A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Layers of Fear is a mature downloadable horror game that explores the memories and psyche of a mentally disturbed painter. It features dark places, jump scares, scary paintings, quickly changing and distorted environments, and encounters with a hideously deformed ghost woman. There also are many visual indicators of violence such as blood, vocal audio cues, and destroyed furnishings. Though there are mentions of the main character's alcoholism along with many bottles shown, you never see drinking. There's also plenty of profanity, including "f--k" and "s--t" frequently used in flashbacks.
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What's it about?
LAYERS OF FEAR is about the downward mental spiral of a successful artist. Whether the painter's alcoholism is the cause of this degeneration or a product of it, it's ultimately the means by which the painter ruins his marriage, career, and family life. Locked away in a big, spooky house, the painter roams from room to room recalling personal tragedies and piecing together the reasons for them. Things get weirder and weirder over time as painful memories resurface and the house changes into the literal representation of a psychic nightmare.
Is it any good?
Dare to take on the role of a mentally disturbed artist and a familiar premise -- exploring a spooky old house -- and you're in for one of the most unique and unforgettable interactive horror experiences you've ever had. (Note: this review is of an Early Release version. Upon official release, it will have even more content.) The game takes place inside a 19th-century mansion belonging to a once-successful painter who's lost his wife and child. Limping from room to room (the painter's bad leg is indicated in first-person view by a mildly swaying camera) he rummages through drawers, cabinets and closets, trying to understand his role in his own personal tragedy. The artist's mental state is reflected in the somber, low-lit environments, melancholy piano music, and heartbeat-like cadence of his lurching footsteps. Things start spooky as a violent nighttime thunderstorm rages outside and get increasingly frightening as the house starts to shift and change. Soon, you're trapped in a seemingly endless maze where rooms change before your eyes and every closed door fills you with dread. Lighting, sound, and door placement nudge you along while expertly placed visual cues set you up for jump-out-of-your-skin scares. At the same time, a truly dark and affecting story is told of one family's terrible destruction. Cruelty, cursing, alcoholism, and jump scares make this the kind of game the very young and faint of heart should avoid; but gamers who enjoy being scared are in for a wild ride.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about mental illness and crime. Have you seen stories on the news about crimes committed by someone who's mentally ill? Do you think that person should be held responsible?
Think about how and why a person becomes an alcoholic. Is drinking a good coping mechanism?
Discuss your favorite film, TV show, or book that features a scary house. What makes big old houses so spooky?
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