Cylne is a very odd game to be honest. Definitely one of the strangest I have played and I am not entirely sure how to describe it. It is more of an experience than a “game”.
Cylne is a surreal first-person exploration game with puzzle elements.
Important: The game contains flashing and bright lights which may not be suitable for people with photosensitive epilepsy.
According to the official Steam store page, Cylne does not impose any narrative elements; rather the worlds seem to have a common thread as you explore them. Your main goal is to reach the chapter called “The choice” which will be a reflection of your journey of the previous chapters (5 in total with 1 additional one). So in a way you create your own story as you explore the surreal worlds. Or self-revelation. It is up to you, the player to interpret the game as you see fit.
The visuals are stunning I have to admit, although the halo that appears on the screen does bother me from time to time. The halo is supposed to serve as a form of visual aid or distraction to the player. I suppose the role switches depending on what you are doing. I am not entirely sure. I found it more of an annoyance more than anything else, although it did add to the surrealism of the game.
The landscapes and abstract architecture were wonderful to explore, and at times a little disconcerting. You can glide, walk and float based on the environment throughout the 5 chapters. Each chapter as I mentioned earlier is supposed to have a theme that is symbolically represented throughout.
The music, I had issues with. While the soundtrack was emotional and added greatly to the atmosphere of the game, the volume left a lot to be desired. The volume had caught me off-guard with how loud it was, especially with headphones on. Despite adjusting the volume, the game still felt really loud to me and induced a migraine (a pretty good one too). Having the volume at the lowest volume possible was the only way I could play through the game without becoming death and avoiding a migraine.
The puzzles are…interesting element to include especially for a game where you are desperate to search for meaning or sense behind it all. The puzzles are solved using both visual (from your halo) and environmental cues. It reminds me of Kairo in a way with the abstract worlds and puzzles, with no clear story. As such, the game is to be seen as an experience.
Nevertheless, all five chapters have you doing little more than exploring the landscapes. In the first chapter however, you see massive boulders decorated with glyphs and seeing floating doorframes suggests portals to other worlds. You only know you have progressed when you walk into or look at certain objects which cause either the surrounding environment to change or transported to a new area.
I was not aware till now that Cylne was developed by just one person (who goes by the same name). The amount of work put into the game can clearly be seen ranging from the music and sound effects to the graphics, then finally programming.
I never did complete all the chapters, much less reach the ‘choice’ chapter. I did not mind exploring the landscapes but getting stuck in some of the chapters with no idea how to progress any further was not fun. Especially in the optional chapter inspired by the Greek myth of Prometheus. I had no idea how to proceed any further once I got stuck. It has potential however. I enjoyed the exploration aspect greatly.
For those interested in giving this game a try, there is a demo of the first chapter that is available for download.