Hal is the main character of Layers of Fear, controlled by the player. He is married to the Wife and father of the Baby, both of whom are never named in the game.
Newspaper clippings and letters have his real name scratched out, presumably by himself.
During the game, he suffers from visual and auditory hallucinations akin to severe schizophrenia, portrayed in diverse and macabre ways.
He was a very well received upcoming artist who fell in love with a talented musician. They married, moved into the house in which the game takes place, and eventually had a child. For a while, they lived happily.
Everything took a turn for the worse however, when his wife was caught in a fire on a department store. She was partially disfigured in the event, and lost the ability to play instruments.
This accident devastated them both, but the Artist became increasingly obsessed in "trying to fix" his wife. Soon enough, he turned into an alcoholic and would lock himself in his studio for days, neglecting both his wife and daughter.
With his sanity rapidly wasting away, he could no longer paint like before. His works were not well received by the critics anymore, and he would take his frustrations out on his family.
Tired of the hell the marriage had become, the wife ended up taking her own life, and his daughter was taken by social services and placed in The St. Marlin Home for Problem Children.
By the beginning of the game, he wanders the house trying to finish his Magnum Opus.
In the Neutral Ending, he fails at creating his Magnum Opus and to acknowledge his own madness. After discarding the painting in a room full of them, he goes back to his studio to begin it all over again.
In the Selfish Ending, he paints a self-portrait. Again, he fails to acknowledge his madness, preferring to believe that all of the suffering he went through was necessary for him to achieve true perfection in his art.
In the Selfless Ending, he paints his wife and daughter. He finally realises it has all been for nothing, and that the painting will not bring his family back. Full of regret, he brings his last work to a room full of his wife's portraits and sets fire on them, burning his hands and possibly dying in the process.
Hal was involved in some unknown accident resulting in him wearing a prosthetic leg (Using clues from the game, we can deduce he served in the military. There are medals scattered all throughout the house).
Hal may suffer from late-onset schizophrenia, yet he believes that it is his wife who suffers from
- In the secret room, which can only be accessed by beating the game at least once, there is a note that says “I’m done here. Hal.” However, once you press the square button to clarify the note, the name “Hal” doesn’t appear in the clarification, which heavily implies that the artist’s name is Hal.
- Some time after his wife's death, Hal kidnapped his own daughter from the St. Marilyn children home and was arrested, the game may begin just after he returns home from court.
- In the first level of "Layers of Fear 2", labelled, "The Unmooring", there is a room with an easel, paint brushes, & other painting materials. It even has boatloads of beer bottles in the closet. This room is an obvious reference to Hal.
- Hal is voiced by two different actors, in the main game he is voiced by Erik Braa, and in the inheritance DLC he is voiced by Chris Nichter.