Layers of Fear is a horror game with heavy psychological and psychedelic elements. You play as an artist who sets out to complete his finest piece of "art."
Pro Strong emphasis on tension and fear over jump scares
Layers of Fear truly focuses on the fear aspect via tension rather than cheap jump scares. Whether it's that darkened hallway where you can't see the other side, cheery paintings that melt away to reveal horrific imagery, or the shadowy shapes that disappear when you turn to face them, the game does all in it's power to keep the player guessing while feeling frightened and ill at ease.
Rooms are dark and ominous, hallways stretch into blackness, a baby's cry can softly be heard coming through walls, and the player never knows what they're going to find in the next room. The architecture of the house shifts and bends, in impossible ways, to create rooms and spaces that simply should not exist. Since everything is changing all the time, there is no way to know or predict what horror lurks beyond the next door.
Pro Multiple paths for replaybility
As you explore the surreal house, sometimes you will be presented with multiple doorways or paths. Since a majority of the doors close and lock behind you as move through the house, your choice is permanent and will influence the ending and certain story elements. This gives the game a bit of replayability as you will have to play more than once to see everything the game has to offer.
Pro Lots of little secrets for those those who explore deeper
Throughout the game, the player can discover notes and journal entries that are small pieces of the bigger story. These are stashed in all kinds of different hiding spots such as dresser drawers. Those who poke into every nook and cranny will uncover more plot elements than players who opt not to do much searching.
Additionally, there are some mysterious items scattered throughout the house such as a hand crank and an Oujia board. No direction is given on how to use these items, and it's completely up to the player to figure it out. It's still possible to complete the game without discovering everything, but extra secrets, multiple endings, and additional story elements await for those who dig a little deeper.
Pro Focused on horror immersion without puzzles as roadblocks
Layers of Fear is almost entirely immersion based, meaning a majority of the experience consists of going from room to room and soaking in the truly horrific atmosphere. Rather than scratching your head over tricky puzzles, you can instead simply enjoy watching strange events unfold right before your eyes as you fall deeper into madness. There are a few puzzles and riddles to overcome, although they fit into the game well. Keeping an uninterrupted flow is a vital part in keeping the horror in the forefront and the immersion strong.
Pro Uses the environment itself as a way to portray horror
There's an ever-present sense of psychological dread by feeling constantly lost and trapped. By using clever visual tricks such as doors disappearing when you turn around and hallways that never seem to end, the impossible architecture of the house itself is used as a horror element. Most of the changes are so subtle, you won't even notice them as they're happening. You may be watching that strange painting morphing on the wall, only to turn around and see the entire room around you has changed.
Con Somewhat nonsensical story
The game attempts to be "too artistic" at times, opting for a surreal horror experience akin to an art movie instead of a truly coherent story with ordered plot elements. While this creates a good enough gaming experience, those looking for a solid story may be disappointed. Even though there are multiple endings, most are open ended and painfully inconclusive.