Mirror Layers is, on the surface, a very standard horror experience. I’m trapped in a house with two realities and hidden secrets, being hunted by a terrifying humanoid monster of some kind. I can shimmy underneath a bed or lock myself in a closet to avoid its gaze, but I’m still trapped in this Silent Hill-esque mystery apartment.
The normal apartment is perfectly mundane — the only thing scary is thinking about how much rent costs for this spacious spot. The evil, alternate universe apartment is dark, corrupted with dark veiny roots, and altogether nefarious.
Ah, but there’s a twist! There’s an old PC in the apartment, and I can use it to ask questions and check progress with other players who are at a similar stage. We’re all connected to the same PC, and we can ask questions, answer each other, share notes we’ve drawn, and even digitize and upload quest items we find along the way. This is a game where the FAQs are built right in, and you get the sense of solving the mystery with other people in real time.
It’s a very clever trick, and it completely transforms the game. Developers Revolab and Ivan Zanotti have made a social game that works well because it offers a very good incentive to work with these other players. First of all, I don’t want to get murdered. Second of all, being able to ask real people for help is much more immersive than alt-tabbing and looking up an online walkthrough.
The PC and the other users are essential to my success, and I grow fond of them, even though I only know them by a handle and simple icon. When I’m in the nightmare apartment, I’m hiding and sweating, creeping through dark hallways and jumping at every sound. When I’m back in the normal apartment, I return to the trusty PC and get some encouragement from my new buddies. A friend named HimboGod even shared a helpful tip for staying safe. Hey, thanks pal!
The PC also allows me to kind of sequence break the game — without spoiling the entire show. For instance, at one point I snuck into the nightmare world and managed to snatch a power cord. I got the hell out of there back into the mundane apartment, checked the PC, and saw power cord-related posts. Someone had uploaded each individual piece of the console I would need, and I could 3D print my own copies. I get to benefit from people who have delved deeper into the game than me, but I still have to figure out all the important parts on my own.
I’m not very far into Mirror Layers, but it’s a fascinating indie game that’s worth the $20. It’s on sale until Nov. 5 as well, which makes it appealing for a post-Halloween fright night.