A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The ultimate message (from one of several endings) can be redemption for past misdeeds.
Positive Role Models
The main character is an actor who has severe mental issues.
Ease of Play
Some survival sections require quick reflexes; otherwise, exploration is gently guided from area to area.
Violence & Scariness
There are scenes with mutilated mannequins and splashes of blood, implying violence. Players will shoot at human or humanoid-like creatures, and players will be chased by a demon-like creature at certain moments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some suggested nudity and partial nudity of mannequins shown.
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Rare use of "bulls--t," g-ddamn," "bastards," and "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
A sequel to 2016's Layers of Fear.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Layers of Fear 2 is a downloadable survival horror game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game's a sequel to 2016's Layers of Fear, and casts players as a mentally disturbed actor suffering post-traumatic stress as a result of childhood abuse. Dialogue contains occasional profanity in the form of words like “bulls--t,” “g-ddamn,” bastards,” and “f--k." Players are exposed to disturbing voice over between an abusive father and his young son, and implied violence pervades the storyline. Players are asked to shoot human (or humanoid) targets, and frequently encounter mutilated and dismembered mannequins and hallways covered in blood In some sequences, players can be chased and killed by a monstrous demon-like entity. Beyond this, the general tone of the game ranges from low-grade tension to outright horror, with thick darkness, frightening imagery, and frequent jump scares.
Is It Any Good?
This survival-horror sequel does a fairly good job of walking the tightrope of familiarity and innovation, but lacking the surprise of its predecessor, could feel like “too much of the same.” There's something inherently spooky in Layers of Fear 2 about cruise ships, especially the Art Deco ships of the 1930's, and the claustrophobic hallways, moody lighting, and cage-style elevators set the stage for horror. As in the original Layers of Fear, the main character's got some issues that need working out. Clues to your outer and inner lives pop up in the form of messages from your agent and notes to yourself. The more doors you open and clues you find, the stranger things get. All too soon, it's hard to tell the difference between reality and nightmare.
While this kind of gameplay's expertly done, the problem is that scares aren't scary when you know they're coming. Fans of the first game will anticipate the jump scares fairly easily, and that lowers their impact. The story will feel like a bit of a re-tread too. Without spoiling anything, let's just say it involves a specific kind of disaster and the workings of a highly dysfunctional family. (Note: along with disturbing dialog, visuals suggest and show kids in serious peril. Add to that the prevalence of darkness, things jumping out from the dark, scary, sometimes moving mannequins, and sprays of blood, and this is not a game for younger kids.) Players on the Switch may also want to use the Pro controller instead of the analog nubs, which aren't the most precise when it comes to shooting sequences or the quick reflex moments were analog drift can result in restarting a section all over again. Still, despite covering some fairly familiar ground, horror fans will enjoy when the game makes them tip-toe. The prospect of being chased keeps tension high, dream sequences provide much-needed weirdness, and the gravelly narration by Tony Todd (of Candyman fame) is sure to get horror fans' hearts racing. These, along with references to classic horror movies and the use of all-too-adult themes regarding blame, regret, guilt, and shame make this a memorable psychological horror adventure that's well worth the experience.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.