Quietly creepy ghost-recording sequel Sylvio 2 is out

sylvio2

Sylvio is one of my favourite recent horror games. I described it as an “anti-screamer” because it’ll unnerve you with a whisper rather than startling you with a jumpscare. Most of the creepiness comes from listening to recordings of ghosts, playing tracks at various speeds and/or reversing them to hear the voices in the static. It also had bits where you shot giant shadowy figures and blobs. The sequel [official site], which came out yesterday, ditches the shooting and adds video recordings alongside the audio tapes. I’ve had a quick look and listen.

It’s very confusing. Sylvio had a tendency toward the vague, asking players to stitch the threads of its various plots together rather than handing over all the details. Ghosts, it turns out, aren’t the best communicators even when you stick a microphone under their non-existent noses.

Sylvio 2’s various plots are even more mysterious. The game picks up almost immediately after the first one ends, but lead character Juliette is as calm and collected as ever. Trapped underground in an apartment that is thick with phantoms, she sets up cameras and microphones and tries to understand how they died, and what secrets they took to their graves. Because you’re only ever dealing with fragments of conversation, and sometimes single words plucked from static, the relationships between the people in the apartment aren’t entirely clear.

But you don’t need to understand to progress because Sylvio 2 guides you with objective markers. Whenever you find a clue, an arrow marks it on the recording, and then a white dot appears in the world. Walk to that and you’ll find the next recording. Sometimes you’ll see a marker but won’t have the name or question you need to trigger the next encounter, particularly in the case of video recordings which begin with Juliette calling out to a ghost in a particular area.

With the shooting gone and the video sections little more than a carbon copy of the audio scrubbing with an added visual loop, Sylvio 2 feels sparse. In some ways, it’s closer to a theme park haunted house than before, with each of the small stories (which seems self-contained but may tie into the wider narrative) involving little more than following the cues from one place to the next and then hearing/seeing what horrors are in store. Shooting the ghosts always felt inappropriate and I’m glad that I can just listen to them now without any of that silliness, but Sylvio 2 already feels like a much sparser game.

That may well work in its favour and I’ll certainly play the rest sometime over the weekend or early next week to find out for sure.

Sylvio 2 is available for Windows via Steam at £9.34/€12.74/$12.74, which includes a small launch discount.

8 Comments

  1. ramshackabooba says:

    I’ve played lots of horror games, and none scare me nearly as much as the old Fatal Frame games. For some reason things like aliens or zombies don’t scare me at all, but show me a ghost and I’ll throw myself under the blanket sucking my thumb.

    • tnzk says:

      I can deal with ghosts. Haven’t seen an apparition, but I lived in a haunted house for about three years. Whenever something went bump in the night, or whenever you felt somebody was watching you when you’re all alone in the bed, it never stopped being unnerving, but I got used to it, like it was some sort of supernatural version of Stockholm Syndrome.

      But I can’t deal with aliens, particularly grey aliens. Give me a gigantic horned demon, lizard monster, big foot, or spider-walking ghost girl, but all I need to see is a midget grey alien standing in the distance doing nowt but looking at me, and I’m running in the other direction (oh yeah, that bit in South Park displeased me greatly).

      They need to make an alien abduction horror game. Imagine a game when you’re in a small house being chased by silent little fuckers who want nonchalantly want to take you away.

      • pendergraft says:

        Little midget aliens don’t scare me none. Kick their heads right off! Without those, they’re powerless. Now, thickly-built, wrinkly old dwarfs in raincoats, with necks what say Dunlop on them, armed with fillet knives, skittering about in the dark. That’s terrifying.

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          duns4t says:

          In my neck of the world dwarves and raincoats are highly regulated so that edge is gone. But the notion that an angry, instrument-wielding skeleton may be watching me from behind keeps me up at nights.

        • Kefren says:

          I can’t tell if that’s “Don’t Look Now” or “Phantasm”. :-)

      • Kefren says:

        Best not read my last book then. It’s about 83% of your fear. :-) link to books.pronoun.com

        (That was referring to tnzk’s comment about the house invasion.)

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    G-Lord says:

    Glad to see this covered by Adam, the person who got me to play the first game. Really liked the atmosphere while testing the second, I look forward to dive back into it.

  3. malkav11 says:

    I tried Sylvio on your recommendation but I found it mostly tedious. Very very slow walking and then a forced chase or something with no clear objective and no checkpointing. I never made it to the EVP stuff.

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