It's estimated roughly 80 per cent of the Earth's oceans remain unexplored, and Silt revels in that. An underwater puzzler from indie newcomer Spiral Circus, its outstanding visuals and unsettling sound design set the scene for a fascinating deep-sea dive into the unknown.
You play as one such snorkeler, who has the power to possess the aquatic life they bump into. Each species has its own unique ability, and these form the basis of puzzles across the 2D plane. Be it a piranha chomping through cables, an electric eel that can power underwater machinery, or a crab with a tough outer shell to break equipment, every fish has its use. You'll take control of them, use their power to change the environment around you, and then return to your body to progress.
Besides a few frustrating sequences, the puzzles within are never particularly demanding. It's always pretty clear what to do next — either a nearby fish will house the ability you need to push forward or you must manipulate the scene in order to open up new pathways. As such, it's more about experiencing the three-hour journey Silt takes you on rather than solving challenging brain teasers. Execution is paramount, and the game is all the better for that.
It gives you the chance to truly take in its beautiful black and white graphics, which are coupled with effective sound effects. It really feels like you're underwater; the protagonist breathes heavily in their suit while the only other noises come from the depths around you. There's hardly any actual soundtrack layered on top, and it's incredible.
This all comes together to create a real sense of atmosphere, heightened by interesting imagery in the background. Silt remains vague throughout, keeping its story close to its chest and only hinting at the underwater universe through the structures you swim through. The only slight disappointment is the frame rate, which really stutters in the larger areas.
It takes nothing away from the real triumph Silt is, though, with stunning visuals, disturbing sound cues, and an enjoyable gameplay loop. Silt represents what's so special about indies: a great game just outside the norm.