Layers of Fear 2 is the second installment of the well received independent horror game created by the Polish studio Bloober Team. The production depicts the story of a Hollywood actor who finds himself on a luxurious passenger ship to star in a new movie by a mysterious film director. Like in the first Layers of Fear game, the soundtrack was composed by Arkadiusz Reikowski, this time with additional music by the sound designer of the game, Brunon Lubas.
As the first installment told the story of a painter that went insane, the second one concentrates on the early days of cinema and what might happen in an actor’s head while developing a character. The eponymous layers refer not only to fear but to the statement that every character is a mask, a layer. The player will find out whether the actor loses his identity or manages to stay himself. The game is full of metaphors and symbolism which make it a well written and disturbing psychological horror.
While the first game OST was based on electronics and minimalism, this time Arkadiusz Reikowski decided to write compositions for orchestra. The music was performed by Sofia Session Orchestra and Choir. The orchestral score is the composer’s reference to the classic horror movie soundtracks. Such scores fit well with the atmosphere of terror, and Layers of Fear 2 OST is a great example of that.
Layers of Fear 2 has great psychological potential as a horror game.
The game, unlikely the first installment, has lots of chase scenes, where we run away from a creepy, formless monster. The piece accompanying those scenes is called Formless and is fast paced and intense. The interesting idea is a reference to the location of the game, hence the tuba sounds resembling the ship’s horn appearing in this track. Another intense orchestral cue is Cyclops appearing in the sequence of fleeing from the giant one-eyed creature that spits out fire. It is well orchestrated and spine-tingling. Too bad all the audio becomes quiet in the hiding spots of that location, which ruins the whole immersion.
The orchestral score is the composer’s reference to the classic horror movie soundtracks.
Layers of Fear 2 has great psychological potential as a horror game, and is also very disturbing. The twisted imagery created by its authors reflects in the score as well as the whole audio design. Muffled piano in The Director, metallic percussion hits in Did You Sleep Well (by Brunon Lubas), illusional feeling of tranquillity in The Ocean, Oh So Calm correspond well with what we experience in the gameplay. The awesome lo-fi sound design, dissonant orchestral sounds played in some areas and the floating, detuned version of the Light is Calling track add a lot to the overall tension.
The story about finding the identity and confronting the childhood traumas is very emotional and heartbreaking, hence we discover lots of beautiful melodies in the game soundtrack. Mysterious and haunting The Red Room, moving Light is Calling, melancholic The Stars Are Already There make the player affected and reveal the tragedy of the protagonist. Layers of Fear 2 is not a typical horror game and the score is a great accompaniment to all the game’s psychological burden.
Arkadiusz Reikowski is great in creating emotional landscapes in his scores. He did a great job again, as well as the whole Bloober Team crew when developing this game.