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Sylvio Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Sylvio is an occasionally effective horror game with a really cool conceit. I love the idea of recording and decoding conversations from the spirit world and the abandoned amusement park can be genuinely spooky. Unfortunately, all this becomes less compelling with each repetition, taking players on an overlong adventure that isn't especially original. Juliette Waters deserves a better horror game. Rating: 57%
Sylvio
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
Ghosts are a demanding lot. They're always trying to get you to solve their murder or say goodbye to a loved one, never even once considering that you're just a regular person with a job and responsibilities. But the young woman at the center of Sylvio doesn't mind; she's a ghost hunter who's just excited to be part of the conversation. Little does she know that her curiosity is about to take her on the adventure of a lifetime, as well as uncover a few secrets that may have been better left buried.

You play Juliette Waters, an audio recordist with a penchant for the supernatural. She's eager to get some use out of her brand new equipment, so the ghost hunter decides to see if she can record some otherworldly voices in an old abandoned amusement park. We're told that a big storm destroyed the entire area and killed more than a dozen people, and one look at the aftermath is all you need to see why they didn't rebuild.


Things get off to an auspicious start when Juliette falls through the unstable ground and into a perfectly preserved waiting room. She's immediately intrigued by the mystery and surprised when she starts picking up chatter with her new equipment. We're sent on a scavenger hunt to record all of the voices, decode their meaning and then solve a series of simple puzzles. If she can do that, she'll move on to a new section of the park and do the whole thing over again.

A lot of Sylvio plays out like a broken record. The goal is to hunt around the small location and kill a series of menacing clouds of black smoke. You do this with a homemade gun Juliette is lucky enough to find while breaking into the various lockers. Once you've shot and killed the smoke monsters, you record the sounds they make and then try to pull out the important clues. The idea is to rewind, speed up and slow down the audio to isolate specific words and phrases coming from the afterlife.

Beyond just being a fun gimmick, these audio clues will point you in the directions of the puzzle pieces. Much like old graphic adventure games, a lot of Sylvio involves just wandering around and picking up useful items. Once you've found everything and killed all the cloud monsters, a massive human-like ghost will appear and stomp around the level. Kill the boss, collect the audio, rinse, repeat.

Sylvio (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Although the visuals are a bit primitive and gameplay is a tad sluggish, I was immediately intrigued by the spooky set-up and audio recording gimmick. Unfortunately, my excitement for the concept dissipated the longer it went on. After the initial mystery, we're kicked outside and forced to wander around through the thick red fog. There's nothing interesting to look at here, and we end up spending a huge portion of the game getting lost in the dark.

To its credit, Sylvio was significantly longer than I was expecting. I figured I was nearing the end after the first few areas, but the game had a lot more to show me. The problem is the pacing, which keeps us in each area for far too long. Some of this has to do with there being a lot of filler, while a lot of the problem comes down to the middle section looking a bit samey.

I doubt this would have been an issue if the main story was more interesting. The attempt at horror ceases to be scary once you've seen the same series of events play out multiple times. The overall mystery is also treads a lot of familiar ground, though it's often effectively done. There are a few interesting twists, but they are spread through an overly long adventure. I often found myself wishing the game would just get to the point.

Sylvio (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It's frustrating because the initial concept is so compelling. There are so many things you could do with the audio recording gimmick, yet Sylvio plays it safe and just repeats the same ideas over and over. This is the type of horror game that should continue to build on the mechanic as you get closer to the shocking ending, but the game never bothers to stray outside of its comfort zone. There's no building on the concept, just repeating the mechanics until you're sick of them.

Sylvio is an occasionally effective horror game with a really cool conceit. I love the idea of recording and decoding conversations from the spirit world and the abandoned amusement park can be genuinely spooky. Unfortunately, all this becomes less compelling with each repetition, taking players on an overlong adventure that isn't especially original. Juliette Waters deserves a better horror game.
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