Layers of Concern (2023) overview – A illustration of each the perfect and worst of Bloober Crew

Kath Santarin
10 Min Read

Layers of Concern (2023) brings collectively the tales of Layers of Concern (2016) and Layers of Concern 2 (2019), remastering the 2 horror titles in Unreal Engine 5 to ship a seamless, puzzling journey into the psyche of creatives-gone-mad. Sadly, this remake represents the perfect and worst of Bloober Crew.

This time round you’ll begin out as The Author, a brand new character destined to pen the disturbing tales of The Artist and The Actor, whereas encountering your personal uncommon goings-on within the Lighthouse you’re holed up in. After having received a contest to put in writing a guide about ‘some of the mysterious and tragic figures within the historical past of recent artwork,’ you’ll be exploring winding corridors and tending to a ringing telephone that's eerily paying homage to that within the recreation’s inspiration, P.T.

Quickly, you’re whisked into the grandiose dwelling of The Painter and his household, and issues start to look acquainted once more. A house in full disarray, burning candles and dimly lit lamps in every room, even the letter from pest management threatening us with legal professionals if we contact them once more, are nonetheless right here. The one stark distinction is in high quality; in-built Unreal Engine 5, Layers of Concern (2023) seems to be ridiculously good, at the perfect of occasions, anyway.

Does not look like a wierd alternative in any respect.

Very like the unique Layers of Concern, and even the aforementioned P.T. demo, nothing is because it appears right here. You’ll enter rooms to re-emerge someplace totally different. You’ll see a superbly regular portray remodel into one thing else in a blink of an eye fixed. Shadows formed like The Artist’s spouse slowly creep throughout corridors. With this, you begin questioning your self. What’s actual and what isn’t on this illusory hellscape? It’s as if you’re in purgatory, being pressured to confront a personality’s trauma head-on within the hopes of lastly escaping these endless nightmares.

As the sport goes on and issues solely turn into extra surreal – blood pouring from work, home fires that vanish virtually as rapidly as they seem, doorways spitting you out in fully totally different rooms than those you got here from – extra visible glitches seem too, and I’m fairly positive they aren’t all intentional. Shining my gentle in sure corners revealed the silhouette of paperwork and different gadgets that shouldn’t have been there. Turning tight corners would typically see the partitions flicker, and generally, prompts to work together with gadgets would simply vanish. On one event, I additionally clearly wound up in an space I wasn’t alleged to be in; after waking up in a room and starting to strategy a distant merchandise, I used to be teleported by way of the partitions and to a hall that I may transfer not more than a metre in. There was no escape, besides returning to the principle menu.

Bugs aren’t squashed throughout The Actor’s story both; by this level, my subtitles solely labored as and after they wished to, and my ‘Press to Drag’ setting that I had enabled to save lots of my sore fingers from the shackles of my Xbox controller additionally stopped working. There got here loads of factors the place I questioned whether or not one thing was damaged, or if the sport was taking part in methods with me; normally, it was the latter, however having this thought in any way after encountering situation after situation started to interrupt the immersion.

The player looks at a canvas, with some text on the wall visible behind it, in Layers of Fear (2023)
Get it proper this time…

This apart, The Painter’s story is frequently attention-grabbing, particularly in its latter half. Issues turn into extra hallucinatory, with the luxurious dwelling of The Painter regularly decaying as his previous is revealed additional; the as soon as stunning dwelling merely turns into an infrastructure of ash, decay, and a few really horrific recollections. When dolls and candelabras aren’t spasming all around the present, there’s lots to understand about The Artist’s story; the storytelling itself, the omniscient presence of the injured spouse, and their baby… who we by no means actually do get to know a lot about, however we are able to see that issues weren’t all sunshine and rainbows for them.

Layers of Concern begins out extremely robust, however begins to falter within the second half of the sport. Finally, the story of The Actor let me down; even with The Author to intertwine the tales at play, The Actor’s story doesn’t really feel prefer it suits. Even when approached as a standalone story, it doesn’t construct suspension like The Artists’ story does, the storytelling is nowhere close to as efficient, and the writing is far poorer.

Maybe my endurance had run out by the point I waded by way of the story of The Actor, however piecing collectively the story of this director-gone-mad aboard an all-powerful ship, and the crew that accompanied them, grew to become a drag. It’s obtuse, and infrequently nonsensical, with so many horror tropes squeezed in that it’s arduous to establish what Bloober Crew was making an attempt to do with this explicit story.

The player faces a chest and lamp, with some text on the wall depicting scales, in Layers of Fear (2023)
Is it too late to show it throughout? Sure.

That mentioned, it's bold, and I can respect that. The story of The Actor sees numerous parts added to gameplay; we are able to dash, crawl, climb, and can typically must outrun a monster that – on this state of affairs – jogs my memory an terrible lot of The Factor. Its story is drip-fed to you by way of whispers and merchandise interactions, and puzzles have some depth to them. The methods employed to disorient gamers really feel far more delicate than that of The Artist, too, and the illusions you end up turning into part of are simply as wild as the primary half of the sport. Even with all these nice additions, nonetheless, The Actor's story is not going to captivate you half as a lot as The Artist, and even The Author.

As a lot as The Actor’s story is bold, it in a short time turns into boring. Flicking by way of film reels to find secret doorways, shining a lightweight on mannequins in order that they will retell previous occasions, and usually making an attempt to work out what occurred to our director on board this ship turns into extra irritating than it does horrifying. The ambition on present may be revered, but it surely’s debatable that Bloober Crew obtained too bold right here, and left us with a hodgepodge of horror references and mannequin-related gimmicks to wade by way of at detriment to the precise story of The Actor, and in the end, the entire remake.

Layers of Concern (2023) begins out robust with the story of The Artist, and loses itself amidst its personal ambition in the course of the story of The Actor. Bloober Crew’s as soon as significant exploration of a personality’s descent into insanity rapidly turns into redundant amidst a sea of movie references and blurred storytelling. Layers of Concern is definitely a cohesive remake that brings the unique video games collectively, and there’s no denying that it seems to be nice, however its second act feels extremely misplaced when contrasted in opposition to such a robust begin. Layers of Concern (2023) is one main case of whiplash, that’s for positive, but it surely does showcase Bloober Crew's potential to do good if it will possibly nail down the focal factors of the tales it tells.

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