Review – Gylt
Stadia is a few months old now and there’s only one true exclusive under its belt. That game is Gylt from Tequilla games, the developer of Deadlight and Rime. Gylt is a stealth survival horror game and one that captured my interest early on.
To start, my time with Stadia has been mostly pretty good. The input latency feels minimal, but this is a game that doesn’t really need quick button presses or fast reaction times. As for the quality, I’ve been using a 100Mb/s wired connection and this has provided a mostly solid experience. I have been able to maintain a 1080p stream with only a few artefacts and hiccups.
You play as Sally, whose cousin, Emily, has mysteriously vanished. She is out of town putting up posters, desperately trying to keep people reminded of her plight and stay on the lookout. After being chased by some bullies in the game’s opening sequence, you return to the town and things have changed. The city is destroyed and Sally is the only person around, although it seems she has brought monsters along with her.
Gylt is primarily a stealth horror game. As you sneak around the town you will encounter a number of different enemy types all wanting to take you out. The stealth is as simple as it gets with basic monster patrols who have a limited field of vision in which to spot you. If you do get seen, getting away is pretty easy with some of the gadgets you’ll pick up and dozens of hiding spaces scattered around the small maps. It’s simple and not as effective as it should be, ending up being slightly tedious.
In the same style as Alan Wake, light is your greatest ally with being able to utilise it to take out your dark enemies. Pressing the interact button whilst standing right behind an enemy will allow you to perform an insta-kill takedown. If you are spotted, simply targeting the weak spots (aim-assist is aggressive) will allow you to take them down with ease. Performing attacks will start to drain your batteries, but with the over-abundance of supplies this is rarely ever a problem. Combat is more of a last resort anyway with exit points and hiding spots abundant throughout the small areas.
Then we’ve got the puzzles that are often just messing with things in the environment. Things like moving a ladder around to get to a higher place, whilst weird light beam patterns shine all around. They are fine and break up the core stealth gameplay nicely, but are never too complex.
When you aren’t sneaking around monsters or solving puzzles you will be facing them head on in boss fights. Often these fights will be disappointingly simple with blatant weaknesses that make them too easy. Gylt doesn’t do a good job with its boss fights, which is a real shame since some of the designs are actually quite solid.
There is a surprisingly effective moment part way through the game where new mannequin enemies get introduced and you don’t really have a way to deal with them. That is until just a few minutes later where you get the fire extinguisher that freezes them in place long enough to do whatever it is you were doing. It becomes laughably simple and I even started pushing them into empty room just so they wouldn’t bother me later. This is the main problem with Gylt. Genuinely tense and enjoyable moments don’t last long and just as I’m starting to enjoy the game, something happens to pull me out of the experience.
Visually, I actually really enjoy the art style of Gylt. It keeps it “kid” friendly whilst setting a genuinely creepy atmosphere with some great environmental designs that remind me of games like Silent Hill . The desolate town streets are lined with ruined cars, whilst interiors lend to a much more intrusive feel. It’s a more personal experience for Sally, with eyes watching over her, messages scrawled all over the place, and mannequins positioned to represent the game’s themes. Sadly, these creative environmental designs are sold short by some low quality textures and lacklustre visual effects.
Sound design is also fairly solid. Whilst the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired, the overall score and sound effects make it easy to become immersed in the game. Creepy noises off in the distance give a genuine sense of unease.
Gylt all together lasts maybe three to four hours depending on how much you explore, with a few dozen collectables to gather. It’s a short experience which is disappointing, but at the very least it does try and encourage a second playthrough. There are three endings, one of which is locked behind the gathering of said collectables. So there is incentive to explore and gather everything you can.
I really wanted to like Gylt. It has a promising concept with a cool art style. It’s got some ideas that would have made for a great lite horror game, but instead the weak stealth and dull boss fights bring the experience way down.
Gylt has a distinctive young horror look that I really enjoy. There’s some great environmental designs despite some poor textures.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Gylt, every aspect of the gameplay feels underdeveloped.
Great score that sets the stage wonderfully, though the voice acting is less than stellar.
Gylt has a lot of good ideas that it doesn’t fully explore.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Gylt is available now on Stadia.
Reviewed on Stadia.