If you’ve been rummaging through my web-trash for a while now, you might already know that when it comes to horror games I have a strict ‘no, no, no, no, NO!’ kind of policy. Even when I was playing the now released Resident Evil VII game-demo, I had to have my best friend at the wheel throughout. Although I am extremely (borderline unreasonably) masculine, as is evident in my collection of online poetry, I have never been comfortable trudging through a dark, damp, digital hallway all by my jittery self, especially past the crucial hour of 4pm. I can watch, I can give running commentary in the presence of my friends doing just that, but I have never been able to commandeer those perpetually asthmatic, flashlight-wielding horror game protagonists all alone.
UNTIL NOW! Well… almost. I had my mother by my side for a short time while playing Layers of Fear until she got a long-enduring motion sickness as a result… and I might have been listening to the Cox n’ Crendor Podcast for company when she was absent… but APART FROM THESE MITIGATING AIDES I DID IT ALL BY MY BRAVE LITTLE SELF.
Layers of Fear was available for free on last month’s Games With Gold scheme, and after some initial hesitance I big-boy’d the download button and prepared myself for all the
That was to ensue. As I was initially losing my horror game virginity (I’m worth waiting for, videogame developers) I began to appreciate just what goes into making a digital horror experience
And all the developmental factors that therein lie. Audio, by far, was something that Layers of Fear mastered, a veritable catalogue of domestic heebie-jeebie noises were on display, from the creaking of a rocking chair to the inexplicable Gah! of a door shutting behind you abruptly. The domestic setting itself is key to all the
That are experienced when playing Layers of Fear. Chris Franklin did an excellent video explaining the idea of domestic horror in Anatomy, and the horrific domestic setting ties in well here with Layers of Fear‘s domestic narrative themes too. The implicit narrative style also helps in providing the player some
Examinable domestic artefacts are wielders of character-exposition-nuggets, but much of the story is told visually, in the impossibly arranged hallways of our protagonist’s home, in those contorted corridors that disappear behind you as the psychosis of your character begins to betray visual and spatial logic.
Layers of Fear is fantastically eldritch, seeping with the ghoulish and the unearthly.
It gets the first ever Vahrkalla’s Video Games Seal of Approval!