Noob Reviews: Maid of Sker
This review will be based on Xbox One gameplay. Although I have attempted to avoid spoilers, there may be some included to help explain specific points.
What is Maid of Sker?
Maid of Sker is a game released in July this year across multiple platforms that is based around a series of both British and Welsh folklore tales. And novels such as The Maid of Sker by R D Blackmore which was first published in 1872.
The game itself is set around 1898 on an imaginary island called Sker at an abandoned hotel, aptly named Sker Hotel. Summoned to the hotel by his love Elisabeth who is believed to be held there against her wishes. You play the protagonist Thomas, a musician who seeks to whisk Elisabeth from her feet and rescue her from her father who wishes to keep her captive. However, what at first appears to be a tale of greed and a lust for fame, with Elisabeth's father holding her hostage and demanding she sings for his guests to make the hotel popular. Soon begins to unfold as a more sinister and Lovecraftian affair.
Whether it be sirens from another realm, servants driven to madness or enemies known as The Quiet Ones, who hunt purely by sound. Thomas must steel his resolve and face many a dimly lit corridor, puzzle and stealth-based encounter if he is to save not only his love but himself as well. But you must beware as everything from your footsteps or knocking over items, to coughing in a dusty environment, can give your position away to those that seek to do you harm.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- Official launch trailer linked from Wales Interactive’s YouTube channel -
What genre is the game?
Maid of Sker is classed as a survival horror game.
Who created Maid of Sker?
Maid of Sker was created by Wales Interactive, who you may also know for some of their other fantastic games such as Late Shift, The Complex, Don't Knock Twice and Typoman to name but a few.
How long is the game?
Maid of Sker can be comfortably finished in around five hours. However, to get all of the achievements and see every nook and cranny that the game has to offer, I would say it would be more in the seven to eight hours region - depending on difficulty and the individual's play style.
When was the game released? And what platform(s) is it available on?
What is the game's RRP?
Maid of Sker's regular retail price is around the £19.99 mark, depending on retailer and platform. Which at current conversion rates, would be $25.99.
What do you think of Maid of Sker?
Admittedly I can be a massive wuss when it comes to horror games. When it comes to horror films, haunted houses and theme parks, I love horror and embrace it with open arms. When it comes to books and graphic novels, I read as much as I can get. And yet when it comes down to games, there is just something in me that genuinely looses its cool and begins to instantly freak the moment I am unable to defend myself. Or go on the offensive against enemies in horror games. And oh boy did Maid of Sker do a lot of that.
The game not only has a fantastic story that unfolds through finding collectables, listening to the main story's dialogue and eavesdropping on conversations. But also multiple endings with both a good and bad ending. The bad ending, when I streamed Maid of Sker on Twitch, seemed to be the one most people had as the good conclusion is more a second playthrough ending as certain things need to be done throughout the game as you play to ensure you get it. Kind of like getting the good ending on a playthrough of Call of Cthulhu.
When it comes to the puzzles and the stealth throughout the game, I thought the puzzle aspect was well thought out and some of them genuinely ingenious, such as the boss battle with Elisabeth's uncle. You are unable to fight him directly but instead need to lure him to a specific room where you can utilise a large tesla coil to stun him long enough to escape - you may think 'oh, I've got this.' But as he chases your defenceless character down the corridors, bursting through walls like he was Jack Baker. That confidence soon begins to ebb away as a single well placed strike from the massive mountain of a man is enough to stagger a Nemesis let alone a simple harpist.
Although combat is a no go for the majority of the time, there is a point in the game where you receive an audio device known as a Phonic Modulator which can be used to stun The Quiet Ones. However, with such a powerful weapon the game gives you minimal ammo (that is even more limited on the higher difficulties) so you have to weigh up the pros and cons every time you use it.
I should just mention for the sake of transparency, and to give you the full picture, that although there are many fantastic elements to Maid of Sker. There are also elements to the game which could have been a little more finely polished such as the endings which still leave a few niggling questions unanswered. At certain stages, like the graveyard segment and mines, it was difficult to find your objective with no real guidance as everything looked very samey in the dull moonlight. And we had several instances of glitching into walls and cupboards.
Overall, even though I was as defenceless as a newborn, and really avoid these types of games usually. I thoroughly enjoyed this game and would highly recommend it. So much so, several fellow streamers who enjoyed watching me nervously laugh, cry and scream have also since purchased the game and streamed it to. It has a lot of excellent story elements, some solid stealth mechanics and as I mentioned the puzzles are on point. So there is a little bit of something to please many a player.
What overall rating would you give Maid of Sker?
Specific function(s): Puzzle Elements 🍌🍌🍌🍌
I would rate Maid of Sker as a solid 4.2 out of 5 bananas.
A fascinating gem that I was glad I was dared to play, whether it be running for your life through dimly lit corridors. Synchronising musical whistles to unlock puzzle shards. Or helping free friendly dogs who have their paw trapped in a bear trap. The game has so many twists, turns and surprises to it - that it has to be played to fully appreciated. This is definitely one I would highly recommend to horror fans, survival horror fans, and stealth 'em up lovers alike. Even if like me, you are generally not a horror game fan.
Thank you very much for checking out the review. I hope you enjoyed it. Admittedly, everyone has a different opinion, and all I can do is encourage you to try out this game for yourself and see what you think. For now, though, have a fantastic day and happy gaming whatever you decide to play.