Layers of Fear remake review: Are the changes for the better?

Layers of Fear. Image courtesy Bloober Team
Layers of Fear. Image courtesy Bloober Team /

Title: Layers of Fear remake
Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Bloober Team
Platforms: PlayStation 5 (reviewed on), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: June 15, 2023

Bloober Team is the best when it comes to creating games filled to the brim with atmosphere. I will die on the hill that even when their games aren’t the best, they are still pretty amazing. No matter the highs (Layers of Fear 1 and 2) or the lows (Blair Witch and The Medium), every game they make is eerie, atmospheric and beautiful. As if Layers of Fear couldn’t get any better, just released is the Layers of Fear remake with lots of new added content and improved graphics. Grab your paintbrushes and let’s try to paint the perfect portrait one more time.

The Layers of Fear remake changes up the original game a bit by breaking the game into two separate yet related stories: one of a painter alone in his house falling into madness and the other a writer alone in a lighthouse lacking inspiration. The story of the alcoholic painter is a familiar one from the game’s original release, but the inclusion of the writer as the game’s hub is something new. From the hub, you can access chapters of the painter’s story as well as the DLC chapters that open up after the main story completion.

Layers of Fear follows the story of an unnamed painter in the early 1900s. What starts as a happy life full of success, love from a beautiful woman and a darling baby girl quickly spirals into alcoholism, paranoia, madness and loneliness. As the player, your choices determine the ending and there are 3 endings available, not all ENTIRELY bleak. In between the chapters, as you uncover more and more of his story,  you return to the lighthouse to hear a little more from the writer and her experiences and how she relates to his story.

Layers of Fear remake
Layers of Fear. Image courtesy Bloober Team /

When you compare the original to the Layers of Fear remake, the changes are mind-blowing. When I played the original, I can remember thinking about how stunningly beautiful the environment was. The mansion is dark and slightly dreary but starts off grand and beautiful, slowly breaking down to reflect the painter’s mind. In the remake, it makes the original look muddy and plain. The intricate details of the mansion come forward and the storm outside becomes a character in itself. I didn’t think the game could look any better but, here we are.

The voice acting is a new addition to this update but it is mediocre at best. The emotions of the actor don’t usually match the emotions of what they are reading and half the time it feels like you are listening to a high school student reading their presentation at the front of the class. I appreciate the attempt but I would rather just read the notes as before. The only one that portrayed the notes and files as they were meant to be felt like the painter, himself.

There is a mechanic that I believe is a new addition to the gameplay, at least I couldn’t recall it from playing the original Layers of Fear. As the mansion grows darker, the painter is given a lantern that not only lights the way but dispels blocks in his memory and the image of his disfigured wife that keeps chasing him. You do have the option of facing your beloved wife or running away and your choices on this will change the ending.

Though there are new additions with shiny, new graphics, the game is basically the same as before. If you have played the original, you will find yourself having a lot of deja vu. But for those that are new to this game, the Layers of Fear remake is sure to create many new fans.

Unfortunately, the ending is the biggest anchor holding this game down. The ending is so abrupt that you don’t even know it’s the end until you are handed the few DLC options. With an ending like that, it takes away from the flow of the back and forth between the stories. While it isn’t a deal breaker, it could have been done better or at least given us some warning.

The Layers of Fear remake is truly terrifying, eliciting screams and yelps from me as I played. They use binaural audio, so utilizing headphones is truly the best way to play. It is a great bite-sized horror game and a spooky way to spend several hours. My recommendation is just to skip the audio notes and really enjoy the environment around you. Because there are several choices and directions to go during the game, replayability is there. Just don’t be too surprised when it ends suddenly.

Bloober Team is set to create the newest installment to Silent Hill and if anyone can create that eeriness that the original games had, Bloober Team can do it. They keep making similar mistakes in their games lately (namely lackluster endings) but I am crossing my fingers that they learn from the feedback.

Layers of Fear remake (PS5) Score: 8.5/10

If we were to just judge the Layers of Fear remake on the sound and graphical improvements alone, it would far surpass its predecessor. Unfortunately, an abrupt ending and less-than-impressive voice acting takes the player away from the immersion and makes us yearn for some of the original qualities.

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A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.