SILT PC Review

Finicky fish LIMBO.

By LCLupus, Posted 07 Jun 2022

SILT is the debut title from Spiral Circus Games, and for a first game, it shows a lot of promise for what Spiral Circus Games will be able to create in the future. But, despite this being a promising first game, it isn’t one that can be recommended easily. However, sometimes a game comes along that is so utterly gorgeous in visual presentation that you simply have to sit up and take notice. It doesn’t happen very often, but SILT is one of those games. It has a gorgeous black-and-white, silhouette-style visual presentation reminiscent of something like LIMBO but with an even higher degree of detail. Although LIMBO is over ten years old at the time of writing, and so maybe that’s a little unfair a comparison. But even though SILT is truly beautiful, it is a little too simplistic and finicky.
 

SILT, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Monster Fish, Boss Fights
 

Now, what exactly is SILT? It is, at its core, a diving puzzle game. You are a little diver, buddy, and you get the supreme pleasure of swimming around an awful world filled with things that want to kill you, but what kind of a dark, LIMBOesque game would it be if it wasn’t filled with horrifying beasts that want to murder you, right?

As this diver character, you need to make your way through a variety of “rooms” or “screens”, or whatever you want to call them, in which you are tasked with getting through some puzzle. Here’s where SILT may disappoint those who wished for more complex puzzle-based mechanics, as you’d find in something like LIMBO. But before we can explain why the puzzles are rather barebones and overly simplistic, you have to know about “possession”.

As the little diver, you can release a tendril of strange energy that allows you to possess a variety of fish. These fish each have their special abilities. For instance, there are some that can butt things and break walls, others can bite through rope, and others can serve as chum for bigger fish. The puzzles are all centered around this premise. You need to possess fish to make your way past.
 

SILT, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Monster Fish, Boss Fights
 

However, this is where SILT shows its weakness. The puzzles are generally too basic. You enter a room/screen and see a fish next to you. Well, guess what? That’s the fish that will allow you to beat this puzzle! Look, a swordfish one. The swordfish can swim quickly, so it can get through these venus fly trap-looking snapping plants that your diver is too slow to evade. And that swordfish can help you get to and possess the school of little fish you need to poison and then feed to those snapping plants. Then the diver can go through because he’ll have now killed all those plants with the poisoned fish.

This is one example of how simplistic it is. There is one way to go. One fish in front of you. You cannot bring any fish across screens. Therefore, the puzzle solution in SILT is always the fish that’s right next to you. So, it’s less a puzzle game and more a “you have to go this way, and there is only one possible solution” kind of game. This is, however, not necessarily a bad thing if you do not particularly enjoy puzzle games. If you are someone like that, then the game is more about going on a journey with gorgeous visuals that you sometimes do something in rather than a challenging puzzle experience. But if you want good puzzles, this will likely immediately turn you off. SILT will not challenge you in the puzzle department.
 

SILT, PC, ReviewSILT, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Puzzles
 

In fact, here’s where my statement that this weaker puzzle focus may be suitable for someone who dislikes puzzle games somewhat falls apart because while the puzzles are simplistic, they can also often test your patience or suddenly fall into the realm of immensely finicky controls. For instance, there was one puzzle early on that gives you a swordfish to get through some of those snapping plants mentioned before. When you see this, you immediately think: “ah, at the end of this row of snapping plants, there will be a school of fish I can possess, cover them in poison, and then use them to kill the snapping plants; like before.” Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong.

Nope. SILT does not offer alternate paths. You have to take that single swordfish. Swim him through. Get some poison on him. Let one plant eat him and die. Rinse and repeat. Now, this may seem like the same thing. But nope. Using the school of fish for this purpose means that you only have to do this once. Each time a snapping plant bites, it kills one of the fish. You have over ten in your school of small fish. So, you can quickly kill every snapping plant. But with the swordfish, you only possess one at a time. This means performing the same procedure repeatedly until you’ve made the path clear, which is very annoying.
 

SILT, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Underwater Diving, Cave
 

This isn’t even getting into the fact that SILT is finicky at times. It will usually be about slow, careful decision making. Even the bosses are essentially elaborate puzzles. But sometimes, you’ll suddenly have to go fast, and if you mess up and hit one of the spike-covered walls, you will have to start all over again. This means that SILT effectively fluctuates between overly simplistic puzzles and irritatingly pedantic reflex segments seemingly at random.

Furthermore, for those who want something with a narrative of some kind, you’re not getting it. This is not necessarily a bad thing either, as you could be in it for the puzzles if you do enjoy them, or you could be in it for the gorgeous visual journey it brings you on, but do not expect a plot. You’re a diver who can possess fish. That is all you need to know! Do not ask for more! You shall not receive, puny human gamer!
 

SILT, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Monster Fish, Boss Fights
 

This doesn’t even take into account the technical issues found in SILT. The camera is often atrocious and wanders off in some random direction while you’re trying to do a puzzle, and so you center the camera back on your diver buddy, but then the camera drifts again. It has a mind of its own. Sometimes triggers also do not activate properly. For instance, you might swim in front of a giant door. Then nothing happens. You swim to one side. Then the other. And then, after swimming back and forth a few times, the trigger finally activates, and the door opens. It doesn’t always project things like this well. Another example is when you find a giant ornate rock carving, swim around, try to orientate yourself, and eventually touch and hold the possession button of all things. This causes your character to get into a special position to trigger the cutscene. It never tells you to do this; you just have to know.
 


 

But despite all of this criticism, the visual presentation, moody atmosphere, and interesting, if underutilized, possession mechanic makes SILT quite the experience that can be recommended with some strong caveats attached. But those gorgeous visuals may not be enough to carry this game, and it is only a handful of hours long and has no real replay value. Ultimately it’s probably best to finally say that it would be worth it on sale if you’re looking for a short, interesting little thing to tide you over until something bigger comes along. 


Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

SILT

60/100

Platform(s): Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Sold-Out Software, Fireshine Games
Developer(s): Spiral Circus Limited, Spiral Circus Games
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Horror
Release Date: 2022-06-01

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