Silt Review

Richard Walker

In Silt, you're a deep-sea diver, equipped with floppy little flippers, an oxygen tank, and an old-style diving helmet. You start the game chained to the bottom of the ocean, before breaking free to set about your task. What that task is, you're not quite sure initially, but, with a supernatural ability to possess other marine animals, your plucky deep-diving pal is never really alone, although you often feel alone. Before long, Silt reveals its various mysteries, ensconced way, way, waaaaay down in the dark and briny depths.

These worms are proper bastards.

Silt is one of those arty black-and-white indie games that might look like it owes a debt to Limbo, but in reality it pulls its inspiration from several different sources. Granted, one of those sources is Limbo, because it's a bit like Limbo, but underwater. Its eerie and macabre hand-drawn art style, by Tom Mead, is also reminiscent of Amanita Design's Creaks; the sort of haunting, etched look you'd find in a dusty old fairy tale tome. I love it. Like Limbo, Silt is entirely bereft of dialogue, too, its enveloping atmosphere intensified by entrancing audio, all subtle gurgles and watery bubbling sounds.

Music is used sparingly, and it lends Silt an ethereal, otherworldly quality, amplified by the game's layered, textural artwork, which renders an ocean environment teeming with life. Some of the seafloor flora and fauna is friendly, and perfectly happy to let you swim by, while other organisms will snap you up in their toothy maws or razor-edged pincers, given half a chance. It's the more benign sea life that your intrepid diver is able to possess, using a glowing tendril, which emanates from the window of his diving helmet, and curls out towards its targets like a creeping, luminescent wisp of smoke.

Puzzles invariably revolve around possessing fish, whether it's a snapping piranha-type thing, able to bite through progress-blocking cables, or a school of tiny tuna (or whatever they are – I'm not a marine biologist) you can use to distract predators. Some fish are able to swiftly dart past snapping, carnivorous plants, and some can even phase through walls. Other creatures you can possess include scuttling crabs whose shells are so hard they can destroy whirring machinery, and explosive floating motes that could be jellyfish. I'm not sure. Again, I'm not a marine biologist. There are definitely leeches, though. Nasty little leeches.

The Kraken tree's ‘birds’ are just plain creepy.

Silt's puzzles are rather elegantly executed, involving your ability to chain together creature possessions and interact with various mechanisms to create some neat little head-scratchers. Certain sequences have the capacity to be a mite annoying, but, for the most part, it's clear that indie outfit Spiral Circus Games has applied plenty of polish to Silt, creating a game that oozes atmosphere from every one of its soggy, salty pores. It's a beautifully paced, perfectly pitched experience: unsettling, immersive, and enthralling.

All inky black silhouettes, steely greys, and dirty whites within its briny abyss, Silt not only looks like a claustrophobic deep-sea nightmare, it also feels like one, conjuring an oppressive sense of loneliness and unusual serenity. As you descend ever deeper, and start awakening ancient machinery - all enormous gears, rusted chains, and gummed-up mechanisms - the game's obscure mysteries don't become any less so, and that's completely fine. Sometimes, it's nice to just soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the scenery. Besides, Silt is made with such a clear-eyed, assured vision, succeeding in being strangely surreal and beguiling, that you can't help but be totally enraptured from beginning to end.


All barnacles, salty sea life, and rusty, otherworldly machinery, Silt is an underwater odyssey filled with murky mystery and some pretty neat puzzles. In a nutshell, it's sort of like Limbo, but in the ocean.

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Beautifully subtle and unobtrusive, Silt's audio worms its way into your head, engulfing you within the game's cold, salty abyss.


Rich monochrome visuals, reminiscent of something lifted from a weird Grimm's fairy tale, slickly animated. Lovely stuff.


Oddly meditative, occasionally tricky, but constantly engaging, Silt is a neat, underwater adventure that's an enormously pleasant experience.


Weighing in at a slender 3-4 hours, Silt is pretty much a 'one-and-done' thing, but while it lasts, the swim is an enjoyable one.


All but one of Silt's trophies are entirely straightforward, and there are some nice, creative tasks in there. Completing the game without dying, though? Sod that.

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