Sylvio is a first person horror experience that was developed by Stroboskop, originally releasing to much user acclaim on Steam back in 2015. Now out on Xbox, the experience is relatively the same but opens the door to more players getting a chance to explore the Saginaw amusement park and uncover the secrets within it. Most of the game is spent exploring slightly open sections of the park. With your recording equipment, you can listen to spirits, which will unlock goals and secrets for you to pursue. Using the microphone, you can track and identify these spirits or waypoints. It is a slower, more modest approach on the genre that avoids the typical jump-scare notion and instead feeds of genuine chills and the players inevitable anxiety. The mic shows a wave sensor with a number, indicating how close you are to a recordable spirit. There are sounds to record that unlock clues to the happenings in your location, as well as hidden ones that serve as collectible snippets. Most of the recordings are to be dissected on your playback machine, which allows to speed up, slow down, and reverse recorded tracks to find hidden messages. These are essential to tracking down key items, but are also essential to the games best feature: the audio.
Aside from recording and dissecting the voices of the dead, you can actually fight some spirits that manifest themselves. Occasionally you will come across these black orbs which will gravitate towards you, killing you if they come within arm’s reach. These can be fought off with your gun, which is more of a potato launcher than anything. It shoots a variety of debris, which can either push or damage objects and foes depending on what is loaded. Potatoes, baseballs, and rocks are for interacting with distant objects; while glass, screws, and other dangerous items are used for “killing” the enemy so to speak. The gun is pneumatic, meaning from time to time you will need to swap out pressurized canisters to get some “oomph” behind your shots. While the black orbs are not really scary, there are giant, human like specters that will also appear. These are a lot harder to fend off, and will usually throw objects at you in attempts to kill you, but are still rather easy to get rid of. Aside from these short fights, you will often find yourself completing puzzles to advance. I like the diversity of these puzzles, as they are unique from area to area. Whether they are fetch quests or otherwise, they are all presented differently and interestingly with each one you come across.
Other than the hard to follow story, the titles biggest hindrance is it's technical flaws. Popping textures, jagged frames, and muddy visuals brought my mood down by the time I wrapped the game up. If they were spread out more, I may not have minded, but the game showed a clear lack of polish. It is a bit overlong as well. While the 10-15 hours worth of gameplay is impressive, it was not necessary in my opinion. Much of the time comes from the slow walking of your character, but in bigger sections you can actually drive from task to task. The saving grace is the authenticity of the recorded specters, and the genuine scares derived from them. It’s a chilling game no doubt, but the port needed more polish, a smoother sense of things, and a bit more loving care as a package. I like the themes in place, do not get me wrong, but Sylvio just unfortunately peaks early on.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 7/10
+Unique Horror Experience