Sylvio 2 - PC Review

Sylvio 2 is sort of an odd title, because it really is a case of taking one step forward and then taking two steps back. While there are improvements upon the first game, somewhere along the way this horror game lost some of its soul that made the first title unique if still flawed. The end result is still a decent exploration adventure, but one that never really rises above its flaws.

While the first Sylvio had its own set of issues, I found the unique experience interesting enough to score it a score of seven out of ten when it first released back on PC. Right out of the gates, there is some comfortable familiarity in taking on the role of Juliette Waters who was very ably voiced in the original title by Maia Hansson Bergqvist. You spend the majority of your time with her in the original game with her softly spoken but moody dialog, and that returns as a strong point in Sylvio 2 as well.

This time instead of exploring an abandoned amusement part, Juliette wakes up in an empty apartment that makes up about a dozen levels and nearly two dozen islands connected by a flooded area that allows some pretty open exploration. This creates a very unique scenario, even if it doesn't feel as inherently creepy to me as the one used in the last game. It probably does not help that one of the biggest changes from the last game is that instead of improving the lightweight combat found in the first game, it was simply removed. With it goes most of the tension from Sylvio 2, which relies on creepy sounds and impressively moody music to set the stage.

While the audio is the strong point of the presentation, the video is clearly indie and while I can appreciate the style the developer is trying to create here, the fact of the matter is that technically speaking, the graphics just are not all that impressive. The primary gameplay loops involves walking around the environments, which has some really lightweight puzzles thrown in to obstruct progress as you find clips of audio - and now video - to sift through to find the answers you seek. There will be access codes and keys along the way to help gain deeper access to the game, but the core mechanic is the use of Juliette's EVP machine that allows her to decode messages from spirits that seem to be trapped in this location. Your job then is to help guide Juliette to these glowing dots so she can uncover a bit more to the story each time.

While I like the idea of adding the ghost videos this time around, or at least I like the idea of them, the execution often leaves a bit to be desired. They are a welcome change of pace, but somehow manage to be less creepy most of the time when compared to just listening to audio. A handful of these were really effective, but most were just sort of 'there' and did not add much to the atmosphere. Also, while not trying to be too critical, the ending is also more miss than hit. I liked that it tries to clarify a couple of vague threads in both games, but it feels like they tried just a bit too hard to be surprising and wound up with an ending that just did not quite feel as though it fit to me.

Sylvio 2 is not a bad game by any means. I appreciate that Stroboskop tried to take feedback from the original to help quell some of the bigger concerns, like how hard it was to figure out what you had to do next or having to rely on clunky combat. The problem is, a great deal of the game's tension is drained as a result, and the game we get in the sequel is technically more proficient and less frustrating, but also less interesting. If you were a big fan of the original, there is enough here to come back to with an interesting protagonist and premise that runs about half a dozen hours in total.

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Single Player
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Article by Nick


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