Silt is an interesting puzzle-solving game where you play as a mysterious diver trying to make sense of the underwater world around him.
I was provided with a free digital code of Silt for review on the Nintendo Switch. The opinions I have shared are my own.
Have you ever looked at the ocean in all its vastness and contemplated the unimaginable depth that we may never be able to fully explore? Does that sudden thought fill you with eeriness or even a cold chill of fear? Well, my friends, I’m here to not only bring you a very unique title that premiered in the latest Nintendo Indie Direct, but I’m also here to tell you that you may have Thalassophobia, in which case you should probably work on that.
Created by Spiral Circus Games and Published by Fireshine Games, Silt is described as a “surreal underwater puzzle-adventure game”. The art is exclusively in black and white. A fusion of so many different ideas creates this bizarre, strangely therapeutic but also unsettling feeling of the deep.
As I played through the game I felt taken aback and faintly uncomfortable by the meticulous soundscape that purveys over the game, hearing the pressure of water and various bubbling and occasional oxygen-breathing gave a feeling of suffocation. But on the flip side, it provided a sort of quiet, like an underwater diver’s ASMR dream.
You play as an almost silhouetted diver freed from their deep underwater prison of chains. Within their oxygen tank helmet is the power to send their consciousness to the twisted and strange aquatic animals who have unique abilities to help traverse the different spaces this vast deep holds.
As you swim across sickeningly narrow spelunking-style pathways, the light from your helmet illuminates a strange dead world of thorns, anemones, poison gas plants, vicious piranha plants, strange parasitic worms, electric eels, and a vast Goliath angler fish ready to tear you to pieces.
Silt has this ancient Cthulhu aesthetic to it, accompanied by strange animal beings of divine power and a bit of the rabbit hole vibe from Alice in Wonderland as there are moments of darkness and slowly falling debris as you dive deeper and deeper into the depths of this empty and graveyard-like underwater wasteland. The sound and visuals do such a great job of evoking these feelings. The creators had a vision and lovingly put their hearts into it, and it shows.
Gameplay-wise, I found the puzzles to be very basic at the beginning. Use a piranha fish to bite chains and ropes. Use a heavy-headed fish to ram into breakable rubble to clear the way. And so on. But as you explore further, the puzzles do become more diverse. For example, you need to possess a school of fish, luring them to poisonous gas so that they become a swimming cloud of poison to kill the piranha plants that would surely destroy our mysterious diver.
There’s definitely a bit of a challenge presented. As the game went on, I swiftly discovered that there were times when I didn’t know what to do. The game does not hold your hand when discovering new species of aquatic animals that have abilities that seem almost pointless, only for you to discover that they fit a niche kind of puzzle-solving strategy.
It did feel a bit frustrating having a couple of spaces in the game that had me swimming aimlessly trying to figure out what to do? I found myself swimming in circles wondering, “No, this room has something to do, but I just can’t figure it out!”
And the game remains silent. Waiting for you to figure it out without offering any kind of help.
From a narrative standpoint of the diver, it makes sense. But from a gamer’s perspective, I would’ve liked something that could offer help. Perhaps some kind of diary or underwater journal that explains different creatures you can control and hints at their skill uses?
However, don’t let my opinion on the game’s puzzle-solving mechanic deter you from playing Silt. This title didn’t have much in the way of strategy or elaborate puzzles. Everything is very minimal and straightforward. However, that didn’t help me, as I tend to overthink and miss the very easy solution.
Despite this, the exploring and almost eldritch magical elements were really cool. To see my diver join their consciousness to old ruins and witness a series of shapes and geometry and rune-like magic encircle them as they almost became one with the power of the deep was a powerful and beautiful thing to see.
I have to talk about the Tim Burton-esque hand-drawn art with lots of curls and spirals and that almost sketchy feel to it that lends itself to a scratchy texture and the nods to Limbo in regards to the silent and mysterious main character exploring a vast dangerous and living world. So very cool to see so much honor paid to titles before while still keeping Silt different.
So, do you have what it takes to figure out the mysteries of the deep? Are you a puzzle enthusiast interested in a sunken city? Or are you a fan of Tim Burton, Limbo, and anthropomorphic animal deities? Maybe you enjoy robbing fictional creatures of their free will as you command them to do your bidding? Are you into ocean ASMR?
If any of these things appeal to you, I’m sure you’ll like Silt.
Released on June 1, 2022, Silt is currently available on PC (Steam, GOG, EGS), PS5/4, XBS X/S, One, and the Nintendo Switch.
You can gain more information by following the game on Twitter @SiltGame.
Author: Micah Carrillo
Micah is studying English and Digital Design. His love of geek culture spans across diverse mediums and genres. Comics, anime, films, you name it! He enjoys video games on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox.
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