GYLT Review – A Guilty Pleasure?

    Title: GYLT
    Developer: Tequila Works, Parallel Circles
    Release Date: July 6, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Tequila Works
    Genre: Horror Adventure

Psychological horror games can be an incredibly powerful medium if placed in the right hands; they often prey on our personal fears and insecurities rather than the primal fear of being chased by a killer.

This, in turn, can also be an excellent storytelling tool, and many games in the horror genre have also touched on important social themes within their narratives. GYLT from developer Tequila Works seeks to do the same, pairing traumatic childhood memories with puzzle-solving and stealth gameplay. However, something might be missing from the equation here, which leaves the final product feeling a little uninspiring.

The story centers around Sally as she searches for her younger sister Emily in a distorted version of their hometown of Bethelwood. As she explores this twisted, ruined version of the town, she has to confront difficult emotions and painful memories while also fighting for her life against the prowling shadow monsters that have made the town their stomping grounds.

As a horror concept, it’s not exactly original. One of the most popular horror franchises ever, Silent Hill, also uses a mysterious, supernatural town as its setting. But a lack of originality isn’t always a bad thing, as new outlooks, experiences, and creative visions can breathe new life into familiar story concepts.


Unfortunately, GYLT doesn’t really do anything all too special with its subject matter and isn’t entirely subtle with it, either. Early on, it’s plain to see that the main theme is bullying, and it never really says anything meaningful outside of decrying it.

And most people are aware that bullying is bad and that it can lead to severe trauma in children, so it just sort of feels like a message that has been heard many times over. It does play with the idea of where said bullying can come from, but certain revelations within the story were not entirely surprising to me either. The title itself is a nod to one of the game’s central plot points.


It perhaps wouldn’t be too much of an issue if it weren’t bogged down by pacing issues. Gameplay is spent one step behind Emily, and the story doesn’t do a good enough job to pull you along for the ride. Rather it feels like you’re dragging yourself to one place, only to find out you can’t go there yet, so you have to drag yourself to another place. After playing for a solid five hours, I felt like nothing hadn’t really hooked me in any way. For a game as short as this, I at least don’t expect to be bored. But instead, each new, unexplored area felt more and more like a drag.

So the story didn’t do much to hold my attention, so what of the gameplay? It fares a little better, but it ultimately just feels functional and never really impresses. Most of it is spent sneaking by enemies, but you’re equipped a little too well for if you do manage to get caught. Early on, you get the means to kill any enemy to come across, and you even get a stealth kill move that is extremely effective and economical.

The main reason not to engage is to conserve your resources, but the game is perhaps a little too generous with these as well. The game marks them on your map, too, so it’s easy enough to be maxed out on health and battery for your flashlight.


A large part of a horror game should be making you feel vulnerable, and while monster encounters can be deadly, there’s a lack of proper tension once you realize that you can easily dispatch them or that even if you do die, you won’t lose much of your progress.

If anything, I felt more annoyed by the enemies, as they serve more as time-wasting obstacles than anything else. Their designs are also not especially intimidating. Creepy for some, perhaps, but not the sort of creatures that strike dread into you as they approach. Fights against boss monsters are suitably more challenging, but some of their mechanics feel a little undercooked.


The puzzles are where this adventure shines strongest. While they don’t bring anything especially unique to the genre, there were definitely a few that stumped me for a couple of minutes. The game doesn’t hold your hand with them either, and certain mechanics are left to you using your wits and common sense to solve. When some of those solutions click into place, they definitely feel satisfying. I don’t think there’s enough variety, though, and some of them are incredibly easy to brute force.

Exploration is also one of the game’s stronger suits, as there are ample collectibles to discover, and they aren’t always obvious or in plain sight. It can be easy to miss them entirely unless you know what it is you’re looking for. The game does aid any potential frustrations by marking the location of collectibles on the map, so long as you have been near them, but this does undercut that sense of satisfaction you get from finding them on your own.

Visually, GYLT is once again mostly only functional, it has a style reminiscent of a stop-animated film, but the shadows often feel too harsh and all-consuming. Darkness is obviously an important tool for horror, but it often just feels difficult to see for the sake of it, and the flashlight doesn’t help you enough in this regard. Enemies are easy enough to discern through the shadows without making them stand out completely, but the inclusion of radar to help keep track of their position would have also helped.


There’s just something toothless about GYLT. It almost feels like a horror game made for younger audiences. A younger demographic certainly might find enjoyment in it. I’ll admit, as it’s simple enough and focuses on concepts that would likely resonate even more with someone who is still at school. But for anyone else, it just feels lacking in more ways than one.

GYLT is obviously a game with a lot of hard work put into it. It’s trying its best to tell a story about relatable trauma and how bullying can take many different forms. But it ultimately is unable to tell its story in a way that is subtle enough to be effective or well-paced enough to be engaging. It meanders with its plot for too long, and by the time it picked up speed, I was just wishing it was over. Even given its short length, it somehow feels like it overstays its welcome.


Strong environmental puzzles, unfortunately, don’t do anything to save GYLT, and as such, there’s nothing here I would really recommend to anyone other than to a younger gamer just getting into the genre. Horror fans will have seen everything this game has to offer before, and a lack of anything gripping will stop newcomers from sticking around for its brief runtime.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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