Stadia stealth horror experience isn’t a classic, but it is genuinely unsettling in places. Here’s our review of GYLT.
You need to come out strong, otherwise, you run the risk of being quickly overlooked, and soon after forgotten about. Google’s Stadia needs a killer app; that one exclusive game to really sell people on the idea of a streaming future where we don’t need dedicated hardware, and anyone who can afford the subscription fee and good internet is on a level footing. GYLT is not that game. GYLT is a game from 2011 in shinier clothes, bereft of any real excitement, repetitive to the point of banality, and not the sort of thing you’d be able to sell an £8.99 a month subscription off the back of.
That’s what it isn’t – but what is GYLT? It’s a third-person horror-narrative-puzzler, basically. You take on the role of Sally, a young girl who refuses to give up looking for her disappeared cousin. Chased by the bullies who have been hounding her through her few years on the planet, Sally ends up stumbling into a living nightmare – the town she knows so well, but twisted, weird, and wrong. Her hunt for the missing cousin continues nevertheless, but instead of bullies on her tail, it’s a bunch of monsters and other supernatural sorts that come out to play. Basically, imagine a world where someone played Silent Hill then watched Stranger Things, and you’ve got the idea.
What you actually do in GYLT isn’t all that exciting, really. Exploration around the nightmare incarnation of the town, a lot of stealth as you sneak about avoiding the gaze (and hearing range) of the plentiful monsters, and some very basic puzzle solving. It’s not ridiculously easy to blunder through things in the most part – you can and will fail at times – but there’s really not much in the way of challenge. A powerlessness against the monsters soon fades away as new items and abilities come to the fore, so any real frights are reserved for the odd cheap jump scare. Why would a monster be in any way horrifying when it struggles so much to see or hear you coming, and you can one-hit stealth kill it?
And that’s what GYLT all comes down to, really: it’s just not weighty enough an experience. It can be spooky, sometimes scary, but that atmosphere is inconsistent. Monsters are initially worrying, soon enough hardly relevant. The story sounds like it’s going to be a big driver of things, but ends up almost an afterthought. Tequila Works’ Stadia debut – the first exclusive on the fledgling platform – isn’t what Google needed to kickstart its would-be revolution. But away from that aspect, it’s also not what the third-person horror-narrative-puzzler genre needed, either. You can turn off the brain and gather some enjoyment here for the few hours it lasts, and there are just about enough scares to keep the adrenaline higher than resting levels. But there’s nothing revelatory about GYLT, and little reason for this to be a platform exclusive.
It does falter, and you are sometimes taken out of the experience, but generally speaking GYLT is home to a solid sense of place. It’s no small compliment to say the game, at times, conjures up a similar feeling to that of Silent Hill: a weird town full of weird things, and a bit scary too. Good stuff.
Sometimes good, largely middling, GYLT isn’t a great advert for Stadia.
Genre: Stealth-horror | Format: Stadia (tested) | Developer: Tequila Works | Publisher: Tequila Works | Price: £29.99 (free w/Pro subscription) | Release: Out now