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Layers of Fear Review (PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, & PC)

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Layers of Fear Review

With the influx of horror games coming out this year, it’s a low chance horror fans will lack something to keep them busy. Consider Layers of Fear, a psychological horror adventure that came out on June 15th, 2023. You may have played the first entry in 2016, or Layers of Fear 2 in 2019, now remade into one package, complete with a new story.

Most remakes will repackage games from decades ago. Sure enough, Layers of Fear (2016) and Layers of Fear 2 (2019) don’t nearly look as outdated as a game in desperate need of a remake. Still, it sparks curiosity to see how developers Bloober Team and Anshar Studios S.A. do it differently.

So, is Layers of Fear (2023) worth taking out for a spin? Or, would you rather stick to the originals? Let’s find out in today’s Layers of Fear Review.

Mysteries Uncovered

Layers of Fear review

Specific details on Layers of Fear (2023) were kept under wraps for so long. Now that it’s out, I couldn’t wait to take my knife and fork out and devour it like a starving gamer. The premise is highly intriguing. It follows the minds of some seriously deranged artists, who as we all know, boast some of the most webbed minds on planet Earth.

What’s New?

With Layers of Fear (2016) and Layers of Fear 2 (2019) freshly re-imagined in Unreal Engine 5 and mashed together in one remake, it’s no question whether Layers of Fear (2023) looks stunning. Because it truly does. However, we’ve seen more than enough absolutely gorgeous titles to instantaneously guide our magnifying glasses toward the gameplay itself.

How Many Layers of Fear Are There?

You would think that by virtue of the game being called “layers of fear,” it would mean a rollercoaster horrific experience that just keeps amping up its foundation. But, no. Besides a few jump scares here and there, much else is only surface-level attempts. For the most part, Layers of Fear (2023) uses predictable shock tactics that fail to latch on.

And the Story?

Besides Layers of Fear (2023) featuring a new story, most of the notes and dialogue from the original games remain nearly intact. As if they are direct lift-offs from the original, plastered onto the remake. I wouldn’t hold a copy-paste story against it, though. After all, it’s a remake that often aims to upgrade an already working concept. In that regard, Layers of Fear’s (2023) story nails.

A painter. An actor. A writer. Three artists with a tortured past. The player is tasked with trekking backward into these artists' lives and exploring the darkest corners of their minds. The writer is newly introduced and serves the role of the connective tissue between the painter and the actor’s stories.

The story starts off strong with the painter. Then, the writer simply picks it up where the painter left off. You see the writer, multi-tasking between documenting the painter’s story while also battling her own demons. There is no sort of elevation on the horror experience. The only similarity is that their tormentors are the same. By the time we reach the actor, Layers of Fear’s (2023) plotline starts to wither under the weight of its ambition.

It’s all a connected piece at the very least. Certainly sparks up intrigue to see the fate of the game’s antagonist revealed. Plus, the player has the power to influence the ending based on the choices they make.

With regard to voice acting, I’ll say that the stars of the plot don’t do a too-shoddy job. Coco Lefkow and James Watts hoist their flag with pride. However, the other “much more” voice-acting performers falter, which when you consider that they read out every note you find, nearly end up destroying the whole mosaic.

At Least It’s Cheap?

You can now get your own copy of Layers of Fear’s (2023) Standard Edition for the handsome price of $25.49. Or, the Deluxe Edition for $34.99. Considering the amount of content you receive, i.e. the first and second entry, previously released DLC, and a couple of new stories, it’s definitely a welcome, absolute steal.

So, Should You Play the Game?

The nitty gritty aside, it’s time to settle the debate. Is Layers of Fear (2023) worth playing? Well, the game does have its good and bad times. The good is definitely how absolutely gorgeous the game looks. And the bad is a long-running tab of predictable scare tactics, a weak second half of the story, and mostly subpar voice acting. The deal breaker, though, is the gameplay itself. So, let’s explore that.

Down to Business

Layers of Fear review

Piecing together the artist’s minds needs players to explore a handful of haunted houses. Within them are clues like handwritten notes and truncated newspaper clippings that speak to the artists’ tortured pasts. Meanwhile, distant screams and sudden thunderclaps cut through the air. Strange creatures lurk in the shadows. And even furniture starts to dance around you.

Within the madness, lies some genius tricks I never saw coming. Tricks that genuinely make you leap from your seat. However, not much has changed compared to the original, so much so that it’s easy to anticipate most of the scare tactics. And if you can anticipate a scare, it takes away the potential for a genuine fright.

What’s more? Layers of Fear (2023) lacks enough variety throughout its 12-hour playthrough. At certain intervals, it feels like a familiar walkthrough. Like something you’ve done a couple more times before. Toward the second half of the game, you’re nearly ready to put the controller down, save for the fact that you’ve already put in so many hours – might as well finish.

The run-dry diminishing curve of Layers of Fear’s (2023) playthrough is further exacerbated by Layers of Fear (2019) having a weaker, longer campaign. It’s where the actor’s story starts, and the point at which the remake starts to trek downhill.

Here’s a Flashlight, Light Your Way

Layers of Fear flash light

One thing that elevates the gameplay is the new flashlight you receive in the remake. While a flashlight sounds basic, it helps to diversify the gameplay a little more. Otherwise, you spend much of your time walking the haunted hallways, opening doors, and rummaging through drawers for clues.

Instead, the flashlight helps to illuminate dark areas to uncover hidden objects. It’s especially crucial when solving puzzles, where more often than not, you’ll have to uncover hidden clues somewhere in the room. Alternatively, whenever you hear ghostly voices, you can use the flashlight to light the way for you.

Better still, you can shine your flashlight on mannequins to bring them to life and have them run errands for you. How cool is that? It gets better when you can use it to stun enemies. Before, all you could do was run, which didn’t always turn out great for players who aren’t quick on their feet. In spite of all the perks, though, the flashlight does tend to overpower you against enemies. Especially since it recharges too quickly. It makes it a little too easy, which is the complete opposite of what a psychological horror should feel.

Same Old Puzzles

layers of fear puzzles

Finally, you have the puzzles, which don’t seem to have changed one bit. Before, players had to search for clues to do puzzles like opening a safe or lock. Mind you, the clues are actual numbers you can directly put into the combination; no additional task required. It’s all too easy to even call them puzzles. Errands, perhaps. Just mere steps in a game to progress further.


It’s a no-brainer whether the remake looks good. However, does it feel as good to play? Well, it seems Layers of Fear (2023) solely placed its focus on curating visually stunning scenes with Unreal Engine 5 and completely forgot about the horror experience itself.

At most, there are one or two layers of fear here. The rest is filled to the brim with predictable scare tactics, random jump scares, and the same tricks and treats gamers have outgrown.

In the end, it comes down to two things: whether you’re looking for an exquisite horror experience or simply want to reminisce about the good, old times. In the former, you’re better placed elsewhere. However, the latter does satisfy the craving, with a 12-hour remake bundle that stacks up Layers of Fear (2016), its sequel, and the inheritance DLC package.

Layers of Fear Review (PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, & PC)

A “Not Quite the Fright” Experience

Hearing about a game called, “Layers of Fear,” it’ll definitely spark intrigue. Perhaps even wondering how many layers you can get past before pissing your pants. Unfortunately, Layers of Fear barely has any more than one or two spooky layers. The rest are full of random jump scares and predictable scare tactics. That said, it’s not a complete waste, as there are some great nostalgic moments for players who enjoyed Layers of Fear (2016) and Layers of Fear 2 (2019) titles. As well as absolutely gorgeous visuals, thanks to using Unreal Engine 5.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.