Roguelite set in an incredibly tall hotel
Developed by Mandragora and published by Daedalic, Skyhill simply challenges the player to get out of their hotel. The problem is that you are in the penthouse on the 100th floor, your supplies are running low and the hotel is packed with mutants. If only you had a parachute…
In the game Skyhill, there has been another world war, and the final use of a bio-weapon has turned your average citizen into a blood-thirsty mutant. Fortunately, when the bio-weapon went off, your character was sitting pretty in the VIP penthouse of the Skyhill hotel, 100 floors up and benefiting from some sort of shielding from bio-hazards. Unfortunately, your supplies are running low and the only route to survival means getting down to the ground floor and leaving the hotel. Only 99 floors and a host of mutants wanting to rip you limb from limb standing between you and safety then. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Descending from floor to floor, the player will quickly notice a similarity in the layout of each individual floor. They are made up of two rooms and the central stairwell. One room stands on the left, the other on the right, and their contents are hidden until the player actually opens the doors and enters. Sometimes the door may be locked, sometimes the room may contain desperately needed equipment or supplies, and sometimes there will be a mutant waiting in the dark.
Facing off against a mutant will involve some fairly simple turn-based combat. The player can wildly swing their fists, or whatever weapon they happen to be using, or they can specifically target a certain area on the mutant for higher damage, but more risk of missing. Then the mutant has their turn and this continues until either the player or the mutant is down. Death means starting again from the beginning.
As if taking damage from mutants was not enough, the player also has to contend with hunger. The hunger gauge starts to drop as soon as the player starts moving, so a constant supply of food stuffs really is needed, or else it is death and back to the start again.
The player will find food and ingredients along their journey, as well as parts which can be crafted into better weapons. Also, there are power boxes on the floors that can be repaired to provide the player with a quick route back up to their penthouse and relative safety. In the penthouse, which acts as a hub of sorts, the player can make various upgrades to improve their situation while crafting equipment or combining ingredients into a hearty meal.
The player is also able to level up their character and increase their stats. Death may seem final, but the availability of perks that carry through from one playthrough to the next mean that even only managing a few floors may well make the next attempt that little bit easier. Perks can come with benefits and restrictions, so the player will have to choose carefully which they use.
The big problem with Skyhill is the games’ simplicity. Combat is simple, crafting is simple, leveling up is simple. The floor layouts are the same, and the different mutants available to face off against are limited. Loot drops and the placement of enemies or other factors, are all random with each playthrough, so there is very little opportunity for strategy and success is just as likely to be down to luck as any sort of skill. The early part of the game, where the player is limited by what equipment they have, is incredibly difficult and susceptible to failure through bad luck. However, as you progress and gain access to better crafting materials, things do get a little easier. It is a tough game though, and there is very little by way of replayability once the player has actually reached the end.
Skyhill is a game that has great potential, but falls flat with simplistic systems and a lack of variety. Sticking with it, and surviving, through the early floors is key to enjoying the title. But even then, Skyhill will only provide a few hours of entertainment, and with a relatively high price tag, it may be best to wait for a price reduction.