Layers of Fear: Inheritance

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Layers of Fear: Inheritance Game Poster Image
Short yet spooky adventure in dark psychological landscape.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Story involves a young woman coming to grips with traumatic childhood. Though she gains understanding, things don't end well. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character is a brave young woman investigating specters of her past. How they ultimately affect her character is unknown. 

Ease of Play

Game does a superb job of creating a sense of freedom while leading you exactly where you need to go. Puzzle solutions are occasionally obscure.

Violence

No violence shown, but a lot is implied through letters, drawings, memory flashbacks. 

Sex

Aside from single use of word "whore," no references to sexuality. 

Language

Obscenities are infrequent but include "hell," "goddammit," "f--king" (as a descriptor), as well as "whore." 

Consumerism

Expansion to Layers of Fear game released last year.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References made to alcoholism; bottles of wine are shown; flashbacks contain dialogue referencing drug use. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Layers of Fear: Inheritance is a short downloadable narrative add-on to Layers of Fear. Like the original, it takes place in a decrepit old house and contains nightmarish imagery of creepy dolls, vicious dogs, and house fires. It also has flashbacks with angry and tortured-sounding dialogue, references to drugs and alcohol, and occasional curse words. Since the story revolves around a young woman trying to remember and work through her emotionally abusive childhood, sound and visuals, as well as frequent jump scares, are likely too intense for young children. While violence isn't shown, there's plenty of implied violence in writing, flashbacks, and drawings.

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What's it about?

LAYERS OF FEAR: INHERITANCE follows a young woman returning to her childhood home to work through lingering memories of an abusive childhood. It follows a format similar to the original Layers of Fear game, taking place in the same (but more decrepit) house and creating tension through dark interiors and sudden scares. Though this time the main character is of sound mind, nightmarish scenes play out through flashback. By searching through the remains of her family home, the heroine pieces together a past that's alternately more tragic and more horrifying than she ever expected; ultimately, she comes to understand how her parents' behavior made her the person she is. 

Is it any good?

This change of perspective deserves high marks for digging deeper into the original story. The main game illustrated a tormented artist's rapid descent into madness and hinted at how that descent affected his wife and daughter. Layers of Fear: Inheritance demonstrates the destructive power mental illness has over a family. Returning to the derelict family house decades after the original events, you pick your way across warped floors and through darkened hallways with nothing but a feeble flashlight to protect you from a flood of painful memories.

Like in the original game, plenty of scares abound as things inexplicably move, furniture topples, and ceilings collapse. Even worse, scares are magnified by randomly triggered flashbacks that transform you from a confident adult to a terrified child. The visual distortions caused by accelerating madness in the first game are here caused by vivid, nightmarish memories of fatherly tirades and vicious arguments. You see firsthand the negative effects dysfunctional relationships have on children, the fear and self-loathing they create. The experience is emotionally charged and highly visceral (sometimes too visceral -- the distortions and bobbing camera can be downright nausea-inducing). Once again, the game does a brilliant job of both leading you and letting you explore, and aside from one or two obscure puzzles, it creates a fluid adventure experience soaked in pure horror.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about childhood memories. What's your earliest memory? Is it a good memory or a bad one? 

  • Discuss the effects of disabilities. How does a family change when one member is disabled? 

  • Think about how adult relationships affect children. When parents argue, how do you think it affects the child?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Price: $4.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Aspyr
  • Release date: August 2, 2016
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love scares

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