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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Aquatic Horror Game ‘Silt’ Captures the Enchanting Terror of the Deep [Preview]

Spiral Circus’ monochrome aquatic horror game shows great promise in our ‘Silt’ preview impressions.

I can’t remember the last game that enchanted me with its visual beauty whilst unnerving me with what it represented. Well, congratulations to developer Spiral Circus, because it has already achieved just that in a short demo for its upcoming aquatic horror game Silt.

I’m sure others can relate to this, but there’s something utterly terrifying about the deep dark gloom of the ocean. The very thought of being stuck, swimming in the middle of it is bad enough but worse if it was without the light of the sun, when the only illumination is perhaps a torch. The relative lack of control and speed of movement combined with the dark unknown of another world beneath the sea? No thank you. Yet at the same time, like all good horror, it’s a terrifying idea that fascinates me immensely.

Silt translates this to a two-dimensional format quite well. It immediately put me deep in that briny abyss as a diver, chained to the floor of an underwater cave. It’s a classic cold open setup. Held captive with no idea as to how or why you got here, and unsure how to get out of it. It pulls back the corner of its underlying mystery ever so slightly by making its first reveal. 

silt preview 00

I could possess a nearby fish. It’s a toothy-looking fella, sort of like a piranha, and it enforces that by being able to chomp through the chain on my foot and set me free. Signposted by the game or not, my first instinct is to swim upwards in hope of finding a way out.

Outside the chamber, Silt’s hand-drawn art style conjured up a haunting monochrome labyrinth of caves that have the unsettling appearance of undersea foliage, and humongous internal organs. Hammerhead sharks roamed the area, curious of my avatar if I drew near, but only attacking if I dared to get up close and personal. Possessing them allowed me to break sturdy barriers that prevented my progression, and off I swam through the gloom once more.

It then became clear that there was a reason for the scenery looking a little too…organic. The exit of this cave system was in fact, the large maw of some monstrous sea creature. Freedom of sorts had been achieved, but it really drives home how gargantuan the ocean depths are.

The best, most nerve-wracking section of the demo was still to come, however. Gaining access to a claustrophobic, dark tunnel, a glowing thing like an anemone drifted lazily at its entrance, and as I got closer, it began to move away, luring me into the pitch-black pocket. Obviously, I knew it wasn’t likely to lead to anything but another undersea abomination, but it was the only viable route out. The journey to that discovery ensured I wouldn’t be stalling.

As I chased down the glowing lure, it agitated striped eel-like creatures hiding in the rocky walls of the tunnel, as I passed them, they began to pursue. Before I knew it, I was rushing towards one fate whilst escaping another as several of these eels could just about be seen snapping at the diver’s flippers in the inky darkness behind. It’s the standout moment of the whole demo, and I’m eager to see if Spiral Circus can continue to tap into that special kind of dread throughout the full game.

Gaming’s Spookiest Ghost Ships

Through the other side of that nightmare tunnel, I came into a wider chamber, where the glowing beacon of doom drew closer to its source, and ultimately, revealed itself as the threat I’d assumed it to be. What followed was a strategic use of evasion to destroy the barriers preventing my escape from this new, hungry leviathan. The demo ends shortly after the conclusion of that encounter.

silt preview 01

Silt certainly has a lot of promise at this stage. The art style evokes the mood of Playdead’s Limbo and Inside, but manages to put its own, more visually detailed spin on that. It’s pulling off undersea dread on a 2D plane, which is no mean feat, and it’s already offering up an enticing amount of ambiguity that leads to driving questions about where the journey will take our diver.

Silt preview demo played on PC.

Silt is available on all platforms later in 2022. Demo is available now on PC.

The post Aquatic Horror Game ‘Silt’ Captures the Enchanting Terror of the Deep [Preview] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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