Sylvio is a psychological horror game by Stroboskop which takes you on a creepy adventure through a disturbingly tranquil world of tension and frights. You take on the role of Juliette Waters, a ghost recorder who, accompanied by her “Electronic Voice Phenomenon” (EVP) microphone, faces an evil curse and a wicked family cult with nothing but the help of a DIY nail gun (or spuds if you fancy) and the spooky voices of the dead.
The game begins in a serene forest as a white light glows centre stage and Juliette introduces herself and her mission; she wants to find out why the ghosts choose to linger in-between worlds … or is something holding them back? From the starting line, this game is beautifully terrifying in the gentlest way possible. It’s not your standard horror game with monsters clawing at you as you beat off rabid animals or zombies – and as much as I do love those types of games, Sylvio does it in a much quieter fashion. Even the haunting, almost whispered words of the protagonist leave you with the shivers.
Getting stuck into this first person adventure begins as you trespass into an old abandoned family park, which shut down in 1971 due to a landslide, killing a lot of people and leaving behind their spirits for you to hunt down. Oooooooh!! (yeah, that’s a ghost sound, obviously) Don’t worry though, not all of them are nasty – just some, and these ones will manifest as dark, shapeless shadows which will slowly float towards you… True, doesn’t sound too scary, but when the screen starts flickering and your EVP recorder fizzes and hisses at you, the frantic spinning around to spot the spirits appearing through the walls can really get your heart racing. Again, it’s not the ghosts that are the most haunting part of this game; it’s the tension that is terrifying.
I kept an open mind when starting this game but really didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to be the “Most Haunted” version of Resident Evil without Yvette Fielding or a complete let down to the horror franchise? Luckily, it was neither! If I had to relate it to any other game as a reference point, I’d say it was most like Silent Hill’s shy, younger sister who sits in the corner of the room and stares at you from the shadows. She’s very quiet, but you know she’s thinking of ways to murder her Barbie doll.
I have actually fallen in love with this game for its ability to be so scary whilst maintaining its persona of an anti-screamer. It’s visually very satisfying. It’s not got the realistic graphics of most brand new PS4 titles released these days, but personally I find that adds to the atmosphere of the game. The soundtrack is pretty bare, again adding to the feel of the adventure with the sound of footsteps, heavy breathing and of course the demonic sounds from the EVP Recorder.
One great aspect of this game is the spirits’ voices which help you solve puzzles and find important items. After firing nails into the “evil” spirits, their voices are recorded through your microphone in a mumble of hellish noises and echoes of the forgotten. Juliette then pulls out a note pad and a rather large reel-to-reel tape player (she definitely has some Mary Poppins magic in her bag) and you have to play around with the recording (playing the audio fast/slow/in reverse) to catch hidden words the spirits have spoken. These words will then label markers on the map which reveal the items needed to move onto the next level.
Another fun factor of the game is the driving, and I admit I did go a bit rogue once I got into the park with my car and thought I was playing GTA for a while – racing around the trees and trying to crash through abandoned buildings (sorry, not sorry)
If you’re looking for something to occupy you for a few nights (approximate playing time 10-15 hours) then I would definitely recommend taking a journey into Juliette Waters’ world and helping her on her quest to solve why the spirits aren’t passing into the afterlife. It’s doesn’t throw frights at you like most other games in the horror genre because it knows the scares are in the silence, and it excels with it.
Karl Rating 8/10
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