Silt Review: A Surreal Underwater Puzzle Adventure

Considering picking up the indie puzzle game Silt but not sure if it’s worth the price tag? See what we have to say about it in this Silt game review.

Bottom Line

Silt is a visually-captivating puzzle game that takes players through the depths of eldritch horror. It’s best recommended to fans of games like Inside and Limbo so long as they can stomach terrifying sea monsters and the occasional bug.

2.5

The Pros:

  • Stunning 2D visuals
  • Atmospheric environments
  • Simple controls

The Cons:

  • Checkpoints are too far apart
  • Puzzles leave no room for error
  • Immersion-breaking creature AI

While many indie games come up short when trying to replicate the surreal and harrowing atmosphere of Playdead titles like Limbo and Inside, Silt manages to hit the mark.

Developed by Spiral Circus and published by Fireshine Games, this surreal underwater puzzle adventure game tasks players with surviving in a hostile 2D ocean overrun with aquatic monstrosities.

In this review, we’ll break down Silt’s story, setting, gameplay, visuals, and performance to help you decide whether it’s worth picking up at full price, on sale, or not at all.

My experience is based on the PC Steam version provided by the publisher though you can also find Silt on EGS, GOG, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch platforms.

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Table of ContentsShow

Story And Setting

Silt Story and Setting

One of the first things to likely catch your eye about Silt is its unique setting, which features beautifully detailed, 2D hand-drawn grayscale environments created by the artist Mr Mead.

Despite the lack of color, I found myself captivated by Silt’s intriguing world and motivated to uncover all of its dark and unsettling secrets.

Story-wise, the game has very little to offer aside from some cryptic, eldritch horror imagery depicting various animals as god-like figures who seemingly once ruled over this underwater abyss.

You play as a silent protagonist deep-sea diver who awakes chained inside the belly of a beast and must get free before venturing outward where more dark and dreary caverns await them.

Considering Silt is a puzzle game, I don’t think many players (me included) will take issue with its lack of narrative so long as they enjoy the game’s visual approach to storytelling.

Gameplay Breakdown

Silt Gameplay Breakdown

Other than visuals, gameplay is where Silt really shows its admiration for games like Limbo and Inside as the main game mechanic is to possess other living things.

This is done by holding down a button and dragging a bright, slow-moving tendril across the screen to your target before releasing.

Once a creature becomes possessed, you can navigate the environment and use its unique abilities to solve puzzles and bypass threats while your diver lays motionless in the water.

While this mechanic gets explored in some fun and interesting ways early on, it never expands past simply using whatever fish are in the immediate vicinity to advance.

Instead, later levels ramp up the difficulty by layering on multiple trial-and-error puzzle sequences that suffer from tight timing restrictions and unforgiving checkpoints.

As a result, I found myself frustrated during repeated instances where I would make it halfway through a level only to mess up and have to replay the entire section from the start.

Graphics And Performance

Silt Graphics and Performance

After coming to grips with Silt’s somewhat floaty controls and at times confusing level design, I stumbled upon a much greater issue: the game’s creature AI.

Many of Silt’s underwater horrors are prone to clipping through walls, other enemies, and generally don’t always behave as you would expect.

There were instances where it felt like I would perform an action the game hadn’t accounted for and it would punish me by having an enemy teleport to my immediate location. 

During these instances, the screen would freeze for a moment and the audio would stutter before skipping to my character’s death animation.

It’s a shame considering I’m such a fan of Silt’s art direction but I do think it would benefit from a few updates addressing the more common AI and graphical/sound bugs.

The Final Verdict

Silt The Final Verdict

By the end of my dark descent through Silt’s dangerous waters, I walked away feeling more annoyed than satisfied as the late-game puzzles left me with a bad taste.

Assuming Spiral Circus continues to support the game with post-launch patches to work out some of the kinks, I do think it can get to a more playable state.

At the same time, there are inherent flaws in Silt’s puzzle design philosophy that rely on artificial difficulty spikes gated by tight timing windows and trial-and-error solutions.

Visually, the game is a masterpiece but when it comes to actual gameplay, I do think Silt would have benefited from some more playtesting and development time.

If you find yourself drawn to Silt’s visuals like I was and are curious to discover all of its mysteries for yourself, I would suggest holding out until the game goes on sale.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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