Halloween is drawing near, and spooky games are popping up all over the place. While I love myself another Resident Evil 4 re-release, I also adore games that manage to fill me with a sense of dread, while making me frantically solve puzzles to the soundtrack of my own screams. In fact, it has to be said that the games that accomplish atmospheric dread are some of the best at keeping me scrunched up in a ball in a dark room until 2 a.m. All this being said I’m very pleased to note that today at The Indie Horror Showcase, developer Stroboskop and publisher DreadXP revealed their newest project; entitled Sylvio: Black Waters.
Sylvio: Black Waters evokes the atmosphere of games like Amnesia, Outlast, and Soma. What makes this title unique, however, is the focus on environmental puzzles and exploration. Stranded on an alien planet filled with strange spiritual phenomena, the player is left to their own devices to unravel the oddities surrounding this place. One of the most striking mysteries the player will uncover is this nightmarish world’s uncanny resemblance to our own Earth.
The environment in Sylvio: Black Waters is painted in dark, moody, grim shades and absolutely dripping in suffocating fog. Little is given away in the reveal trailer but we know this title will contain a number of audio and visual puzzles. With this in mind, it makes this game sound like an experience you will want to don your headphones for; as the answer to any mystery could be whispered into your ears. The trailer exudes an air of foreboding mystery while also showing off some very intriguing mechanics.
In the trailer we witness the player cranking a television (that apparently is light enough to carry in your backpack,) a fancy wristwatch and a “gun” that, in this humble writer’s eyes, appears to be shooting holy water bottles. Water guns I understand, but televisions are usually used against players in horror games. It’s nice to see the developers subverting that detail and using it for something else entirely. Stroboskop’s previous titles have also featured novel equipment for puzzle solving and ghost hunting, to largely positive player feedback, making this latest entry even more intriguing.
Sylnio: Black Waters teases a multi-layered narrative revealed through the use of audio recordings and visual storytelling. By reconstructing this world’s mysterious past, the player may discover answers about what is to come in the future. This also adopts an approach reminiscent of other environmental storytelling games like Outer Wilds. In games like these, nothing is quite as it seems. Part of the fun of this sort of narrative is discovering your theory was right all along, or not for that matter. Something that can lead you down other, less savory, and far more frightening avenues.
This is Stroboskop’s third title in this series and is considered to be a return to form for fans of their previous entries. It has been over 6 years since, Sylvio 2, a game that was released to mixed reviews. The first game, Sylvio, on the other hand, was considered an innovative sleeper hit in the atmospheric horror genre and nominated for Best Original Game by the 2015 TIGA Awards. Having taken on board the lessons taught by these two previous games, and with a newly acquired publisher in DreadXP at their back. Sylvio: Black Waters is primed for a spooktacular release in early 2024 when the game will be released on Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation consoles. Fans and those of you interested in this new horror creation can wishlist the Steam page now and find more information there.