PCP: Layers of Fear

Fun Fridayz #22 – Freaky Frames

Layers of Tears

The short of it: The only thing more impossible than this game’s geometry is not getting super spooked.

An artist starts work on his magnum opus.

A player gets up and turns on the lights.

This is how Layers of Fear starts.

It’s a game without any real direct threat. There are no batteries or night vision cameras, no lockers or beds for hiding places. It’s a journey into delusion and loss and a fair bit of fear.

Jokingly referred to on the internet as “Cabinet and Door Opening Simulator,” most of the game is just opening doors and progressing through the increasingly derelict mansion. That’s it. And it’s fantastic.

Playing on the Xbox One was less fantastic. I know Unity can create beautiful, impressive games and all, but Layers of Fear initially runs terribly. The framerate hovers at around 15 any time you move, controller movement is brutally slow, and interactions feel nearly impossible. Once the options get tweaked (no headbob, lowest field of view, highest sensitivity), the game becomes manageable and, for the most part, stays playable for the rest of the playthrough. Stutters and slowdowns were never quite as surprising as the jumpscares though.

The main mechanic of the game is its use of impossible geometry; in this case, it’s probably better referred to as impossible architecture. The video game instinct to create a mental map is useless in the face of constantly changing hallways and doors that go nowhere. All you can do is go one layer deeper.

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