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Sylvio

Sylvio is a psychological horror game set in a tranquil, disturbing atmosphere. Ghost recorder Juliette Waters trespasses into an abandoned family park, shut down since a landslide in 1971. The voices of the deceased captured on her reel-to-reel recorder reveals a tale of an evil curse and a wicked family cult, currently living in the park. First-person horror with a multi-layered story. 10 - 15 hours gameplay. Open world exploration by foot or car. Conduct seances, search for voices in the static, and analyze your recordings with a unique audio gameplay mechanic.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Yes, "Sylvio" is a first-person indie horror game made in Unity. From that description alone, it would seem doomed for genericity - but this is perhaps the most innovative, unique horror title of 2015.
The first chapter does a great job of familiarizing you with the game's quirkiness. You're granted a blunderbuss that shoots potatoes. You fight against almost laughably unintimidating spheres of moving black mass. The protagonist voices her lines emotionlessly, almost inaudibly. You may be tempted to write off the game right then and there, and unfortunately, many do.
Sylvio's debilitatingly bizarre presentation obscures an incredibly impressive gameplay mechanic that serves as the core of all the spine-chilling, goosebumps-giving, jaw-dropping moments in the game: the EVP audio equipment and its accompanying sound design. The true star of this game. (Sorry, Juliette!)
Using the audio equipment, you will be inspecting every corner of the map for ghostly sounds that you can record and subsequently play back and hunt for clues. Through backmasking, rewinding, fast-forwarding and slowing down the audio, you'll hear all sorts of voices from the beyond. Some are helpful, some are not, and some are even... hostile.
I finished the game in roughly 10 hours, though you can complete it in a solid 8 if you're not interested in finding the many collectibles that shed more light on the stories you encounter. To be honest, the game overstays its welcome a bit towards the end, and drags a little in some parts. Fortunately, the synth-laden soundtrack and static-ridden locations in the game provide just enough of a dynamic feel to make it a worthwhile journey.
As a closing remark, the main complaints I have heard are about the voice of the protagonist, Juliette. It's a divisive voice that may make or break your experience with the game - but she doesn't speak much except for during seances, so I can't say I identify with the chagrin.
Overall, I hold "Sylvio" as the most underrated horror title of the year, and recommend it if you're looking for something new out of the horror genre.

Review from Steam

For a game made by, basically, one guy, it's a huge achievement. Sylvio creates a very subtle, bizarre and uneasy atmosfere, and although I had trouble to understand the main plot, the surrounding stories about the people who died on the Saginaw Park are sinister and uncanny, such as the experience of interviewing ghosts and manipulating the audio to "translate" their speech. It's such an unique and intense experience that, the fact that Sylvio is not a very well polished game isn't really so important. Not going to forget this one very soon.

Review from Steam

I’ve pressed play to hear what the EVP caught in the wind. Among the static, a broken women’s voice can be heard. She speaks in slow and melancholic tone “I didn’t want to… Daddy… They put me to sleep… I’m not alo…” Her voice turns to short scream. I’ve stopped the recording and played it backwards, at half the playback speed. At first there was nothing except distortion but a faint sound can be heard. It’s a horrid imitation of human speech, with no discernable accent or phonetic pattern. Its words now etched into my mind: SHE IS HERE WITH ME.”
In the late seventies, something terrible has happened in the Saginaw Park. Since then, no living creature, except for the crows, can live there. You play as Juliette Waters, a professional Ghost Whisperer, as she travels into the park to put her skills to the ultimate test.
Sylvio is a first-person survival horror game inspired by Silent Hill games and Twin Peaks in the best possible way. Its unique story premise, creepy atmosphere, and bone-chilling ghost recording gameplay left me in awe and hooked till the end. Considering it’s made by one person, this amazing horror indie game is very rough in its execution.
You‘ll spend 70% of the time investigating and solving puzzles, and 30% shooting and defending yourself. There are 13 chapters/levels in the game and you’ll need between 8-12 hours to complete the game. You start each level by using the Electronic Voice Phenomenon recorder to capture the messages from ghost residues or trapped apparitions. Since ghosts exist in a realm where time flows differently, you’ll manipulate the playback speed and direction to uncover what they have to say.
Some of these ghosts will part with their secrets peacefully, while you’ll have to “reason” with others before communicating by using your compressor shotgun. As much as the investigation and sound manipulation segment of the game excels, the combat is quite floaty and imprecise, barely getting a passing grade.
The biggest problem with this game is sheer obscurity on what to do next. Puzzles in the first few levels are straightforward and logical. As I reached the second part of the game, I was often stumped on how to proceed, as puzzles can reach the infamous “moon logic” levels of difficulty. When you uncover how to proceed, you’ll scratch your head thinking how that puzzle made any sense.
Controls are also obscure, with too many keyboard input requirements for something simple. There is a guide in the main menu that I recommend you to read first. Even after this, I didn’t realize how to change and use objects in my inventory until near the end of the game. Your gun, for example, uses two types of ammo: solid, blunt objects to solve puzzles, and sharp and deadly ones to fight the ghosts.
On top of this, you’ll notice a small compressor meter on the gun that loses its power every time you shoot. You’ll have to pick up compressed pesticide canisters to refill your weapon’s range and power. And all of this could’ve been simplified or better explained in the game, but it’s not.
Regardless, the outstanding sound and music immersed me completely and sealed the deal for me. Talking to ghosts got me unnerved every time. Juliette sounds like a curious and fearless kid, and yet very fragile and afraid adult at the same time. The voice cast in general is superb.
The graphics are okay, but the art direction is amazing. Decrepit and mist-filled park locations felt eerie, packed with tension, unwelcoming and alien. Lastly, the unfolding story never disrespected my intelligence and chewed plot points for me. You’ll uncover some answers, but you’ll have to use your brain to get the full picture.
Among throngs of cheap jumpscare games out there, Sylvio has masterfully done the rising dread and uncertainty. If you can go past through rough design and no hand holding, this game will leave a lasting mark, just like a well told short horror story does.
The young man’s voice has changed to a rhythmic thumping sound as if it’s trying to tear the fabric of the universe apart, “…the blood of the mist inside my skin.” Only the screams of others could be heard in the background.

Review from Steam

This game is unlike any other first person horror game I've ever played. It has so much intrigue and atmosphere, that you want to keep playing and finding clues and recordings. The voice acting is very well done, and in my opinion really adds to the game. Graphically speaking, it is not the best looking game out there, but the gameplay and the attention to the audio and recording device is really what drives the narrative of this game.
The audio recorder and its place in the game are really well done. When you come across a recording with your mic out, the machine will automatically record it for you. You then can play it back and analyse it to your hearts content. Hear something strange? Play it backwards....still doesn't sound quite right play it backwards at super-slow speed. The recording device Is really the star of this game and you can tell alot of work and effort has gone into perfecting it.
I really recommend this one if you are into horror/mystery type games, there have been a few jumpscares but nothing that scary so far. I also feel like I should mention the soundtrack, as it is reminiscent of old John Carpenter films like "The Thing", very synth heavy and really adds to the game. I honestly hope it is added as DLC, I would like to buy it as well.

Review from Steam

Lightning in a bottle. They built an adventure game around a very clever game mechanic of playing tape at different speeds. This brought back childhood memories of trying to record ghost sounds with a Fisher Price tape recorder. Had I been able to do playback modulation, then I am sure it would have looked just like this gameplay.
Hunted for ghosts on an ubuntu linux computer system, with radeon mesa graphic drivers. This game uses the Unity game engine, and it works through the Steam Play compatibility libraries. I had to use the PROTON_USE_WINED3D launch option to get it to run. There were some technical rough spots with later level design, puzzles in the last levels were a bit poor, but overall a solid recommendation even at full price.

Review from Steam

Straight up, let's just say that the graphics of this game aren't much shakes. It's a good thing, then, that the makers of Sylvio understand the importance of SOUND in a horror game. In fact, with the exception of the trifling fact that they forgot to include the noise of your character's own FOOTSTEPS, they've pretty much based their entire game around it. That's the good news.
But before we get too far into the positive stuff, let's just concentrate on some early negative impressions. Along with the whole "silent footsteps" thing, you'd be forgiven for thinking that your character possesses full-blown powers of LEVITATION, as she seems to almost "float" above the ground rather than travel about on terra firma like the rest of us. She furthermore doesn't need her hands to hold flashlights and other objects in front of her.
Now, I know that such - let us say somewhat "abstracted" - interactive mechanics have hardly been uncommon since Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but when it's coupled with virtually nothing else which seems to "ground" your character in the real world...well, she almost might as well be one of the ghosts that she's chasing. She also seems able to jump or fall down enormous distances without, say, breaking both her legs like any of us regular mortals would.

Luckily for the game, though, it soon becomes interesting and unusual enough that I mostly - MOSTLY - managed to get past these reservations, at least until I quit the game altogether about four hours in. One way or another, there's certainly no denying that for all its ambition and relative innovation, it could have used quite a bit more polish before being unleashed on an unsuspecting public (especially at that price).

Another thing which made it a tad hard for me to get into - something which all you staunchly anti-"handholding" people are gonna chalk up as a pro, so what would I know? - is that it takes a while to get the gist of what exactly it is that the game wants you to "do". I mean, there's a lot of things in this game which are hardly intuitive: Not the controls (un-remappable; C for flashlight?), not the story ("I'm just sorta, kinda, gonna go in this big spooky park place and, I dunno, maybe talk to some ghosts, I guess"), and not the part where you use your microphone and tape player to decipher words or short phrases which the dead offer up to you, then get on-screen "distance metres" to tell you where you're supposed to go next as your "reward" for the information uncovered in the messages.
A few of the puzzles are admittedly quite clever, so there's definitely some good ideas here, and the actual "tape-decoding" bits are suitably spooky and novel in execution...helped in no small part by the fact that the ghostly voices are, to begin with, Euros speaking in what is clearly not their first language - i.e. English - so by the time that you slow down and speed up the voices, or play them in reverse, they ARE quite genuinely eerie-sounding!

Oh, and speaking of which, the voice acting is on the whole fairly decent - not great, but decent - and fuck it, the GAME on the whole is pretty decent, if by no means perfect or astonishing. There's still a few other reservations that I have - some part of me isn't entirely sure that they shouldn't have passed on the infrequent and borderline-pointless "combat" elements of the game, for example, and just opted for an out-and-out "walking simulator" - but in the end, it was the extreme repetition and overall TEDIUM of the gaming experience which did in the patience of this particular player. I mean, I like a moody, snail-like pace as much as the next guy, but this game takes such "tasteful aesthetics" to new and frankly trying extremes.

I'm actually looking forward to the announced sequel to this game, because I think they got quite a lot "right" this time out, but also quite a bit "wrong". Undeniably interesting devs, in any case. I'm not gonna go so far as to say they've done something truly "original" here - I've already gotten in trouble for such bold claims in Steam reviews of late - but yes, definitely "different", and definitely worth a look to anyone who considers themselves genuinely interested in the numerous possibilities which the horror genre currently presents to game designers (maybe best to wait for a significant sale, though, just to be on the safe side).

Verdict: 7.5/10.

Review from Steam

An amazing and unusual horror game. Its main focus is not to throw a bunch of monsters at you (though it does sometimes), but focuses rather on a scary and mysterious atmosphere with a gripping story combined with challenging and interesting puzzles. It also runs quite smoothly on my three year old pc. Im playing with an xbox 360 controller and it works perfectly. I highly recommend this game!!