PS5/Xbox Series X/S Review: Layers of Fear (2023)

Is this the ultimate first-person psychedelic horror?

Layers of Fears is a first-person psychedelic horror chronicle focused on tense exploration and immersive storytelling – a new game built upon the foundations of Layers of Fear, LOF: Inheritance, and Layers of Fear 2 with a surprising new story and gameplay direction. Created with the cutting-edge Unreal Engine 5 technology, the game will support Ray Tracing, HDR effect, 4K resolution, and make use of the Lumen system to offer the most immersive and visceral horror experience. Layers of Fears will be the complete, definitive and at the same time unpredictable way to discover the stories of artists enslaved by their obsessions. Prepare for an exquisite horror experience thanks to the expanded plot lines that will cast a new light on the overarching narrative.

I have to admit that I actually missed out on the Layers of Fear series until now, which almost feels like it was perfect for me to experience this reimagining of the series as one complete package. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had played Bloober Team’s other games like Observer and The Medium so I’m familiar with their work, yet nothing could make me anticipate anything quite like this…

First of all, the game is a visual marvel with incredible detail courtesy of UE5. I found myself just staring at my surroundings, it really is that stunning to look at. Then the game goes and pulls the rug out from under you with visual tricks like turning around to find that the room you are in is completely different or that a portrait has moved ever so slightly closer to you. You always feel on edge and the jump scares aren’t overdone but done well throughout the experience.

The controls are easy enough to get to grips with and while the game isn’t particularly difficult, you will remember it for years to come with it’s sense of dread, dark and twisted story with plenty to keep you on your toes. I honestly don’t even want to go into that much detail because it truly is an experience that has to be seen firsthand than whatever I could divulge through snippets of particular moments that stand out.

Combining the 3 games into one experience is a gamble, but one that ultimately pays off. I can see where they interweave even though I hadn’t played the other games, but it still looks and feels like a totally new game and it stands out as Bloober’s best work to date. I know they are moving onto the likes of Silent Hill and more typical horror games than psychological ones, but I do hope they return to their roots one day with classics like this.

I played both the PS5 and Series X versions which both look and run superbly. There was no noticeable difference between the two in terms of performance or load times and I didn’t come across any noticeable glitches throughout my experiences with either version. Like I said, the visuals are stunning from start to finish and it is a treat to look at in 4K HDR with RT. The music is hauntingly beautiful at times and dramatically tense in others, while voice-acting is professional and believable throughout.

The Verdict

Layers of Fear (2023) is one of the best psychological horror games I have played in years. It takes the new tech of UE5 and runs with it, making a truly memorable experience that will please both newcomers and veterans of the series alike.

Score: 9.0