Layers Of Fear gets a surrealist makeover with Inheritance DLC
While not everyone was enamored with the slow pacing and lack of typical gameplay elements, Layers Of Fear has still made quite the splash in the horror gaming scene, earning a positive review from us earlier this year.
Now six months on from the base game's full release, the Inheritance DLC is here to offer up more disturbing memories as you explore the past through the halls of the mad painter's haunted home. Switching gears, Inheritance is told from the point of view of the painter's daughter, who has returned home.
It wasn't just the painter's psyche who shattered...
Those horrible screams -- both from her father's anger and her mother's pain -- have followed her through all the years, and she's headed back to confront her childhood and silence the voices once and for all (remind you a bit of the Oculus plot?).
Rather than unearthing the cause of the painter's madness, you learn instead about how that madness impacted his family, hearing the painter's cruel lessons and cold indifference echoing from the past while traversing shadowed hallways.
Extending The Layers Of Fear Story
DLC for horror games can be tricky business, since the cat is already out of the bag in terms of what's really going on and what scares to expect.
Outlast's Whistleblower DLC, for instance, frequently gets knocked for being too similar to the base game -- and that was a concern here, especially considering the small setting and narrowly focused gameplay.
The base gameplay and setting will be familiar
There are a lot of familiar tropes from the base game – turning around as the halls change, flying backwards when jump scares show up, a home base where you see the drawings you've found, etc. - but they are presented differently enough to not be a total rehash.
While you start out in the same area and go to each segment of the house the painter previously visited, you are transported to a different time or version of the house filtered through the daughter's recollections, resulting in very different imagery and level layout.
Paintings are significantly more abstract and surrealist than in the base game, so even the color scheme is more varied from what returning players might expect.
Tweaking The Base Game
It's not just the landscape that's changed though, as some much needed mechanical differences have been worked into the gameplay. There's still no jumping, crouching, shooting, etc. but more has been added in to avoid that dreaded “walking simulator” tag.
Instead of just exploring until a jump scare happens or a door finally unlocks, there are more active dangers this time around that are seeking you out and need to be avoided.
While exploring a world themed entirely around a child's drawing, for instance, the creature stalking you is a cardboard cut out snake. While exploring the past inside a realistic landscape painting, the antagonist is instead the angry dog that was burned alive by the painter.
Although you still can't vault over obstacles, vertical movement has made its way in during the past segments as the painter's daughter toddles around and uses cascading drawers to reach higher areas (bringing to mind a bit of Among The Sleep).
Another much-needed addition is increased interactivity beyond just pushing open doors or pulling open dressers, although these new options aren't incredibly intuitive and can lead to frustration. In one particular area I was certain I'd hit a bug and needed to restart, as I couldn't go back the way I came but was unable to cross an area to go forward.
It turned out there was an object that looked like it was part of the junk in the background that had to be physically pushed – but it didn't have the usual hand icon indicating interaction was possible. There was about 10 minutes of frustrated, aimless wandering until I accidentally bumped into this particular object and noticed it moved.
This uncrossable gulf of childhood memories was quite vexing
The story in Inheritance actually unfolds in more interesting ways than the base game, rather than just hearing flashbacks when you find an object or drawing.
In particular a segment where the daughter learns about she can interact with the painting world by watching a children's play is quite clever, but there's plenty of other twists.
With new gameplay additions, an extra layer to the story told from a different point of view, and a revamped visual style, Inheritance is a welcome addition to the Layers Of Fear universe. If you loved the base game – or even just liked it but wished there was more to sink your teeth into – then this a DLC well worth the price of admission.