New Game Review

Review – Layers of Fear: Legacy (Switch)

Fear is in the name, but fear isn't in the game...

Layers of Fear: Legacy is the newest horror game release for the Nintendo Switch. The fact this is the third horror game to be released for the console in less than a year impresses me in a way. It’s nice to see Nintendo allowing for more mature games to grace its hybrid console’s library at the end of the day. Sadly, as with the other horror games released for the console so far, this version of Layers of Fear is quite inferior to its console and PC counterparts.

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My thoughts when I was considering asking for a refund…

Layers of Fear is a bizarre story of a painter and his downward spiral towards insanity while trying to come up with his masterpiece. It heavily borrows elements from Silent Hill and The Shining, namely the usage of psychological horror and a main character slowly becoming crazy. The setting is fine, the main character doesn’t get insane instantly, the buildup is created at a decent pace. But Layers of Fear isn’t scary. Nor did it make me feel uneasy. Technical issues, gameplay decisions and the overuse of some modern horror movie clichés made this game boring, not scary.

The first and most noticeable issue that makes this game devoid of any horror is its visuals. Like many other rushed ports, this Switch version of Layers of Fear suffers from severely downgraded visuals, worsened lighting effects and an inconsistent framerate. While looking a lot better than other recent ports like the hideous Monster Energy Supercross, the game still suffers from subpar textures and very wonky lighting programming. I get that dark corridors are a staple of any horror game, but half of the game is set in such a pitch black environment you can’t even see what’s supposed to scare you.

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The Forest Temple from Ocarina of Time makes an appearance

As previously mentioned, Layers of Fear‘s framerate isn’t exactly the best. It’s not as bad as the aforementioned Monster Energy Supercross, but it’s still fairly inconsistent. The other problem revolves in the game’s framerate being out of sync with the sound department, namely whenever the game tries to startle you with a jump scare (more on that later). Let me explain it with an example: there was a moment in which the game tried to scare me by throwing a knife right next to my face. The problem is, the knife appearing onscreen and the loud noise that usually comes along a jump scare were out of sync. To make matters worse, there were many times you could predict a jump scare was about to happen due to a framerate hiccup, as if the game was loading the following gameplay section and got slower for a millisecond.

Finally, Layers of Fear suffers from both horror movie clichés and repetitive game design choices that made the game severely predictable, and as a result, uninteresting. The game, just like an immense amount of current horror movies, thinks that horror equals jump scares. The key to horror is subtlety and frequent jump scares are the opposite of subtle. Add in the aforementioned issue about some sound effects being completely out of sync and the result is an overabundance of irritating noises and not particularly scary moments.

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I ain’t cleaning this mess

Regarding gameplay, the game became predictable due to many repetitive segments, mostly due to the fact Layers of Fear is, at the end of the day, a walking simulator and there isn’t much you can do in terms of actual gameplay with a title like this. Besides the annoying fact your character limps while walking (that can be slightly ignored due to the cramped environments), many game sections revolved around walking down a corridor, trying to open a locked door, going back to the door you came from (which was now locked as well), listening to a creepy noise (children laughing, how original) or looking at a cliché visual effect (light bulbs dimming or my favorite one, a portrait vomiting a ton of potatoes), then walking past a newly opened third door in the middle of the corridor. I get it, the game revolves around going mad and I have to praise the developers for coming up with some wacky level designs and clever programming, but the excessive use of these tropes didn’t result in a scary title. Far from it because it became just another walking simulator, as if we weren’t drowned by so many of those games over the last few years.

The worst part was looking at how Layers of Fear looks and plays in other platforms. The improved visuals and improved technical performance resulted in a vastly superior and scarier title, something the Switch version never manages to achieve. That’s a shame, given how this version even comes with the Inheritance DLC available from the start.

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Inner thoughts about trying to finish the game

Layers of Fear might be a good horror game, but not on the Switch. Its downgraded visuals, framerate issues and over saturation of modern horror clichés simply make this game a failed attempt at scaring players, even if the setting and overall theme aren’t bad at all. This game follows a recent trend of subpar ports of recent horror titles being released for the Switch, like Don’t Knock Twice and Perception. It’s great to see a Nintendo console receiving lots of horror games in its first year, but it’s easy to see them being so inferior to their other versions.

Graphics: 5.5

A lot more detailed than other horror games on the Switch, with a slightly better framerate, but it still suffers from poor lighting and framerate stutters.

Gameplay: 7.0

 

It’s not very complex, nor does it require many buttons, but you’ll need to increase the analog stick sensitivity in order to make the experience less painful.

Sound: 3.0

Do loud jump scare noises count? I really don’t think so…

Fun Factor: 4.0

You can see the potential for an interesting horror title, but the game’s poor optimization on the Switch hinder it from being even remotely scary.

Final Verdict: 5.0

Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC (non-Legacy versions)

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About Leo Faria

Founder and mastermind behind Way Too Many Games, hailing from the southern swag that is São Paulo, a Sega widower who considers the Dreamcast to be the greatest console ever released, the greatest Guitar Hero and Tetris player you’ll ever meet. My favorite games include Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, the Guitar Hero series, Bioshock Infinite and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II. I also own an Ouya. Never turned it on.

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