The 2016 psychological horror game is getting a “reimagining”—”a unified vision of horror”—that connects the tales from Layers of Fear, its sequel Layers of Fear 2, all previous DLCs, and a brand-new one called “The Final Note.” Additionally, a gameplay teaser shows off some technological advancements including ray-tracing capability and 4K resolution.
In the original Layers of Fear, players are forced to navigate a moving studio full with startling scares while inside the head of an artist who is on the verge of going insane. Kotaku Editor-in-Chief Patricia Hernandez described it as “dizzying” and “messing with your head” in a 2015 Steam Early Access review.
2019 sequel Similar hallucinogenic effects can be found in Layers of Fear 2, however this time the protagonist is an actor on a boat. The upcoming DLC “The Last Note” attempts to connect “each entry in the series together” by retelling the original game’s narrative from the viewpoint of a writer.
The DLC has been “years, years in the works,” according to Damian Kocurek, creative director of Anshar Studios. He hopes that the reworking of the series it’s a part of (coming in June 2023) will help fans realize the “connection” that runs across the entire run.
The Layers of Fear (games) “always have richer and deeper mythology,” he claimed. We wanted to lift it up further and provide a more linked, larger context than was previously available because it had always been on the surface.
In the demo they played, the main character, a writer, is seen going through a creaky lighthouse and already starting to feel harassed by black rats racing around paintings that transform into grotesque faces. Afterwards, an attic appears to be consumed by fire. Monsters made of ink blobs loom just beyond it. Yet a lit lantern keeps them at distance, frying them in its glow—one of several fundamental gameplay improvements to come.
The trial gave the idea that the game will be more high-contrast and bright when compared to the first game’s aesthetics, which I’d place, for the most part, somewhere between grayscale and sepia. It has deeper blacks, hazy smoke clouds, and creatures with blazing red fire as a highlight. Arek Reikowski, who will also work on Bloober’s remake of Silent Hill 2, overhauled the sound design, and it is also gratifyingly sharp. The walkthrough’s varied whispers and squelches may be heard clearly even through the laptop speakers. Yes, it’s gross, but it’s all done to heighten the scary atmosphere.
I’m curious to see if the interconnected plotlines in this reinvention improve the narrative in Layers of Fear. The first game does make me squirm, but not in the searing psychological horror sense I normally strive for, but in a forgettable, disgusting creepypasta way. But, things are looking okay thus far. Ray tracing seems to work nicely with ghosts.