Sylvio Video Game Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by Stroboskop
Developed by Stroboskop
2017, Rated Teen
Game released on January 13, 2017
Platforms: PC | PlayStation 4 | XBox One
Sometimes life can bog you down. Your job has been less than kind lately. You haven't had a day off in months. Your family is complaining about how you never call. Your cat threw up on your freshly cleaned sheets. It's been quite the week. You know what might cheer you up? Disappearing into another world, one filled with fantastic creatures and surreal situations might be exactly what is needed. Video games, like movies, are an escape for the mind to enjoy an amazing world and story with characters that you can interact with and control. Instead of watching things unfold, we are put directly into the driver's seat of a narrative. Some of the greatest stories ever told have been brought to life through video games. Having a level of control of your favorite story, with incredible heroes, heroines and villains is something your favorite film will never be able to do. Stroboskop's Sylvio attempts this with a new twist on the horror game genre.
Sylvio tells the story of audio recordist Juliette Waters who is able to record the voices of ghosts through EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) as she trespasses into an abandoned family theme park. The park, shut down since a devastating landslide in 1971, hides the voices of the deceased, each with a story to tell. Juliette is able to analyze the audio on her reel-to-reel recorder, which unveils a story of an evil curse and a family cult. As she makes her way through the park, the horrors of the past will once again come to life.
Sylvio is a first-person horror adventure game that allows players to interact with audio in a unique manner. With Juliette's recording device, the voices of the dead are able to be played back and their unique messages are written in her notebook as clues to help the player solve puzzles and learn the tales of those who have passed on. This mechanic is haunting and something I haven't experienced in a game before, which is a great thing. The environment is explorable mainly on foot and sometimes by vehicle.
While Sylvio does a fantastic job creating an unsettling mood and even delivering a handful of jump scares, there are quite a few elements that fall flat. The gun play is extremely clunky and is an awkward way for the player to interact with the surroundings. It's a strange juxtaposition to the way the rest of the game feels. Also the voice acting of Juliette is dull and she sounds uninterested in the events taking place. These elements are just enough to plague Sylvio from being a much better game.
When I first sat down with Stroboskop's Sylvio, I was very intrigued to be dealing with the recordings of ghosts and how they are interacting with the characters throughout the story. Playing and rewinding the reel-to-reel device is new and a very cool way to uncover clues to progress through the various places in the theme park. Unfortunately, there are too many other tacked on game play mechanics that seem to weigh down Sylvio from being a much better game. I wouldn't write off Stroboskop for good, however, as they delivered on a creepy premise that just needs some more fine tuning to be a truly immersive game.