The initial Layers of Fear release is one of the most disappointing titles I’ve played this year. It had such a promising concept: go inside the mind and fear-fuelled visions of a painter who is spiralling out of control whilst trying to forge his masterpiece. While the atmosphere did provide some tense moments the gameplay was a largely tedious affair, with predictable jump scares and pointless objectives being the crux of the disappointment. However, I believe in second chances, and when it was announced that DLC which would put you in the shoes of the mad painter’s daughter, I hoped that the developers (Bloober Team) would have tweaked the gameplay to give us the horror-fuelled experience that the original failed to deliver. Sadly this is not the case, and instead of enhancing the overall anecdote and salvaging the experience, Inheritance’s boring gameplay and terrible voice-acting crucify whatever positives the game had going for it.
You look just like your father
Inheritance starts off where the main game did, in the foyer of the mansion where your descent into madness began. However this time around you play as the painter’s unnamed daughter revisiting your childhood home to face your past. As your father’s madness has already come and gone, there are plenty of signs of the struggle that ensued decorating the once affluent premises such as paint spatters and wall scrawlings aplenty.
The gameplay in Inheritance largely follows the same formula as the main game, in which you explore the mansion’s hallways in search of answers, or in the daughter’s case, forgiveness or justification for the antipathy felt for her father. As you navigate the mansion you will experience several flashbacks – memories in which you vicariously relive the daughter’s experiences as a young child. These moments make up the game’s main sequences, designed to drive the story forward and help aid the daughter in her quest for solace. Sadly they are some of the most lamentable video game sequences I have ever played.
First and foremost, it is one of the most insipid horror offerings I have experienced, with next to no moments of bona fide tension or horror in general. The jump scares that littered the main game have ceased to exist and Inheritance’s only real ‘horror’ element is its laughable soundscape of baby laughs and dog barks. Secondly, there are no real objectives given during the sequences, which doesn’t help given these sequences are terribly designed to start with. The biggest offender is when you are reliving the memories from a child’s point of view, which resembles something that I would describe as an infant on acid (and not in a good way). In these sequences the mansion’s furniture and architecture is warped and your surroundings become hard to navigate, and to make matters worse the longer you spend inside a flashback the more frustrating it becomes.
Childhood memories now with 100% more acid
Cracking the da Vinci code
The puzzles (calling them is puzzles is a generous stretch) are merely trial-and-error as there is no real indication as to what you’re supposed to do. You simply have to explore your surroundings and eventually you’ll either piece together the puzzle through sheer happenstance or you’ll stumble on what you need to trigger the next step in the story. The puzzles often resemble the flashback you’ll encounter or some aspect of the narrative. The end of each flashback is dialogue heavy, and here you’ll learn just how far-gone the painter was and how ruinous the daughter’s upbringing must have been. While I appreciate the attempt at trying to get the player to feel sorrow for the daughter, the terrible voice-acting only manages to evoke feelings of abhorrence towards the father, as he represents someone who the Sick Puppies song Asshole Father may be titled after.
Another gripe I have with the design is the contrasting levels of brightness. For the most part the game’s atmosphere is aptly lit, however there are areas where the game is almost pitch black, forcing you to channel your inner Vin Diesel in Pitch Black. Couple this with the lack of direction in what you have to do and it can quickly become galling, especially in one sequence where you are tasked with finding a door (not that you know that) in pitch black darkness. I hear what you’re thinking: why not turn the brightness up? Because I have never needed to previously and I shouldn’t have to because of a poorly designed level. Besides, the middle of the room is brightly lit and if I cranked the brightness up I would expect Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven to start playing as if I ascended to the bright lights of the afterlife.
Thankfully the DLC isn’t overly long and you can expect to complete your rendezvous with your childhood home in less than two hours. For those wanting a late checkout at the Madness Mansion Inn, there are multiple endings for you to achieve. However, it’s highly unlikely you’ll feel the urge to go back and punish yourself again.
Kids, this is why you need to eat your carrots
Despite its intriguing promise that I once again hoped the developers would take full advantage of, Layers of Fear: Inheritance is potentially the most disappointing DLC I have ever played. In its paltry two hour length it takes an already average game and manages to make it possibly one of the most humdrum horror experiences I’ve ever experienced.
Reviewed on Xbox One