This is why I stay away from the ocean, look what lives down there
Hi, kids! I'm here to tell you that monsters are real! But they're not in your closet or under your bed. No child, they're in the ocean. Deep, deep down in the ocean, and while its portrayal is obviously exaggerated, this is the general premise behind the tone and setting of SILT. A puzzle game built upon the atmosphere and crushing pressure of the bottom of the sea, it is most comparable to a game like LIMBO but set underwater. So how does it feel to interact with the horrors of the deep in SILT? And just how creepy can it get?
You play as a being, possibly human, in a diving suit who has the ability to possess certain other sea creatures around them by extending a tendril of light from their face. Alone, this diver does not have many abilities outside of possession and swimming, which is where taking control of the animals around them becomes vital for puzzle solving. Every creature has their own ability, whether it be piranha-like fish who can bite through wires that block your way or electric eels that can power on generators. Not every ability is a winner, such as crabs who can do a very floaty high jump, but each one serves its specific purpose very well and contributes to some very clever puzzle design throughout.
The goal of SILT is to "find the four goliaths and take their eyes, for that is where their power lies." This formats the game into four areas that can be completed in around 3-4 hours. Each area has its own puzzle mechanic involving a creature you're able to possess, and each one ends in an encounter with one of the four "goliaths" previously mentioned, pseudo-bosses that incorporate the area's puzzle type in a challenging manner. The designs for these monsters are fantastic, managing to be both sufficiently scary and visually distinct in SILT's monochrome art style. While that art style in general is memorable and effective towards building the atmosphere SILT is looking for, it does sometimes make it difficult to visually communicate certain puzzle elements, most notably a handful of breakable walls. This is not a constant, however, as more often than not I could tell what things were supposed to be, but it is an issue I encountered occasionally.
While SILT’s overall slow pace is generally fitting for the nature of the game, it does have certain points where its pacing is a detriment. Occasionally, you will encounter a longer puzzle sequence that requires multiple steps of setup or action, usually involving creatures that will kill you instantly upon making a mistake. This will always send you to the beginning of the room where you will have to start the entire process over again, and especially in later areas this can become incredibly frustrating very quickly. This repetition coupled with the overall slow movement speed of the diver really drags the experience down when you reach one of these rooms, but these situations are thankfully few and far between. For the most part, each puzzle is relatively small in scale, allowing a focus on successfully getting to the “ah ha!” moment as opposed to the long slog from point A to point B.
Overall SILT is an interesting experience in atmospheric puzzle gaming. The underwater sound design muffling everything around you manages to immerse you into the sea bottom world as you solve the well designed puzzles throughout. There are a few areas near the very end of the game that get frustrating, but I could count the number of rooms like that on one hand. If you like something creepy, something that gets the gears in your brain turning, or for some reason just like the scary part of the ocean, you should definitely slap on a diving suit and jump headfirst into SILT.