The horror queen reviews are back! This time, we’re going to talk about Maid of Sker, which released back in late July. Yes, I know I’m late to the party but I’m here now! Maid of Sker comes to us from indie developers Wales Interactive. Wales Interactive has a varied, extensive list of releases across pc/console and mobile, including other horror games. One of their selling points for this particular game was their writing team. The plot was crafted by people “behind the likes of” SOMA, Don’t Knock Twice and Battlefield 1. Quote taken directly from Wales Interactive website.
So, what is Maid of Sker?
Maid of Sker is a survival horror game set in 1898, in the remote Sker Hotel, surrounded by deep woodlands. In first-person, we play as Thomas Evans, who has received a letter from his lover asking him to come to the hotel. (Silent Hill vibes anyone?) The hotel has a history filled with the macabre and gore, taken from British folklore. The story is inspired by the tale of Elisabeth Williams. This is a haunting Welsh tale of a family empire driven by all kinds of nasty. Torture? Yup, they do it! Slavery? You bet they do it! Piracy? Why not?! There’s even a supernatural mystery surrounding the land. The game also re-imagines famous Welsh hymns Calon Lân (A Pure Heart), Suo-Gân (Welsh Lullaby) and Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through the Night).
Let’s get techy
There is no other way for me to say this. The default controls on PC SUCK. This was actually the first time I have ever had to majorly change around key-bindings. The controls are pretty much split between the opposite sides of the keyboard. Mouse usage is also essential here. It just did not work for me. If you’re playing with a controller, you’re more than likely going to have a better time of things here. But for me? Nope. I had to rebind half of the controls.
Graphically speaking, the setting is STUNNING. Exterior wise, at least. The hotel itself is a tad basic. Think of your relatively generic horror hotel, maybe some places to move around in the walls. Oh, and don’t forget the creepy basement. However, step outside and it’s a different ballgame. The surrounding woodlands area is really beautifully designed, the trees fit the setting so nicely and the areas with water look awesome. Plus the graveyard area is oddly pretty too. This is something that also fits with the time period of the game too. At least within the perimeters of the horror genre.
Character design really has to be noted here. There isn’t a whole lot to say about the likes of our protagonist, but the enemies are pretty neat. Now, there are massive A Quiet Place vibes here. The creatures are blind, and use audio keys to hunt. Personally, I’m bored with that design. However, the physical design is pretty cool. That’s what I want to hone in on. These creatures are the same size as a regular adult, however, they are essentially faceless. The best way to describe their faces is like a burlap sack but attached. They also move very fast, which is unsettling if Thomas coughs. The likes of doors opening don’t bother them, but walking and coughing noises will.
What about Sker’s story?
I’ll hold my hands up and say I know nothing about the folklore Maid of Sker draws inspiration from. For me, my folklore interests mostly lay with Greek mythology and that kind of thing. So, I can’t comment on that aspect of the game’s story. However, I can look at it from the horror queen standpoint. Gothic horror always has this really nice vibe to it, especially when done right. Maid of Sker definitely did a good job on that front. In a way, it reminds me of The Woman in Black. I personally enjoy both versions of the movie but struggled to get into the book. NOT RELEVANT! But it has a very similar vibe with the setting.
The main objective throughout is to collect 4 musical cylinders and play them to subdue the creatures. Along the way, naturally, there are other little tidbits to do and there are collectables along the way. Although the game is on the shorter side, I personally found the story to move a bit too slow for my liking. That is just my personal experience, I like my horrors to move a little faster. To move a bit more gradually. Don’t get me wrong, the story is intriguing and well worth going through. There are just a couple of areas where a corridor could have been shortened slightly, little things like that.
Final thoughts for Maid of Sker?
Maid of Sker is definitely one of the better horror games I’ve played recently (Nothing will top Those Who Remain though). Still, it is a step up. Overall, we’ve got a game with a great atmosphere and an interesting story. For me, it does leave a bit to be desired in terms of development, but I won’t judge too harshly for that. Maid of Sker is a nice change from the usual horror games we get and is definitely well work a playthrough. Multiple if you’re an achievement hunter, the general consensus there seems to be about three playthroughs in full.
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