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.