Layers Of Worry — just lately quietly renamed from its working title Layers Of Worrys — is a sport that requires a little bit of clarification. It shares its title with the 2016 sport of the identical title, and is being overseen by unique builders Bloober Workforce. However it’s neither a remake nor a reboot; though, in some methods, it is each of these issues. It is extra a “reimagining” of the entire Layers Of Worry collection up to now, in addition to its obvious swansong. It incorporates ground-up remakes of the two-and-a-half current video games within the collection in Unreal Engine 5, alongside a brand new gaiden chapter complementing the primary sport, and a brand-new framing narrative tying the whole thing collectively.
I just lately sat in on an early preview presentation of Layers Of Worry, chatting with artistic director Damian Kocurek. Listeners to 1 very particular episode of the EWS podcast would possibly recall that I am one thing of a Layers Of Worry lore theorist, so after all I used to be delighted to nerd out over what this new(ish) sport is all about. Equally detail-oriented horror followers on the market will hopefully share my pleasure once I inform them that sure, the rats are again, and you may even catch a quick glimpse of the Rat Queen.
A lot of the preview was taken up with Kocurek displaying footage from the return to the unique sport. I used to be stunned to see that our previously-unseen protagonist now has seen arms, which come into sight everytime you work together with one thing. I am going to admit that I used to be initially a bit dissatisfied by this. I realised, belatedly, that the best way Layers Of Worry beforehand solid you within the function of a disembodied, floating, sometimes lopsided consciousness enhanced the eeriness significantly.
I used to be mollified, although, when Kocurek made the wonderful level that, along with elevated finances and technical enhancements since 2016, there is a sensible cause to wish to make arms occur. The total incarnation of Layers Of Worry will see you switching between half-a-dozen or so participant characters, so having methods to visually distinguish between them will likely be an enormous assist. OK. Advantageous. Fingers are good, I suppose. There’s additionally an elevated presence of voice-over traces for the protagonists’ internal monologues, though not like the arms, you’ll toggle these off for those who choose your spooks a bit extra old-school.
One other massive departure from the unique is the lantern: a newly-introduced mechanic for the remake that’s half instrument, half weapon, half reason-to-see-hands. Amongst its quite a few capabilities, the lantern will mean you can stun the antagonist when she will get too shut. This raised a variety of questions, as within the unique there was by no means an choice to combat again. The closest you got here to “fight” was the selection to take a look at the ghost of your character’s lifeless spouse — by which case she would possibly do one thing nasty to you — or ignore her, thereby robbing her of the flexibility to mess you up much more. This alternative was basic in figuring out which of the unique sport’s three endings you noticed, so the truth that you may now be turning round to dazzle her along with your lantern beam appears like a fairly main distinction.
Kocurek, in his new function as my Layers Of Worry therapist, assures me that there’ll nonetheless be routes to unlocking totally different endings, and that such encounters might not at all times even occur, relying on how your behaviour as much as that time has formed your path by way of the sport. He is additionally eager to emphasize that whereas the addition of such encounters has elevated the sport’s issue barely from its unique standing as an notorious horror strolling sim, you will not require lightning-fast reflexes to get by way of the brand new sections. Moreover, below the hood, issue in these encounters evolves to match participant efficiency, making certain higher-skilled gamers do not get complacent whereas those that battle will not be locked out of progressing.
The rest of the preview targeted on the sport’s new sections, which signifies that I did not get to see something from the reimagined Inheritance DLC or Layers Of Worry 2 simply but. There was a quick dialogue of The Final Be aware: the brand new chapter complementing the primary Layers Of Worry narrative, which can revisit some acquainted scenes from the spouse’s point-of-view, leading to an fascinating protagonist/antagonist do-si-do as we lastly get her facet of the story.
Primarily, although, the main target was on the brand-new story of the Author, star of the framing narrative which goals to attract the collection’ disparate threads collectively into one linked entire. She’s an intriguing determine. She’s a extra fashionable (though nonetheless not present-day) artist, and her seemingly biographical novels concerning the protagonists from the primary two video games have introduced her to an remoted lighthouse retreat. Reduce off from the world except for a dodgy phone-line permitting her to take calls from her grownup son, it appears inevitable that the competing pressures of artistic expression and familial connection will start to pressure her, in the identical means they took their toll on her topics. Plus lighthouses are simply inherently spooky; I really feel such as you’re assured to start out seeing ghosts for those who spend a number of nights alone in a single.
The brand new Layers Of Worry is being described as each the top of an period for Bloober Workforce and the crowning work of the Layers Of Worry collection. It was the unique Layers Of Worry — one of the crucial lauded video games to emerge out of the post-P.T. immersive horror increase within the mid-2010s — that put Bloober on the horror gaming map, in any case, and it is clear that Bloober Workforce are able to wrap up their work on this collection, as they transfer into their long-awaited remake of Silent Hill 2. However it’s additionally equally obvious from our chat that they intend to take action whereas honouring the sport’s legacy. As a fan of all issues associated to Layers Of Worry, it is heartening to see the collection bow out because the linked trilogy it at all times felt prefer it must be.
Layers Of Worry is predicted in June 2023, although we’re nonetheless awaiting a precise launch date, and will likely be obtainable on Steam.