Thank you all for stopping by. It’s a cool day here in NJ, at least compared to the near-70 degree weather yesterday, so make today a warm apple pie day.
I’m a gamer, as you might know from my previous posts, and when I saw “Layers of Fear” pop up in my PS4’s “Recommended for You” box, I was like, “…The hell is this?” So I checked it out, thought it looked awesome, and bought the crap out of it, because I love all things horror and this game seemed like a great addition to my virtual library.
I was not disappointed–but for reasons far different than what I suspected.
Minor spoilers for Silent Hill 2, Fatal Frame 3, and Mass Effect 3, but NOT Layers of Fear, follow.
Brief Game Overview: A painter wants to paint his magnum opus, the piece that will put him back on top of the art world, but he’s been losing his mind after a great tragedy. He’s having trouble painting because he’s having violent hallucinations, turning his beautiful mansion into a nightmarish Escher work full of vengeful apparitions. Furniture flies around on its own, floors give out, dolls start multiplying, corning him in a small room–typical haunted house stuff, except, as this is basically a walking simulator with a survival mechanic, the first-person view makes his confusion and terror all the more palpable.
Here’s the kicker: There are three endings to this game. I’ve beaten it five times and only gotten one.
The ending requirements aren’t clear. It’s not like Mass Effect 3, where you go left, right, forward, or shoot a hologram to save/damn the whole universe. It’s not like Life is Strange, where all your choices boil down to a single decision with two possibilities that remain entirely unchanged by all your other actions. This isn’t even a Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls style choice-system, where you could get multiple endings from plot-based but obvious stuff like “Did you get everyone out of the burning building?” or “Did you yell ‘Jason!’ enough times?”
Layers of Fear is a Silent Hill 2 level of choice. It’s a Fatal Frame 3.
I reference these because all three games did the same thing: they provided alternate endings, but gave you almost no indication on how to get them. SH2 had some obvious ones, of course–use the dog key, or collect the four sacred relics, for two clear endings–but the “Drowned” ending? I would never have known to examine Angela’s knife that much to contribute to James’s depression, and the fact that this was a more likely ending if you consistently played with moderate to low health when you could heal instead was pure genius. If you wanted the ending where he was suicidal, you had to PLAY as if he was suicidal.
FF3 also had a secret ending where, if you absolutely avoided one room in one level and did a bunch of random steps, you’d get a secret item that would prevent one character from dying. The ending wasn’t drastically changed, but still, that was really cool.
Layers of Fear takes the same steps. Collectibles are (apparently) factored into the end, and you have to get them all if you want to experience two of the other three endings. That can’t be all, though, because I’ve done this and not gotten anywhere.
But what about your other choices? Do you go through the paint-splattered door, or the one full of toxic goo?
Did you pull the chain, causing The Artist to scream in the distance, or use the crank?
Did you pull your paintings out of the hole, and did you jump in after?
How many times did you ‘die’? Were they intentional? Did you embrace it as a means of atoning for his prior actions, or is death just a way out of the nightmare?
Did you feed the stuffed cat?
I have no friggin’ idea what choices lead to what endings. I’ve Googled this and everyone seems to have different opinions–even video walkthroughs have reportedly not worked for some. How is that? How can you follow someone else, step-by-step, through a game and get a different ending?
Simple: This is a resurrection of REAL choice-based gaming, one where every move you make, from the tilt of your head to the items in your pocket to how many times the writhing PT demon snaps your neck, changes the ending.
Honestly, I’m really frustrated that I can’t get the other endings because earning one will get me that last trophy because I want to experience them all. Even more honestly, I’m gonna keep playing, even though the rooms no longer confuse me and the scares no longer make me so much as flinch.
And, most honestly of all, if this studio comes out with a new (hopefully longer) game even remotely as choose-y as this one, I’ll be one of the first to slap down my pre-order.
Seriously, play this game. 10/10, would buy again. And stay warm, folks.