The daughter of a disturbed and abusive painter returns to her home to relive her past in a mansion that comes alive with memories and ghostly apparitions.
Through the eyes of a troubled child
Identification with the main character is a bit easier this time around with the plot revolving around childhood memories presented in all sorts of horrible nightmare sequences that are related to either approval or disapproval of a father’s and mother’s behavior. The game switches perspectives between a grown-up exploring the creepy mansion and a child-like perception of reality in the past. The latter is refreshingly different and makes for the most impressive scenes, e.g. climbing over-sized cupboards and tables or being drawn into a cardboard cut-out fairy-tale forest.
The surreal atmosphere is much more unnerving than the jumpscares of the original game, although there are still some of these special effects. Due to the father-mother-daughter relationship, the story is easier to follow, even if playtime is just short of 1-2 hours which doesn’t leave much room for a suspenseful narrative. Achieving different endings adds to longevity, though, and this time decisions are made much clearer, e.g. by going in a certain direction where the portrait of either the father or mother hangs and obeying or disobeying certain orders.
Familiar walking and puzzling
Gameplay still consists of walking through moody environments, picking up information from well-written and disturbing letters, looking at even more terrifying paintings or listening to audio snippets from the past triggered by solving a few puzzles. Even if these are more numerous than in the predecessor, they’re still obscure with a lack of hints. Trial and error solutions are further complicated by objects that are difficult to make out in the detailed and often very dark locations. The inclusion of annoying stealth sequences is also a step back, as dying and restarting scenes doesn’t really add to the terrifying atmosphere.
Disturbing looks and sounds
The graphics and sound design are excellent, as the art direction in the fairy-tale like sequences makes it a much more varied experience than in the original, while voice acting has also been improved. It’s needless to write that all the sound effects like scratching, stomping, screaming, slamming doors, etc. that are so well-known in the horror genre are used to great jumpscare effect, while the music isn’t very prominent, but adds to the overall auditory presentation.
What one has to mention, though, is that just like the original game, even more motion sickness is created due to the slow movement, the weirder environments and strange points of view, so one should be prepared for that as well.
Different story in a well-known mansion
Layers of Fear: Inheritance is a short, but memorable horror experience that still suffers from an over-reliance on jumpscares like the base game, but is much more original in its portrayal of a child’s and adult’s point of view. It’s different enough to set itself apart, but also shares the same psychological horror DNA. Unfortunately this also means that obscure puzzles can prevent a smooth storytelling experience, while there isn’t really much about family problems that hasn’t been told before, deranged father figures and troubled children included.
Buy the DLC together with the original for Xbox One on
the Xbox store
Buy the DLC together with the original for PS4 on
the PSN store
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