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Silkbulb Test's demo is a fun quiz game as long as you ignore the noises and don't look behind you

Have a seat

A horrible gaping head in darkness with the much less horrible Wishlisted feature series mascot looking out of the righthand image corner
Image credit: oxblud / Rock Paper Shotgun

Silkbulb Test is a game in which, going by its demo, you are strapped to a chair and made to answer questions projected onto a screen. You answer the questions by looking ponderously down and pressing the big red and yellow buttons on the desk in front of you. The questions begin with relatively innocuous, CAPTCHA-style inquiries, such as "is this a door?" accompanied by a picture of a face. A few minutes later, there's stuff like "Are you alone?" and "Is it safe to be alone?" and "You are alone" and yep, time to smash Pause or better, throw the Steam Deck behind the sofa and go stare out the window for a while.

In the velvety darkness that surrounds the projection screen, you hear tinkly nursery music and other noises that are less tinkly and more squelchy or breathy and hey, it sounds like they're coming from behind you, and getting louder. "Hold shift to run" anytime now, Silkbulb Test. Hopefully, this is enough to catch your interest, because I couldn't bear to play much more of the demo (Steam link here). What a relief to discover that it "should be considered an introduction and early tutorial to the world and is not representative of the gameplay for the full game."

Hang on, the full game sounds worse. It's an asymmetrical co-op and single player horror "experience". Players are called upon to explore "a mysterious, uncanny, and sunken place" in which "the creatures, the environment, and your own body want you dead". Just like shopping at Budgens, then. To make progress you must "harvest the minds of the Sunken Ones" and perhaps work with other unseen test participants, for "Silkbulb Test is about being alone, together".

Your principle tool in navigating these perils appears to be a customisable "Safe-T-Face". It works like Alien's proximity detector, alerting you to threats in the dark. Except that unlike Alien's proximity detector, it's a bruised and hairless disembodied head that sometimes appears concussed and sometimes gurns at you like a Barbie doll from hell. That's the Safe-T-Face in the header image, I think. No, not Wishlisty, our purple mascot, the other one. Those teeth! Too white, too white. Time to disconnect from the wi-fi with a vengeance and go look out the window again.

Silkbulb Test is one of the most striking shortform horror games I've stumbled on lately and I can't wait to absolutely never play the full thing. Developer Tim Oxton is a DreadXP alumnus: his past credits include the very affordable, well-received and equally disturbing Flathead and Future Racer 2000, the latter of which is possibly the worst of the lot for looking like a harmless exhibition of retro aesthetics.

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