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  7. The review of Layers of Fear: Legacy for Switch

The review of Layers of Fear: Legacy for Switch

The review of Layers of Fear: Legacy for Switch

Art and fear also arrive on Nintendo Switch, in an edition that is certainly not perfect

Layers of Fear has already had its little moment of glory, first on PC and then on console. But with the enormous success that Nintendo Switch is having, which leads it to sometimes welcome embarrassing productions, it would have been almost a sacrilege not to re-propose one of the best psychological horror of recent years. That’s right: you may have never heard of it, but if you are a fan of the genre and haven’t tried Layears of Fear yet, you should run to get it back. You have missed a very deserving exponent of the genre, not without flaws, but full of valid ideas. Layers of Fear: Legacy arrives exclusively on Nintendo Switch, with a set of content that can justify the price.

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The paintings of madness

Layers of Fear catapults us into a universe of despair, madness and art. We experience it firsthand, through the eyes of a protagonist now mentally devastated by a series of unfortunate events, as well as by his passion for whiskey bottles. Our alter ego is an artist obsessed with his creation: he must carry it out at all costs, and it cannot simply be beautiful, it must be perfect. Ambition becomes an obsession, his life a nightmare. Little by little, in the handful of hours it takes to complete the narrative, we will learn important details on the background of the story. What happened to your wife? Why has his Victorian house turned into an inexhaustible source of horrors? Where has your daughter gone? What creatures lurk around every corner, in every room?

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Layear of Fear means (more or less) “the layers of fear”. It is not a title that really manages to scare, excluding some rare scare jumps able to take the youngest by the nose. However, it does something much more professional: it makes every player’s life a mix of anxiety and tension until the end. Without even a moment’s respite.
As for the settings, everything takes place inside the protagonist’s home. But the masterpieces of cinema have taught us that the deepest horrors lurk in everyday life: a house is enough and advances, with its rooms and doors, to be awe-inspiring. Above all, it is human beings who are frightening: and our artist is immediately presented as an unstable individual, with his little nagging obsessions. Until the conclusion (we do not anticipate anything) it is impossible to get a really convincing idea of ​​what happened. We can make hypotheses, collect documents that make us understand certain things, but we can never write the final word once and for all. The same final scene is enlightening, and closes the whole cycle of events told in an almond shape.

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After all, the whole context and the way of telling the events is very important in Layers of Fear. Because in the game mechanics, except for rare brilliant ideas, it remains a walking simulator with minimal environmental interaction. You walk, above all you observe, you listen (a wonderful soundtrack), but then that’s enough. Apart from the two analogs with which to move and turn our gaze, we can only interact with objects and sometimes move them, for example to open doors. But the real strong point of the production is in the direction, everything else is a set of repetitive and obvious mechanics, in a genre that is rarely open to innovations. The title among other things is also extremely driven, and lends itself very little to replayability. There have been just a handful of cases where we have been left wondering what the heck we had to do to move forward. The proposed puzzles are then another side that is not exactly positive: few and not even good, most of the time either they are incredibly simple, or they must simply be solved with a little luck, trying and trying again. There is no taste, no satisfaction, rather a sense of frustration at being interrupted at the finest of the narrative. Keep this in mind: Legacy of Fear is a story of fear, of restlessness. The video game serves to tell it, but the protagonist is not the gameplay.

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Fear at hand

The Nintendo Switch edition is called Layers of Fear: Legacy, and has its strengths and weaknesses, in unstable balance. First of all, it is an excellent title to take with you: in the mountains, perhaps in front of the fireplace, with a pair of headphones it is probably something sublime. The developers then carefully dedicated themselves to implementing the possibilities of the hybrid console. This means that in portable mode you can use the touch controls, or that the feedback rendered by the Rumble HD allows (if possible) an even more complete identification, even tactile, compared to the other versions on the market. Of course, the Rumble function is available either by playing with the Joy-Con detached from the console (in TV or tabletop mode) or connected to it. Finally, this is a definitive edition: it also includes the Inheritance DLC, which tells the story of the protagonist’s daughter. It doesn’t last long, but it allows us to have a complete package on everything related to the Bloober Team title. All this justifies the price on Nintendo Switch, of around twenty euros.

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However, it’s not all plain sailing, with the main flaw of the conversion being the slowdowns. Layers of Fear: Legacy is never quite as smooth and responsive as we would like: at certain points, when turning the camera or turning the corner, you notice noticeable frame rate problems. It lasts just a second: too short to consider the version plagued by serious problems, but long enough to be able to annoy. We are sure that with a couple of months of overhaul, Nintendo Switch would have been able to “run” the title to its full potential. Isn’t the rush to publish everything right away, while the Nintendo Switch golden age lasts, is making developers more and more hasty?
There is something that does not convince even in the use of the Motion Control of the Joy-Con. To open the doors it is possible to press the right back button and then move the remote control, carrying out the gesture of opening a door. These movements are very rarely as responsive as they should be: most of the time the door stays half open, or even closes. The same applies to the rotation of a lever, and in general any action of this type. It does not happen, however, with a traditional control system, which combines the pressure of the button with that of the left analog. Moral of the story: even here you could work better.
This is all a shame, because we repeat it: Layears of Fear is a truly deserving exponent of its kind. The writer would have gladly given him a full 8, perhaps even more considering the efforts to work better also on the possibilities offered on Nintendo Switch, in addition to the extremely immersive narrative itself. We must instead reconfirm the vote of the PlayStation 4 version, because the optimization on the handheld console has obvious problems, and not all the Nintendo Switch features have been exploited adequately.