There be monsters in the deep!
The new indie game Silt plunges gamers into a captivating black-and-white world swirling with underwater puzzles and sharp-edged dangers.
Gamers play as an undefined person in a diving suit who awakens chained to the ocean floor. But our diver has also developed the ability to project his or her essence, or soul, through a smoky wisp into other aquatic creatures that are swimming about those murky depths. And once a gobble-focused fish breaks their bonds, it’s time to set off on a preassigned quest.
The game tells you there are goliaths in the ocean. Your job? Hunt them down, remove their eyes, For this is where their power lies. But before you can start that hunt, there are scores of puzzling barriers to overcome.
Every sea creature you possess—ranging from hammerhead sharks to stingrays, crabs, piranhas, electric eels and schools of swarming fish—has a special ability to help you move forward. Some can break brittle shoals or nibble through chains and wires. Others can electrify dead generators or explode to scare away larger predators. Each creature serves its purpose. And as you experiment with their abilities, they help you solve the puzzling traps around you.
The diver has no offensive weapons other than the soul-transferring ability, however. So finding a way to best the four goliaths is something of a puzzle, too. The end goal is to use the drained goliaths’ power to restart a mysterious underwater machine that delivers an unexpected result.
There are four different areas that gamers must work through, each with its own puzzling challenges, deadly deep-sea traps and unique big-boss goliath to beat. The areas require several hours each to solve. And the worlds design, fantastic beasties and monochromatic art style all create a captivating and distinctive atmosphere.
The art style and musical score are both equally appealing and tense. And the puzzles force you to think through the situation at hand and the (sometimes many) steps required to prevail—giving gamers a rewarding challenge.
This game does not hold your hand. So younger gamers may find themselves at a loss for what to do. Repetition and creative experimentation are the key here, which can also leave younger players frustrated.
In addition, the silhouetted predators, with very sharp-looking fangs and razor spikes, can spring out at any moment, which could be frightening for young or sensitive gamers.
When fish or the diver are injured or eaten a black spurt of blood floats up in the surrounding water. (If the diver is eaten, the screen fades to black and the challenge begins anew.)
The “soul transfer” between the diver and other creatures, while seemingly spiritual, is never explored or explained. It’s simply left as a strange narrative aspect of the fantasy gameplay. That said, the whole drained energy and undersea ruins element of play does carry a dark ritualistic vibe about it.
Silt is one of those puzzle-filled games that makes you go Oooh, even if it’s just because of the creative and eye-pleasing artistic style. But this game’s deep does have its dangers and its own creepy vibes as well.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.