Few games invent the entire genre but 2010’s Limbo can make a fair claim of ownership of a space marked “2D Gothic Chiller”.
The creators of ilt – Bristol-based developer Spiral Circus – certainly spent many hours mulling over the monochromatic gloom of Limbo on this underwater creepy theme. Featuring a diver exploring a surreal and dangerous sunken world, Sylt ticks all the usual boxes – wordless exposition that leaves your imagination with plenty of blanks to fill in, a black and white aesthetic and all. Strange creatures of shapes are just waiting to stab or crush you.
The big twist here is that the diver can temporarily inhabit the bodies of nearby fish and use them to solve the puzzle. So, for example, a piranha is useful for cutting ropes, the head of a hammer can break down obstacles with a headbutt, and an electric eel can power machinery. Sometimes you need to switch between multiple fish as you cross chaotic corridors, yawning chasms and gated caves.
The silt is an unintended attempt at storytelling, in which the diver cannot exceed the occasional speed and except on one or two occasions requires little in the way of rapid reactions. But after establishing its uncontrollable vibe with moody visuals, Sylt leans a little too far into its opaque narrative. The locations often look impressive, but give little meaning to how they are connected to the wider plot.
At only €15 or so on most download stores, you won’t be surprised that Silt can easily release its secrets in a matter of hours, little reason to play again. It can’t match the sheer brilliance of Limbo, but it has a striking charm with a bit of depth of its own.