Bloober Team has made a name for itself over the years with its distinctive approach to psychological horror as seen with games like 2021’s The Medium, and, of course, Layers of Fear and Layers of Fear 2.
Recently, Bloober Team announced a brand new entry in the Layers of Fear saga called “Layers of Fears” which is described as a “first-person psychedelic horror chronicle” and will feature a brand new story for players to sink their teeth into.
Eager to learn more about Layers of Fears, and things like Bloober’s approach in regards to writing about sensitive topics, we reached out to the team with some of our most burning questions. With answers sent back to us from Bloober Team CEO Piotr Babieno, we’re excited to be able to share with you everything we’ve recently learned about Layers of Fears!
Bloober Team CEO Piotr Babieno on Layers of Fears & Bloober's approach to writing sensitive topics
Shacknews: First, can you tell us more about what Layers of Fears is and where it fits among previously released Layers of Fear games?
Bloober Team CEO, Piotr Babieno: Layers of Fears is a new and reimagined horror game built on the foundations of the original Layers of Fear, and Layers of Fear 2. It’s the complete story fans have come to love, but re-told in a fresh way that expands themes that we feel were previously underdeveloped. It’s a combination of old and new narratives. We took all the previously released titles, combined them into a single game, developed this new concept from the ground up using Unreal Engine 5, and added a new gameplay direction.
Shacknews: How did the team settle on the name Layers of Fears, and were there any other names that were being considered?
Babieno: It’s not easy to come up with a good title, especially since we feel this game is quite a new concept. We didn't want to mislead our audience or do the game a disservice with a name that implies a simple remaster, or promises a traditional sequel.
Internally, we think of this project as a reimagining of the entire Layers of Fear story arc packaged into a single title, and bolstered by the addition of new content. We are fully aware the name is unconventional, but you can tell by our studio’s name that such things have never stopped us before. We’ve chosen Layers of Fears because it on one hand brings together the original titles, but on the other shows that it is something new as well.
Shacknews: Do gamers need to play previous Layers of Fear games in order to dive in and enjoy Layers of Fears?
Babieno: No, they don’t. They will learn the complete story, and more, by playing Layers of Fears. Still, fans that have played every game in the series before can look forward to the game as well. The new storylines along with revamped gameplay mechanics will provide an experience that is both familiar and fresh for returning fans.
Shacknews: Layers of Fears is described as a “psychedelic horror chronicle” - can you elaborate on this a bit more?
Babieno: Actually, this is something that has been an important part of the series since the first game. There’s a lot of disturbing imagery, creepy sound design and improbable geometry in the franchise. When combined with the psychological direction of the plot, this yields the “psychedelic” mood we aim for.
Shacknews: What are some of the new features and story elements that Layers of Fear fans can look forward to in Layers of Fears?
Babieno: Quite a few things come to mind that we are very excited about! We will reveal more as we approach our release window next year. That being said, one thing that we already pointed to in the reveal trailer is the much more pronounced role of the painter’s wife. If you listen closely to her narration across the trailer, you can probably deduce much more. Fans of the series can rediscover the familiar story, but from a different perspective so that they can expect new emotions and excitement.
Shacknews: Layers of Fears is brought to life through Unreal Engine 5, can you talk a bit about the tech and development side of Layers of Fears such as the game’s use of the Lumen system?
Babieno: We’ve made the switch from Unity to Unreal Engine 5 because, as a horror game, Layers of Fears depends heavily on atmospheric lighting. UE5’s Lumen gives us the possibility to use advanced lighting, which will have an important role in gameplay and creating the perfect horror mood.
Shacknews: While not directly related to Layers of Fears (or is it?), we’re curious whether the team plans to revisit the world of The Medium again. We’re also curious about what the team learned tech-wise from developing The Medium, and whether that influenced the tech and development of Layers of Fears.
Babieno: We’re proud and humbled at the same time that players are so intrigued by the world and lore of The Medium. However, truth be told, no new developments are in the works for that IP at the moment. Nonetheless, as you can see with Layers of Fears or Observer: System Redux, we always think about what we can do next with the worlds we created and fell in love with. So, never say never. Tech-wise, The Medium was a very challenging project and we learnt a lot from it. But it being a third-person perspective game, I’d say this knowledge will have a bigger impact on our other projects rather than Layers of Fears.
Shacknews: Bloober is known for its distinct approach to psychological horror. With this in mind, what are some of the challenges in writing narrative for games like Layers of Fears which deal with difficult topics and subject matter
Babieno: We always try to focus on the darker side of the human psyche and take a closer look at the complex nature of our fears. That is why characters are often battling their own inner demons. However, our goal is not simply giving answers to players, but the opportunity to discover their story by themselves. A well-constructed psychological horror game or movie should get under your skin, relying more on atmosphere, subtly creepy details, suggestions and ambiguity.
The biggest challenge for us is to balance the amounts of tension, intrigue, and the narrative, while not overloading the players. We want them to be driven to move forward despite being in an uncomfortable situation. It is also important to create immersion while keeping a certain degree of “unrealism”. Writing the narrative for our psychological horror games has been met with criticism from other areas of the world which has made us aware of how the topic is perceived elsewhere, and we know how important it is to handle this sensitive subject matter carefully.
Part of what makes our games appealing is the portrayal of broken and unstable characters, and in order to learn how to best incorporate these topics into our games we have been working with specialists to learn how to approach them in our narrative. It’s important to point out that, while our stories revolve around sensitive topics, the manner in which they are presented and interpreted is not necessarily Bloober’s point of view. We simply set the stage for this difficult subject matter to shine a light on some of the darkest facets of the human psyche and give free reign to the player to interpret them in whichever way resonates with them.
Shacknews: What were some of the horror inspirations behind Layers of Fears, and what sort of atmosphere can players expect when they play the game?
Babieno: The game remains faithful to the themes of the original games. The original Layers of Fear was heavily inspired by the masterpiece paintings from the past centuries, the architecture and décor from the XIX century and “The Picture of Dorian Grey'', the famous novel written by Oscar Wilde. Layers of Fear 2 tackled the history of cinema – from the innovative art of first special effects by Georges Méliès to more contemporary films. Layers of Fears is a game that has it all, as well as new art-inspired themes, and will use it to both scare you and make you think about the darkness that dwells inside us.
Shacknews: While we’re sure you can’t tell us specifics, we’re curious if there are any other projects that Bloober is working on at the moment that fans should keep an eye out for whether they’re Layers of Fear related, or new?
Babieno: We currently have 2 projects announced. One of them is Layers of Fears, obviously. However, we might have some other surprises up our sleeve. Bloober Team likes to keep a little mystery :)
Shacknews: Finally, where can people go to learn more about Layers of Fear and stay up-to-date on news about the game?
Babieno: While we always try to be proactive and reach the players in their preferred source of news, we also recommend following our official social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and checking out the game’s website or digital store cards. It's also worth keeping an eye out for what's happening at game industry events. We will definitely keep you regularly updated.
We want to conclude by thanking Bloober Team and CEO Piotr Babieno for taking the time to answer all of our questions and help shed light on what gamers can look forward to with Layers of Fears.
For more on Bloober Team, be sure to check out the studio's official website, and for more on Layers of Fears, head over to the game's website and don't forget to wishlist the game on Steam if you haven't already.
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