Let me preface all of the following with this; I’m immensely terrified of the ocean; and Silt exemplified and even in some degrees – heightened exactly what I’m scared of; the vast unknown that lays beneath the surface of our seas. It’s without a doubt one of the more uniquely creepy, and yet visually stunning games I’ve played in quite some time, and re-sparked a love for puzzlers that I haven’t felt in quite some time.
From the onset of the game, we are presented with one terrifyingly vague instruction: seek out the Goliaths lurking in the depths of the ocean. From my horrifying experiences with Subnautica, this alone immediately sent chills down my spine (and reminded me of one two many heart-attack inducing encounters), and set the tone for the rest of the game. We don’t know what’s out there creeping along the ocean floor, but we’re about to find out.
It’s the introduction to the game world , as the vagueness of the setting and game objective just add to the mystery and thriller vibes the game constantly throws at you. Silt truly has a classic ‘horror story’ feel about it throughout, and for someone who typically cowers at the thought of this, I was pleasantly surprised, finding it incredibly hard to put down.
In a hauntingly accurate way, Silt pulls away all colour from it’s representation of our oceans vast depths, presenting it’s art-style in a uniquely creepy aesthetic, with a purely monochromatic colour-scheme (think of a more hand-drawn Limbo). This is complimented perfectly by its spine-tingling soundtrack and sound design presented throughout. To me, there’s nothing more terrifying than the chilling sound of deep-sea diver gasps for air through their oxygen tank, as they stare out amongst the vast abyss.
Gameplay-wise, Silt revolves around solving various puzzles primarily through our deep-sea diver’s spirit-like power to possess and control the body of nearby marine-life. It’s an incredibly fun and unique approach to puzzle-mechanics, which works really to maintain the creepy vibe the game is constantly throwing in your face. Each varying sea-creature you possess has the ability to eliminate or bypass varying obstacles placed in your path, which also sets up the need for memorizing what each creature you encounter can actually assist with (which for me, was a constant reminder of my gold-fish sized memory). For the feint of heart as well, there are plenty of unexpected jump-scares, so just as a word-of-warning – be prepared for this if everything so far sounds up your alley.
If there’s one drawback to be found in Silt, it’d likely relate to the level of ease presented in some of the puzzles. it took a little bit longer than expected for the complexity of the game to ramp up, which isn”t necessarily a bad thing, but at times it felt like the art style and thriller aesthetic was the primary focus overall, rather than the puzzle mechanics. All in all, coming from someone who is terrified of horror-themed games, and has a crippling fear of the ocean; I’m incredibly surprised to say I enjoyed every minute of my play through of Silt. It had me on the edge of my seat my entire play through, and yelling at my computer monitor far too many times, which I think is exactly what the team at Spiral Circus set out to do. It’s by far one of the best Indie games I’ve played this year, and I really couldn’t recommend it more!