K and it also supports ray tracing, this brings the nightmares to life in such a realistic experience.

However, I do have one problem with the lighting in the game, or more lack thereof. Especially in the first Layers of Fear and its DLC stories, I found they were TOO dark in some sections, to the point where even with a light I could barely see a thing. Immersive though it may be, it started getting annoying quickly, especially when you have your ex-wife on your heels.

Layers of Fear 2023 review hallway of arms

At least it’s too dark to see all the unspeakable horrors.

The game also uses binaural audio, this means you can tell exactly where each step and voice is coming from, though I would recommend using headphones for the full effect.

The soundtrack is also suitably scary as well. The track that plays while you are being pursued by your wife always had me creeped out. But really the scariest moments were when there was no music at all. When all you can hear are your footsteps and then suddenly you hear a second set of steps or a whisper on the wind, that’s when the goosebumps start coming up. All of this adds to a truly terrifying experience.

Layers of Fear 2023 Review – Conclusion

Layers of Fear 2023 is a perfect blend of psychological horror and jump scares. It has multiple interesting and interlocking stories that have just enough breadcrumbs to tell a story but leaves room for your own interpretation. The game has some replayability too as each story (except The Writer) has multiple endings. If I HAD to pick one thing I wasn’t a fan of, it’s that The Writer’s story ends a little abruptly but everything else was fantastic.

So, why should you play Layers of Fear 2023?

  • You played the original and want to finish the story.
  • You’re a fan of psychological horror or just love a good creep out.
  • You appreciate beautiful art that tells a story

But why shouldn’t you play Layers of Fear 2023?

  • Not a fan of horror (you big baby)

A review code was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of our Layers of Fear 2023 review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out more of our horror game reviews and jump on the Qualbert Discord for more jump scares!

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