Sylvio had so much potential; it was a new take on the great but stale horror genre. You play as Juliette Waters; she is a Ghost hunter who records the voices of ghosts she comes across through her audio recorder. While the premise is great, the execution is sadly not. Starting with what is by far the worst part, the sound design, this is where the game falls flat. This is mostly to the voice acting of the main character. When she is narrating it is extremely hard to hear at times. Another issue with it is she is emotionless. Every time she speaks it is in a flat, monotone tone. These are not the only problems with the voice acting. In the options menu, you can turn subtitles on but in some cases even with this on they still wouldn’t appear. This, of course, is a problem because you wouldn’t know what is going on/what to do. While I did have problems with the voice acting I did, however, find the music to be great. The music in the game fits the atmosphere perfectly. It is dark and has a sense of dread to it.
On to the graphics, the graphics in this game are hit or miss. Some of the textures and models look like they could be from a late original Xbox game/ early 360 title while others look much better. These problems are most noticeable at the beginning of the parts of the game and the loading screens. While these are not major issues and they are not bad to look at, they are not up to the standards that an Xbox one can produce.
The gameplay works fine, but there are a couple of strange issues in design that I encountered. The most noticeable are the item management. When you want to use an item such as a key or a pipe, it floats in an odd way in front of the character. Most games have a dedicated inventory screen to allow you to select the item of your choice. When using other tools in the game such as your flashlight or audio recorder you see the character hold the object, but, when using a key, for instance, it just floats in front of the character. This, of course, took me out of the experience. The other gameplay mechanics of the game work fine, for example, using the audio recorder and getting hints from the ghosts that you may encounter was not only a great use of storytelling but also of puzzle solving. When using the audio recorder, it also shows how close you are to nearby ghosts. This is useful to the player as some of them can be hostile. This brings me to the other problem I had with the gameplay. When you are moving about you will get transported back to your last save point. At first, it will seem odd that this happens because you will have little to no idea as to what causes this. The thing is you can’t see any of the ghosts that you are recording so when you’re out exploring it can be frustrating when you lose your progress and get transported to the last checkpoint. The only possible indication that a ghost is near is if you have the recorder out. While out it the display’s waves will change the closer a ghost is. Early in the game, you do get a gun to try and protect yourself, but it is hard to know where to aim if you can’t see where the enemy is coming.
The plot is the most interesting part of the game like I said earlier it has a solid premise. Playing as a ghost hunter who’s intention is to send the lost spirits to the light with her audio recordings is great. As stated earlier the only issue with the plot is how it is told. The poor use of voice acting hurts this.
As for replay value, I would say this title will not offer a significant amount. With some of the issues such as the enemies being hard to detect causing frustrating gameplay you will not want to come back to Sylvio often.
Sylvio is a game that had so much potential, but the end result leaves a lot to be desired. The poor voice acting, questionable inventory design, and the little indication you have for when an enemy is close ultimately hurt the game. If you’re considering a new horror game in the near future, I would just wait for Resident Evil 7. Sylvio, while it does have its moments, it is unfortunately not worth the price of admission. It is for these reasons that I am giving Sylvio a 4/10.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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