Review – Layers of Fear 2 (Switch)

Of all games released by the (so-called) horror specialists at Bloober Team, Layers of Fear is easily their weakest outing. It is a game I tried playing on three different platforms (PS4, PSVR and Switch), and not a single one of these versions managed to convince me that it was a well-crafted, immersive, and most importantly, scary horror experience. It was basically a one-trick pony, using its sole “walk to a room, then go back the way you came, and now you’re somewhere else” schtick ad nauseum, while bombarding you with cheap jump scares along the way. Weirdly enough, of all games released by Bloober, this is the one that would eventually spawn a sequel, Layers of Fear 2.

Layers of Fear 2 Switch Graphics

These graphics are quite impressive for a Switch game.

Layers of Fear 2 isn’t a direct sequel to the original, but follows some similar patterns. It’s still a game about an artist slowly descending into madness, but instead of playing as a painter inside a mansion, you now play as a struggling Hollywood actor from the first half of the 20th century, while being trapped inside the most confusing ship I have ever seen in a game. One thing I immediately liked in Layers of Fear 2 over its predecessor is that I did not figure the entire plot out in the first 15 seconds, with the game managing to hide and unveil its mysteries in a slightly more interesting pace. It doesn’t exactly pay off very well in the end, but I have to commend Bloober Team for making Layers of Fear 2‘s plot less dumb than the one from the original.

Sadly, it does peak way too soon. The game is comprised of five acts, with the first one being by far its most interesting, not because it’s immensely better than the rest of the experience, but because the game hardly changes its plot, puzzles and surprises throughout your entire gameplay. Once you know how the game will try to subvert your expectations, and how it will try to make you feel unsettled, you’ll basically run on cruise control up until the end of the final act. Jump scares are still present, but they aren’t as prevalent as before, with the game occasionally managing to pull off some well-deserved scares by combining its excellent (but compressed) binaural audio with a bit of tension and buildup.

Layers of FEar 2

The game’s “narrator” sounds an awful lot like Snoke from Star Wars…

As a game itself… Layers of Fear 2 is still, by and large, a walking simulator with small doses of puzzle solving sprinkled throughout its duration. It focuses less on the annoying “ever changing corridor” mechanics from the original Layers of Fear, often resorting to a more linear level structure, with the occasional (and very obvious) puzzle for you to solve, such as unlocking a safe with a combination you had acquired literally in the previous room, or avoiding spotlights in order to reach the end of a corridor. Finally, Layers of Fear 2 sometimes remembers it’s a horror game and randomly forces to run away from an amorphous monster in some bland chase sections. Clearly not the game’s highlight, even if it’s when it’s at its most tense.

Layers of Fear 2 was originally released in 2019 for every single platform but the Switch. I was actually curious to see how well Bloober Team would port this game to Nintendo’s system. While the first Layers of Fear ran poorly on the platform, their other Switch game, Observer, ran surprisingly well, often achieving a better framerate than the PS4 version. It was my favorite way to play Bloober’s best game until the release of the System Redux edition for next-gen platforms.

Layers of Fear 2 Wrench

Hey, just let me grab this wrench! Oh, I forgot, this is one of those horror games where I HAVE to be defenseless or else there’s no tension whatsoever…

I need to give credit where credit is due. Layers of Fear 2 looks impressive on a small screen. Its textures and lighting effects are great for a system with such a limited GPU. The game’s loading times are also pretty decent, all things considered. It even features a framerate cap, but sadly, slowdowns and hiccups are prevalent in whichever mode you decide to play on. I also noticed a clunkier framerate when playing the game on docked mode, but considering the platform and time of release, I doubt you’d want to spend your time playing Layers of Fear 2 on a TV when there are better (and cheaper) options on other TV-based consoles. Furthermore, it’s much easier to take advantage of the game’s binaural audio by playing it on portable mode with a pair of good headphones.

Toys

Toys? Y’all didn’t even give me a flashlight!

It might still not be a very good horror game overall, but Layers of Fear 2 is a much more enjoyable experience than its disappointing predecessor. Its story and premise were much more interesting this time around, but its limited gameplay and the fact it’s just not scary at all left a lot to be desired. It’s not a bad experience if you’re a die-hard horror fan, and it runs surprisingly well on the Switch’s limited hardware. Just be aware that there are loads of better horror experiences out there, even when considering the Switch’s library.

 

Graphics: 8.0

Despite the clunky framerate, I was impressed with the quality of its textures and lighting effects, considering the limited power of the Switch’s GPU.

Gameplay: 6.5

It’s still a slow-paced walking simulator with just a few puzzles being thrown at you every now and then. They aren’t very hard nor varied, but you’ll end up appreciating them whenever they show up.

Sound: 7.5

I loved Layers of Fear 2‘s usage of binaural audio to make the experience even more unsettling, but sadly, it sounded a bit too compressed. Loud jump scares are still prevalent, even though they’re not as common as in the original Layers of Fear.

Fun Factor: 5.5

Layers of Fear 2 is a lot more intriguing than its predecessor, even though that game had set a very low bar to clear.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Layers of Fear 2 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Layers of Fear 2 was provided by the publisher.