Silt Review (Xbox One) - (2022)

STAFF REVIEW of Silt (Xbox One)

Monday, June 20, 2022.
by Peggy Doyle

It’s estimated that 80% of the world’s oceans remain unexplored and that is likely why there is always something mysterious, exotic and sometimes scary when you wonder what lies beneath. Developed by indie newcomer, Spiral Games, and Published by Fireshine Games, Silt has a definite Lovecraftian subnautica vibe that is equal parts intriguing and creepy, and I was all in from the very beginning.

Is Limbolike a genre yet? Basically, a 2D scrolling adventure, usually monochromatic and feels like it could have been brought to life via Tim Burton? If not, it is now. Silt is a Limbolike game, but underwater. It’s a surreal underwater puzzle adventure game where you quickly learn that even though there may be plenty of fish in the sea, they are likely all trying to kill you.

As soon as I started Silt, I was taken in by its art style. It’s monochromatic and stylized with its old timey diver and all of the sea life reminded me of the old maritime books that existed before cameras. It’s visually one of the most stunning games I’ve played recently. You start your adventure with a few poetic lines, written rather ominously on your screen, ending with the line ‘seal my fate’. There is no explanation as to why your diver is risking their life or explanation as to how or why you start the game chained to the ocean floor. As you make your way through the story it’s up to you to fill in the gaps. Your diver flickers to life as light fills their helmet and you’re off on your underwater adventure.

You have no weapons, and your only ability is the ability to possess other sea creatures. Yep, some mind melding science fiction stuff there. By holding one of the controller buttons an ‘electric’ looking worm (Your Soul? Your Consciousness?) snakes out from your body and enters the closest creature. You then inhabit that living being and have whatever power they possess. Each animal has their own skill; the piranha has snapping jaws that can break ropes or chains, the ray can pass through solid objects in short bursts, there is an electric eel that can be used to power up objects and an entity, which looks similar to a dandelion head, which can explode on contact. As you can tell I am not a zoologist. Although impressive visually, this was often a very slow mechanic and that caused some issues with a few of the puzzles where time and speed was of the essence. Dreadful creatures lurk in the darkness and will sometimes dart out of their hiding places to deliver a quick death unexpectedly. This caused me to start each new area with a lot of anxiety and cautiousness, more so than I anticipated when I started my underwater adventure.

As you move through this puzzle adventure game, you’ll uncover long forgotten mysteries. You’ll explore long forgotten ruins and temples with images depicting gods and having ornate architecture, and find ancient machinery hidden in the depths of the ocean. You’ll meet strange creatures who have evolved over time and even rescue other trapped divers. It’s hard to get into how the story and narrative unfold without spoiling anything so I’ll not divulge much in the way of the story here. Explore and enjoy the approximately 3 hour journey. I will say though, that a lot of the story is left up to the players interpretation. Depending on what you see while swimming around, your story as to what happened and will happen may be different than another’s perspective. I love games like that, ones that can keep you wondering and thinking about what you experienced.

Each new screen gives you a new puzzle to explore, you’ll turn nearby sea creatures into your puppets and use them to help you find your solutions. One issue I had with Silt was that often the puzzles were just too simple. Usually, you’ll grab the first creature you see and use them in the way that is obvious and right in front of you. As you move along, the puzzles do become more difficult, and some involve multiple steps and creatures, but I only ran into one real ‘head scratcher’, and that was the first multi step puzzle I came across. This was mostly because everything up to that point was so simple that I assumed it would continue that way. Once I realized there were additional steps, I was good to go.

I really wish the game had a better checkpoint system as well though. If you die, which I did frequently, your previous checkpoint was often far enough away that you had to do quite a few things to get back to where you were. This ultimately left me frustrated and took me out of the surreal dreamy nature that I felt when just existing in the game. A few more check points would help in this aspect for sure. Also, there is absolutely no HUD in the game. You have no idea if you’ve been in a particular zone or tunnel, if you’re swimming in circles, or what way you’re supposed to be going at time. It’s all so familiar and foreign at the same time. Although I understand this is part of the design and gives you the feeling of being confused and entirely alone in the ocean, it also was slightly irritating at times.

To allow you to fully take in the beauty of Silt’s art style, there is very little in the form of a soundtrack in the game. Your diver breathes loudly in their suit, but the only other real sounds are environmental. This was a spectacular choice to use minimal music. It really feels like you are underwater and free from a lot of the outside noise.

I’m not sure if it can be considered a moral dilemma, or because I usually play games using the good morality options, but I had many moments in Silt where I was conflicted about what the game was telling me I needed to do. Did I really need to take control of a small fish and have the whole school follow me into the carnivorous plants, killing them? Once I realized that was the only way for me to get passed this particular area, I had to accept that the game was making me complicit in its plot and I was not the good guy I really was hoping to be. I’m not sure if I liked knowing I could now be free to be evil, or if I was upset that it was forced upon me, but that’s another thing entirely. The implications of controlling and manipulating other living creatures to suit my own designs hit on something I’m not accustomed in a lot of games: guilt.

Although there were a few things that I think could make the game a much better experience, mostly more checkpoints for myself, the beautiful art style and surreal feeling while playing really make this a game I have no problem recommending for people to check out. It may not be a very long game but I enjoyed my time immensely. The ocean will always be mysterious, alluring and you never really know what may lie below. I hope we see more games like this in the future.

*Silt was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X*

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

Silt Review (Xbox One) - (10)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Last Updated: 12/12/2022

Views: 6653

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1997-03-23

Address: 74183 Thomas Course, Port Micheal, OK 55446-1529

Phone: +13408645881558

Job: Global Representative

Hobby: Sailing, Vehicle restoration, Rowing, Ghost hunting, Scrapbooking, Rugby, Board sports

Introduction: My name is Geoffrey Lueilwitz, I am a zealous, encouraging, sparkling, enchanting, graceful, faithful, nice person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.