Layers of Fear: Inheritance Xbox One Review
Publisher: Aspyr Media, Inc. Developer: Bloober Team Genre: Psychological Horror
Players: 1 Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: PS4
If you had any questions about what exactly happened to the young daughter at the end of the original Layers of Fear game, then in Inheritance those questions will finally be answered. Expanding on the plot of the original, Inheritance gives you more of an insight into the family life of the father who was obsessed with painting and completing his magnum opus. Inheritance is the story told from the daughters perspective, giving you control over not just the older version, but going all Among The Sleep on us by also giving you control of the daughter when she was a toddler. She returns to her family home to discover what her inheritance is, that was left to her by her father and, whilst there, also uncovers just why he had become so self-destructive in his mission to complete a painting. The daughter wanders around the same house and uncovers memories from her childhood, memories which you then get to roam about in.
This time Inheritance has less door opening and more of a flowing narrative, feeling much more story-driven and having more depth than the main game, allowing you to see more of the relationship between the three family members. Cleverly, you never actually see any of the family members themselves; you do see them in painting form, so you know what they look like, though during the gameplay you never see them properly animated. You find drawings of the family made by the daughter and see distorted images and animations of them, though throughout you never see what they look like properly.
Some scenes will only show an incident from the child’s point of view, meaning at times you will be listening to characters interacting rather than watching them interact, and this allows your own mind to concoct its own images of what is happening. Any interaction there is is very minimal, snippets of animation of a door rattling or the family dog running past setting up the tone of a memory. This can actually be scarier than watching a cutscene play out on-screen; they do say what you don’t see is much more scarier than what you can see and, with the combination of voices and sound effects, it will get your mind conjuring up images of a father losing his grip on reality and taking it out on his family.
The star of the show once again, however, is the mind trickery, though this time is it mild in comparison to the main game, with notably fewer jumpscares, probably to instill a better sense of anticipation and horror as opposed to using cheap scares that only serve to take you out of the experience. The graphics this time around aren’t up to par as the main game; they are fine when you play as the older version of the daughter, with clear visuals as you are looking around the house, though when you jump into the memory sections the graphics here are terrible, the scenery constantly looking as though someone has smeared Vaseline on the camera lens and making everything foggy and blurry, in turn making it very difficult to see where you are going. Some of the camera angles can also make certain parts look quite disorienting; yes, all this has been done intentionally to make the memory look distorted, especially as it is from a child’s perspective, though when you can’t see where you are going it can become rather frustrating gameplay-wise, especially when you consider that most of the game takes place inside these memories.
It’s here in these memories where the mind trickery takes place. Looping rooms make a return, the scenery and objects distorting and morphing around you as you progress though, it isn’t on the same scale as the main game and isn’t nearly as impressive; as mentioned the mind trickery has been scaled back, making room for more story-telling which is much scarier than the visuals this time around. Seen from a child’s point of view adds a sense of vulnerability and that in itself makes the game all the more scary.
The parts that you play as the younger version of the daughter has clearly been inspired by Among the Sleep, though unfortunately the game doesn’t capture the innocence of a child quite in the same way. What reminds you that you are playing as a child is the way in which characters will speak to you and the fact that there are toys and drawings laying about, though in Among the Sleep, the developers captured the child’s movement much better, a slight wobble as you manoeuvred the child around. Here the movement is the same as when you control the older version of the daughter, making you feel as though you are playing as a very short adult as opposed to a child. In Among the Sleep you could also see that you were playing as a child as you could see the body, though here you can’t see anything, making it seem even more like you are playing as a short adult.
There are some puzzles, though they are not as prevalent as the main game and are there mostly to break up the roaming around. Most of the puzzles aren’t really memorable only existing as something for you to solve in order to progress, though the last puzzle of the game does drive some of the story.
Inheritance can take around 1-2 hours to complete, so it is very short content. You can play through and try to get all 3 endings though it didn’t really pull me in enough that I would try another play through. Overall, Layers of Fear: Inheritance isn’t on the same scale as the main game and although it offers something different with the perspective being from the daughter as an adult and child, with Layers of Fear known for being a mind trickery game, then players expecting more of the same will be disappointed. That’s not to say it isn’t completely without its weird and wonderful moments, though Inheritance is mainly best played if you are interested in knowing more about the story.