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Sylvio 2 Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While it's not especially scary and the world they've created isn't all that compelling, I ultimately liked the idea of recording spooky sounds and trying to decipher their meaning. Unfortunately, this concept needs to be injected into a more exciting horror game that isn't plagued by rampant bugs and glitches. And when it comes right down to it, the only thing genuinely scary about Sylvio 2 is how long it takes you to sail between islands. Why does it take so long? Rating: 40%
Sylvio 2
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  • Review Score:

  • C-
There's something about the Sylvio series that I can't help but appreciate. While every other horror game throws monsters and jump scares at you, Sylvio is a series that basks in the quiet investigation. This is a game more interested in deciphering audio logs than making you squirm, and yet it remains an intriguing horror experience with some clever ideas. So why is it that I don't like this series more? After playing through the brand new sequel, I think I have an answer.

This is the continuing story of Juliette Waters, an audio recordist with a penchant for the supernatural. When we last saw her, she was investigating the aftermath of a destroyed amusement park. With that behind her, Juliette is on a new adventure that takes her back to the flooded park in an attempt to find her missing boyfriend.


Things are confusing right off the bat. After landing on the island, we cut to black and wake up in a mysterious underground dwelling. The truth is, I assumed this was all part of the plan, but later she mentions something about being kidnapped and fighting for her survival. We're told that there's a nasty storm on the horizon and the supernatural investigator should make her way back to the lighthouse, but she's not about to listen. Once she's locked in the mystery, there's no holding her back.

What we quickly realize is that there's an entire community that has been mysterious buried under rocks and water. We'll investigate people's homes, museums and churches in hopes of figuring out what happened. Much like the original game, Juliette comes equipped with recording device that will help her uncover the ghostly clues. But it goes far beyond audio recording this time, as she'll also be capturing video evidence of the spirits. It's a genuinely creepy upgrade that is used to great effect here.

The idea is to ask the ghosts questions and then record the answer. But it's not as simple as that. You'll need to rewind, speed up and slow down the audio to isolate specific words and phrases coming from the afterlife, which will then introduce a bunch of new clues to investigate. Once you've collected all the pieces of the story and resolved the mystery, you'll get new coordinates that will take you to the next underground dwelling.

Sylvio 2 (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The original game had Juliette fighting off smoke monsters and other baddies in order to isolate the supernatural audio, but that's not the case in this sequel. I'm not sure why, but the developers have decided to ditch all of the combat, refocusing the series to be about the investigation. While the combat was easily the weakest part of the first game, it's sorely missed in Sylvio 2. A lot of this game feels like you're simply walking from one white dot to the next, recording audio and deciphering the clues. This is good from a storytelling perspective, but I can't help but feel like something is missing.

Unfortunately, this is just the start of the problems I had with Sylvio 2. Let's talk about the world they present here, which is nothing more than a bunch of boring islands separated by way too much water. I'll give the sequel credit, it's certainly more ambitious than the original, but that isn't always a good thing. A lot of the game will be spent slowly sailing from one island to the next, which will often stretch out across seven or eight agonizing minutes. There's no way to speed it up or fast travel, so you're always at the whim of the painfully slow boat. I'm all for sailing through the fog, but there's no reason it should it should take close to ten minutes to reach the next stage. That's bad design.

It doesn't help that even at its best, Sylvio 2 isn't a very good looking game. It's frustrating that every stage is essentially a different house or building. It's a bunch of boring interior stages where the wallpaper and general layouts are all the same. Sure, there are a few unique settings the explore, but the majority of the game is bland. I would argue that Sylvio 2 is at its best when you're deciphering the video recordings, and that's mostly because it's the only element with actual style.

Sylvio 2 (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

And then there's the never-ending parade of game-breaking bugs. The challenge doesn't come from avoiding enemies or solving tough puzzles, but rather dealing with the constant glitches and problems. This is the kind of game where you'll get stuck in the environment three times within the first five minutes, only to later run into an issue where the game refuses to advance the story no matter what you do. I ended up having to restart the game twice, and even then I was always a little worried that it was only a matter of time before I ran into another game-breaking bug. And that's on top of all the small stuff, like the text randomly changing sizes and the fact that the ghost camera doesn't always work properly. This game is a mess.

The problem is that I really like the idea behind this game. I'm a big fan of the way you have to decipher ghostly recordings, and I feel that this is a unique way of building the tension. At the same time, the developer never does anything interesting with the gimmick. The audio and video recording needs to be connected to a more terrifying horror game, perhaps one filled with trippy visuals and otherworldly enemies. But without that, the result is a repetitive exercise in hunting down clues and solving barely-interesting mysteries. Juliette needs to apply her recording skills to a better game.

While it's not especially scary and the world they've created isn't all that compelling, I ultimately liked the idea of recording spooky sounds and trying to decipher their meaning. Unfortunately, this concept needs to be injected into a more exciting horror game that isn't plagued by rampant bugs and glitches. And when it comes right down to it, the only thing genuinely scary about Sylvio 2 is how long it takes you to sail between islands. Why does it take so long?
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