Layers Of Fear finally returns to Playstation with its stand-alone VR offering. Do we have a new PSVR horror contender to topple the likes of the mighty Resident Evil 7 VR?
This VR version of the 2016 psychological & psychedelic horror game comes from the team behind the mainline series as well as other pant-wettingly scary titles like The Medium, Blair Witch. They even gave us the Sci-Fi Dystopian thriller Observer System Redux, proving they have plenty of experience in dropping players deep into their disturbing creations.
So let’s pop on our VR headset, clear some space around us and dive on in shall we?
(Disclaimer: FinalBoss does not suggest that you do any diving in your living room, certainly not while wearing a VR headset)
Layers Of Fear VR drops you into the shoes of a troubled portrait artist struggling to finish one final piece of work. You will find yourself in the ground floor entrance of a lavish home with many rooms to explore and items to investigate which may help to piece together the painter’s life as well as their current mental state.
The game is played using 2 move controllers only, items can be picked up, drawers and cupboards can be opened and doors can be swung open. Where the use of move controllers lets things down is in its lack of a joystick, moving around consists of having to hold the Move button on the right controller to walk forwards and O to walk backward.
It is simple enough to get used to this but it does feel that having the option of DualShock 4 support would have been beneficial for some players possibly using button prompts to interact with objects instead.
Where the gameplay comes into its own nicely is when the house starts changing of its own accord. After you go to the artists’ studio on the ground floor and pull off the sheet covering and unfinished painting you leave via the door you entered, but the hallway you enter is nothing like the room you stepped out of previously.
Layers Of Fear VR gives you a real sense of disorientation and a feeling of being trapped in a maze of lavish decor and spooky paintings. There are even times later in the game where you will walk through a room, find no way through and turn around only to find that the room is not as it was just a second ago.
As you can expect this isn’t going to be a peaceful walk through a lavish house, there are some strange goings on of course. From the multiple portraits that cover the walls to the old worn out and often dismembered dolls found all around the house.
As well as this the game gives you a visions option that you can choose to opt in for before playing. This adds extra visual effects during certain parts of the game where the colours can blur or the screen may warp to add to your disorientation. if you can stomach these visions it makes for a very good experience, but be wary this only gets more intense as the game goes on.
Where the gameplay experience stands out exceptionally is in its use of audio, starting simply with the sound of thunder outside the windows and adding increasingly ominous music which can only add to the scary atmosphere.
The best thing about the audio is the use of the VR headsets 3D audio. Playing a game like this using the headsets in-ear headphones or better plugging a headset into the audio jack is a must. Creepy sounds can come from any direction, whether that’s simply a door slamming by itself or a painting flying overhead to crash into the opposite wall, the audio will keep you on edge even when you can’t see anything particularly spooky.
A big part of VR games is having them be accessible to players of all experience levels. Luckily we’re well past the days of the classic Virtual Boy giving us constant neck aches, VR has had to spend many years dealing with the issue of motion sickness especially when free movement is involved.
The game offers plenty of options to players from allowing the previously mentioned visions imagery turned off, having a cone of vision available at different levels when walking and even allowing click turning speed to be increased or decreased allowing for slow turning speeds or quick and smooth turning.
Is It Scary?
Layers Of Fear VR does an excellent job of lulling you into thinking all it has to offer is the odd creepy sound or notes written in blood with some infrequent yet well-executed jump scares thrown in. As mentioned before the atmosphere builds up a brilliant sense of uneasiness and disorientation but don’t think that is all that the game has to offer.
Without offering any spoilers on a port of a game from 2016, there is a portion of the game where you can in fact die and trying to get past this will have your heart pumping.
The big selling point for how scary the game will be is of course the added VR element. If you’re a fan of horror games but have yet to try one in VR then you may be surprised by how immersive the game becomes with an added layer of depth perception and increased field of view.
As mentioned above this is a stand-alone purchase and the previously released DLC is not included, and as much as being in VR adds to the experience it may be a difficult sale for those that have bought and completed the standard game already. However, if you haven’t played the game before or for some time there’s a very good VR horror game to find here.
The main story can be finished in around 3-4 hours but for the completionists out there who want to find all collectables and see all potential endings, you could possibly double this.
Layers Of Fear VR achieves what it sets out to do making for one of the better horror experiences on the Playstation VR platform. There is plenty of game here for the asking price especially if you haven’t already played the original release.
Will you be picking this up to add to your VR horror collection?