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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

Because Cthulu. How Layers of Fear 2 let itself down in the endgame

I loved Layers of Fear yet somehow the second instalment managed to completely pass me by until I spotted it on sale last year. Eagerly I grabbed it, after all I had particularly enjoyed the storytelling and aesthetic of the Inheritance DLC for the first game. I loved this game and even had quite an interesting conversation about what the endings all together could mean... * Until I collected and decoded the mysterious objects that only appear during New Game Plus mode.

Before I unlocked these items I theorised that perhaps the second game could be seen as an allegory for gender identity. You are given choices to make throughout the game leading you down one path or another. The endings show the main character as either a male or a female in the final moments, and there were a couple of neat things in the body of the game that really spoke to this theory. I particularly remember gasping when I heard the Director say: "Do you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?" This fit perfectly with the idea that this was a metaphor for someone wrestling with who they were.

However, by finding these objects and decoding them it speaks to something a little more supernatural. Rather than these events happening in the protagonist's head, instead they played out for real, some kind of Cthulu warping and twisting their reality to put them through these trials.

I have to wonder why they did this. The thing that made Layers of Fear great was the idea that this was all in the character's head, their perceptions, their fears, their desires. That was so much scarier to me than if these events were all actually happening. Locked in a nightmare of their own making, where the only way to escape was to either embrace a part of themselves or deny it, kill it. To cheapen that by going "lol, old god did it", it really lets the game down.

The Actor struggling with their gender identity and the events of the game being a metaphor for their internal struggle would have been something so unique and surprising, something I have never seen before and I've been playing games all my life. I do not know why they felt the addition of the supernatural would improve it and honestly it feels a little like pandering. If Bloober team had just had the courage to tell this story then I feel the game would have been better for it.

Even if my theory isn't canon, I believe that leaving a little mystery to the events behind the game would have been more satisfying. Alas, yet another disappointment. Credit where it's due though, not as disappointing as Observer.

*I have a LOT to say about this theory. Wanna read it? Come back tomorrow!

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