Gylt in an interesting title by Tequila Works that was designed exclusively for Google’s online Stadia platform. While putting up missing posters of her cousin Emily, Sally gets pulled into another world while running away from bullies of her own filled with nightmarish creatures that prowl the darkness found there.
I’m generally not one for horror but Gylt caught my eye and I’m happy to say that while it’s not scary, even as you crawl through the dark with nothing more than a flashlight, it is heavy. The nightmare world that you’ll find yourself exploring if filled with the themes of bullying, ostracizing and the results of what happens when you do nothing about it.
These themes are clear to see from notes that you’ll find left by Emily, mannequins that are frozen in poses, that are clear as day, surrounding another and pointing at it as it lays in a ball on the floor hoping it all goes away. Notes on the wall only accentuate this and even without the monsters? This is already a world of hell. I would know having been bullied and ostracized in elementary and the first half of high school.
Moving around the nightmare is easy enough as you can walk normally, crouch to make as little noise as possible or Sprint like your life depends on it because let’s be honest, it sometimes does when there are just too many monsters between you and the path to safety. What I appreciated the most about Gylt is that Sally is not a hero of any kind. She’s an elementary school girl who’s scared out of her mind as she has to cross the often dark to almost pitch black locations as she tries to find her way forward in order to rescue her cousin.
The overall environment isn’t a large one, but it’s interconnected as because you often have to sneak around, it feels a lot larger than it really is. Eventually armed with both a flashlight and a fire extinguisher, the controls and the mechanics, revolve around these two items and while the puzzles become more complex as you move forward, you’ll always have whatever you need on hand in order to solve the problem. Your flashlight for example can be used to see in the dark, light up solar energy meters to make certain machines move and to blast shadow creatures if you find that there’s no other way. Using the flashlight will never diminish the meter however charging devices and eliminating shadow beats will.
The fire extinguisher by comparison can freeze valves that are spitting out steam, water that is being electrified and the obvious, putting out fires. Each of these items can be aimed and fired as needed so regardless of the device, there’s never a thought change on how to actually perform these actions. It’s simple, and while it’s simple, I like that it was kept this way as it allows for a great immersion level as you never have to think, what else do I have in my inventory that could help me out.
If I had to give a quick and easy description of Gylt? It’s Resident Evil 2’s Police Station meeting up with the stealth of Assassin’s Creed to move through the shadows and take out shadows with a flashlight all while looking like Costume Quest. That’s a rough analogy but it gives a greater idea of just how many styles were boiled down to create this short but well built experience. Clocking in anywhere between five to ten hours as some puzzles took me longer than they should have, it is a solid experience but if I were to have one issue is that it’s way too quiet and even when there’s music you can barely hear it.
The only other issue that I could state didn’t quite come with Gylt as much as it came with Stadia’s platform. Especially right now with Covid-19’s social distancing and stay at home orders in full effect, everyone working from home, those that are not streaming through multiple devices on multiple platforms, the internet connection, regardless of having a 1GB connection, may not lead to the most stable of experiences depending on the time of day. Often the first thing to go was the audio which would crinkle through making me think something was there when it was not. Otherwise, if it got worse, that’s where the framerate would drop. While I’ve seen just how bad it can get, thankfully over the course of Gylt it was never bad enough to flat out drop and tell me to restart or switch to a better connection.
Finally, Gylt has three endings available in which two are unlocked from the very beginning and a third can be achieved if you scour the environment for two specific types of collectibles. Without spoiling, it’s one of those that you’ll know as soon as you see it which also lets you know what’s in store later down the line.