GYLT analysis, facing the bullying monster

Written by Kamran Haider

Sally is looking for her missing cousin, but after an altercation that forces her to take the cable car, her hometown will suffer a terrible change, the streets are full of monsters. We analyze GYLT, the latest work by Tequila Works.

The other day I thought about how difficult it is to transfer the great emotions of the human being to the video game, as is the case of love. Because, how to bring something so intangible to a product consisting of code and variables? How is that programmed? Although we have good examples in our industry, it is difficult to capture the essence of something that is so unique and personal. And of course, love is basically a positive feeling, but when it comes to bullying, which has a series of very hard implications and that leads to experiencing traumatic memories for those who have suffered it, the thing can be even harder.

Tequila Works wanted to approach the issue with caution. Consulting experts on the subject and, as they have told us, without offering a paternalistic vision. For this, I think they have come up with a more specific idea that has more to do with the abuser than with the abused. When touring GYLT, some of the types of bullying we find are represented by monsters that somehow symbolize such behaviors. Using physical entities to represent real problems is an attractive concept in aesthetics, but I’m not sure to what extent it manages to capture the nature of the problem. In GYLT we see creatures that, for example, have very large mouths, always smiling. The most involved player can draw a clear parallel with those mocking children, always hoping to be able to laugh at the expense of the helpless. But beyond serving as aesthetic inspiration, I have the question of whether he manages to convey what a child feels when he is teased by his classmates.

GYLT does not seek to belong to a category, but rather pecks at many of them.

It is not that I have a better solution for this challenge. A subject like bullying is too complex and each affected person feels it in very different ways. What would be the ideal way to represent it? Alternating between these supernatural scenes with more realistic ones would be an interesting notion, but it would surely create other design problems. That is why I believe that, ultimately, Tequila has done well to focus on a single reflection. Therefore, although the representation of the monsters that populate this reality is somewhat banaler, the final message prevails. And that is important.

GYLT also has a clear inspiration in the style of Stephen King. Sally is a girl looking for her missing cousin. Hanging posters throughout the town, she ends up being chased by a group and takes refuge in the cable car, where a mysterious old man receives her. When riding in it, the town does not seem to be the same and its inhabitants even less, with monstrous creatures wandering the streets and enclosures. The work not only contains direct references to King, with a small town in Maine, an abandoned mine and other literary resources but by his way of building the atmosphere of terror. As with the American writer, the whys don’t matter so much but the way that horror affects our lives and, here, specifically, Sally’s. Therefore, Tequila succeeds in setting with a less claustrophobic and more subtle terror, which leads to living the arc of the transformation of the girl rather than feel the fear of the unknown. Alan Wake said, paraphrasing King himself, that “the explanation is the antithesis of the lyric of fear.” Do not expect, therefore, explanations in GYLT, because your message is as real as the harassment on which it is

The one who fights against monsters …

What is GYLT, then? An adventure? Action? Survival horror? Probably none of the above. Miguel Paniagua, the producer of the game, said that it is simply a Tequila Works game, and that’s it. It is true that GYLT does not seek to belong to a category, but rather pecks of many of them. You have a bit of stealth, of terror, some narrative, of puzzles, in semi-open level design. Despite its dark atmosphere, it is nice to go through these levels because they always keep you attentive to discover how to make your way, and above all, without treating the player with too much condescension. Avoid, at the risk of getting lost, at all times mark the path with breadcrumbs and it is in those comings and goings, while you are solving a puzzle, when you have time to pay attention to the stage, read the messages written on the walls and be able to reflect a little more on how Sally has ended up in this situation.

Everything in GYLT is functional, which means that it serves to reinforce the message of the game, but it also does not stand out in any of its fields. Eyes that symbolize those voyeurs, who observe how someone is harassed in the schoolyard but do nothing, prevent your path here, even if they never attack you. The idea is good, only that it is repeated too much and is relegated to simple switches that you have to “activate”. Stealth is simple too, and given the ease of the game in general, it is not strictly necessary. It is easy to run around this school campus since the enemies are not very dangerous nor are they able to open doors or pass through narrow places. As if that were not enough, we have a flashlight which, pointing to specific points of each enemy, makes them disappear. Later, we will find new improvements that will help us deal with the increasingly fierce and lethal monsters.

It is a small piece, simple and to the point, with an ingenious design

GYLT is one of the few exclusive games of the Stadia service and, as such, the only way to play it is through streaming. The truth is that we have not had any problems regarding the response time of our actions. It is not the game that requires the greatest precision, but it is enough to run away or be accurate in our stealthy position and I have not had any problems in the approximately 8-10 hours That has lasted the experience. Technically, GYLT may not shine as much through the service as it is a very dark game and it is in that darkness where the compression of the Stadia signal can cause more artifacts. Although sometimes we have had a perfect, almost native image quality, others have left us with more blurry moments. It has never affected the gaming experience, but the aesthetic aspect of the play.

I think GYLT is a good reflection of the spirit of Tequila Works. It is a small piece, simple and to the point, with an ingenious design. During my visit to the studio, I thought I like the philosophy of Raúl Rubio’s team of staying small. To diversify resources in several projects at once, instead of being absorbed by the ambition of a blockbuster. Even so, I think that some more support would have helped GYLT make its light shine more intensely. That reinforces that message that the study is so clear. The symbology he uses is correct, but when dealing with a problem as complex as bullying, in which in real life you cannot run away, hide or throw a ray of light on the problem, perhaps that excessively supernatural atmosphere of the video game It could have been balanced with a more crude and realistic one. Be that as it may,

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GYLT is a game that mixes exploration, puzzles, and stealth in an atmosphere of soft terror to address the complex issue of bullying. It has a simple development, which always facilitates progress. Although he manages to represent the problems of harassment through association with real monsters, I do not know to what extent the player can realize the consequences of this very real problem.

  • Semi-open level design helps explore without guides or aids
  • Ingenious puzzles with a balanced challenge
  • Very simple in its stealth mechanics
  • The way to face the monsters is something simple

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Kamran Haider

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