Silt Review – Glittering Through Muck – Game Informer

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The impeccable graphics and suggestive narrative in this puzzle/adventure title are so vivid that the game’s flaws, like the disappointing lack of direction, stand in stark, stark contrast. The moment I started playing, I was under the monochromatic and restless magic of the aquatic world. However, the magic continued to fade away as I faced unbalanced challenges and tedious objectives.

Gad is undoubtedly one of the prettiest games I’ve played this year. Its underwater world has been brought to life in shades of black, gray and white. But although the color palette is limited, it is skillfully implemented. Deep darkness gives way to foggy darkness, pierced by brilliant light. The artistic scenes have been meticulously detailed. Each feature and figure is shaded and embellished in a way that prompts me to stop and admire the screen rather than move on to my next objective. One moment, I float on a sea floor, choked with reeds; In the next, I emerge from the distant mouth of a passive, needle-pointed monstrosity, and both scenes capture my attention equally. The dark and light motifs of the graphics also extend wonderfully into the game’s exploration of those themes.

I begin my adventure with some ominous and poetic lines written on the screen. They are not words of encouragement. Instead, they point to power with instructions ending with the phrase “Seal my destiny.” This is a captivating opening. However, more simply put, the objective of the game is to solve puzzles and defeat several water bosses with intelligence rather than battle to bring the mysterious machine to life.

Soon after the words disappear, the limp silhouette of a diver appears and twinkles to life as a flashing light fills the helmet. I quickly learned that I could cast this light from my diver form into the bodies of surrounding aquatic life, thus gaining their powers until I decided to return to the humanoid swimmer. The implications of manipulating other beings to suit my purposes are disturbing and fascinating. And the game dives even deeper into them because it exploits the one thing video games can inspire that other, non-interactive, forms of entertainment cannot: guilt.

In order to solve puzzles that let my swimmer move on to the next objective, I often have to keep the fish around me. In the beginning, this meant borrowing the fangs of a jagged fish to cut the progress-inhibiting rope. However, as the game progresses, I increasingly have to harm the creatures I control and, eventually, sacrifice them for my greater good. Faced with a conundrum that required me to lead a school of fish in the hungry claws of carnivorous plants, I hesitate. Realizing that I have no choice if I want to move on, I ruin trustworthy, harmless creatures. My growing suspicions have been confirmed that I’m not the good guy here, and I love it. Whenever developers take advantage of gaming’s potential, I, the players, participate in what’s happening, and it’s the perfect tool to draw me further into Sylt’s mysterious and terrifying plot.

Sadly, these moments of beauty and contemplation soon fade due to poor design. Leaving any form of HUD to leave the art open makes for a surprising experience, but in this case, it also contributes to the player’s confusion. Problem-solving is important in this kind of puzzle-focused game, but at times during my play, I haven’t figured out what to do next. A helpful gesture or extra light from the camera could have been a huge help, but I often found myself floating around the world, aimless and jittery about what to do.

Many challenges are exhausting. For example, there’s a room where I can place a stingray-like creature with a teleportation dash that I can use to blow up multiple predators, capture an exploding creature, and for my diver I can clear the dangerous path. Annoyingly, I had to go through a long process of taking control of each stingray and destroying each predator one by one, doing the same things over and over again before moving on. It took a very long time, and anytime I failed—which felt unearned most of the time—I needed to start all over again.

Whatever’s great about Sylt – because of its stunning art style, atmospheric atmosphere, and intense story – I wanted to fall in love with the game. It just won’t let me. Disturbing puzzles with little guidance often slowed my progress and left me banging my head against a wall. Nevertheless, I still encourage players to take the title, if for no other reason than to experience such a gorgeous game.

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