Saturday, February 24, 2018

Review: Layers of Fear - Legacy [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While horror games are generally a pretty popular genre to date their representation on the Switch to date, at least from the indie perspective, has been spotty at best. While there have been some varied attempts at getting it right nothing has delivered legitimate scares paired with technically sound gameplay mechanics. The newest entry to the field, Layers of Fear: Legacy, manages to break ahead of the pack pretty substantially in the fright department but be warned that its somewhat passive style of play may still leave you cold if you were hoping for thrills to match.


Playing out more as an experience than a game per se Legacy is interactive in the sense that you will be walking through a house and looking at or using objects but it also lacks any direct conflict. That isn’t to say that the game lacks in a sense of menace and suspense, on the contrary it managed to get me into knots far more than any other indie game on the system to date. It does this through a slowly-revealed story that is appropriately dark and quite grisly that’s told through imagery, a variety of disturbing visions, and bits of letters and notes you’ll find around the house. Over the course of its handful of hours I was consistently eager to keep going and to uncover (quite literally, the game’s use of a painting as symbolism is inspired) more about this tragic and often disturbing tale of a man, his wife, and his daughter.


What complements and reinforces the scares in the game is the ever-changing environment you’ll find yourself in. Serving both as a means to disorient you and keep you off-balance the environment is almost constantly playing tricks on you, with rooms and objects changing the moment you take your eyes off of them. Many times this is just a function of creeping you out a bit but in specific instances this results in puzzles you’ll need to work out in order to proceed. While some of the solutions were more aggravating than others to get just right, in general the solutions are available to you. It’s just a matter of being patient, observant, and perhaps engaging in a bit of trial and error. These scenarios do help a great deal in breaking up the otherwise passive nature of your interaction with the house and they’re an appreciated extra effort. Once you complete the story the add-on content allowing you to experience a little more through a different perspective is also a nice value add.


All said if you’ve been looking for something on the scarier side for your Switch, Layers of Fear: Legacy serves up a grim story with some disturbing images and jump scares along the way. While it gets off to a very slow start once things begin to change and the truth of what has happened begins to reveal itself in general it’s a fun ride from that point on. In general terms the sense of dread and the feeling you get while walking through the house reminded me most of the classic Eternal Darkness, to the point that I was waiting for a bust to turn and watch me as I went by. While it’s certainly lacking in action the quality of the presentation helps to compensate nicely. There’s currently nothing else as chilling on the Switch.

Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Wonderfully grisly details abound
  • Ever-changing rooms keep you off-balance
  • The puzzles are well-integrated
  • The creepiest indie game on the Switch

Cons:
  • Lacking in action
  • Price to runtime ratio is a little steep