GYLT review

Nobody wants to see a system fail – competition is healthy, after all. But the death or failure of a system can also benefit former rival platforms. It took the fall of the Dreamcast for SEGA to go multi-format, resulting in Sonic gracing a Nintendo platform – something ‘90s gamers never thought they’d see. The Switch has enjoyed a steady slew of underappreciated Wii U conversions, while the death of Stadia saw Microsoft snap up exclusivity for High on Life. Now, GYLT – one of the earliest Stadia exclusives – comes to PlayStation and Xbox formats, where it’s able to reach a (far) larger audience.

While High on Life was considerably fresh, changing platforms mid-development, GYLT dates back to 2019. It’s developed by Tequila Works, best known for RiME, Deadlight, and The Sexy Brutale – titles that achieved critical acclaim. Indeed, it’s easy to see why Google wanted an exclusive from the studio to launch their latest tech venture. You only need to look at screenshots to see that it’s more advanced than their previous works too, being a third-person stealth adventure with realistic lighting and other environmental effects. It’s reasonably well present too, featuring a minimalistic vanishing HUD and animated cuts-scenes. Alan Wake meets Coraline is perhaps the best way to describe it; not so much scary and terrifying but rather spooky and eerie – mostly thanks to the abundance of faceless mannequins.

GYLT Xbox screenshot

GYLT introduces us to Sally, a timid pre-teen who’s trying to find her missing cousin Emily. After decorating the town with ‘missing child’ posters and straying into the woods, she finds herself in a twisted version of her hometown. Roads are destroyed as if an earthquake has hit, shops and houses are boarded up, the townsfolks are spookily absent, and monsters resembling mutated bipedal crows patrol the streets. It isn’t long until Sally discovers Emily dwelling in this twisted town, but something isn’t quite right – she’s distraught, and on the run from…something. This chase takes leads Sally through the town, its delightfully garish arcade, and into her school, with the majority of this 6-8 hour adventure set within the school’s various facilities, ranging from the gym to the theatre.

Sally is initially armed with just a flashlight. It lights the environment in a realistic manner and can be used indefinitely without fear of draining the battery. As the story takes place solely at night, it’s essential to use the flashlight almost constantly to get a better look at the surroundings. The in-game map is helpful too, even showing pick-up locations – Sally heals herself by using an inhaler, while battery packs can be used to destroy enemies outright with a stealth attack. A couple of hours in, the flashlight is upgraded so it can emit a strong beam, used not just to damage enemies – all of which have visible weak spots – but to charge electrical equipment too.

GYLT Xbox screenshot

This ties into the puzzle game slant. Every so often, Sally gets to take a break from crouching behind objects and avoiding patrolling enemies to solve a puzzle. These include some of the easiest ‘fuse box’ teasers of recent times, along with a handful that requires moveable ladders and boxes to be positioned correctly. Nothing too taxing, generally, which adds to the casual feel. Enemies aren’t much of a threat either. It always felt safe knowing that I had to ability to attack enemies head-on, should a confrontation arise. If in doubt, scurry into an air vent. The handful of mildly creative boss battles may require a retry, but shouldn’t challenge seasoned gamers. An attempt was at least made to make the boss battles memorable, and they’re spaced apart well too, benefiting pacing. 

The level design is one of the more interesting features. GLYT is linear, in the sense that there’s never more than one main objective and only one way to complete that goal, but the locations usually have a few side rooms to explore, extra collectables to grab, and some unexpected sights. There’s a lot of environmental storytelling on display, with the school setting allowing for a hard-to-ignore theme of bullying and the impact it has on the recipients. This theme alone is enough to give GLYT all the intrigue it needs to usher you toward its foregone conclusion.

GYLT Xbox screenshot

It’s only when GLYT enters its third and final act that it becomes apparent what Tequila Works set out to achieve here, with an underlining secondary objective only coming to light during its final moments. This, clearly, was meant to set up a second playthrough. With the game’s first half being quite contrived though – there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, almost reminiscent of a late left PS3/Xbox 360 titles at times – so I don’t know how many players will jump back in for a second trip to upside down town.

This is a competent, reasonably engaging, casual stealth adventure that may satisfy a teenage audience. Everyone else will likely feel like they’ve played GYLT before – and no, I don’t mean when it first launched on Stadia in 2019.

Tequila Works’ GLYT is out now on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and PC.