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Maid Of Sker

Posted by GG Goblin On August - 12 - 2020

Maid of Sker, made to scare.

 
The survival horror genre is awash with interesting stories, largely revolving around creepy locations. However, there is something really special about a game that is actually based on real folklore and a real place. Wales Interactive’s Maid of Sker is based on an actual Welsh ghost story and will have the player trying to survive Sker Hotel, which itself is based on the real Sker House. With all of that history and legend backing the game’s story up, it will likely come as no surprise to hear that the location and the tale that revolves around it are the real stars of the show here.

 


 
Maid of Sker is set in 1898, and the player will take on the role of Thomas Evans. The woman he loves, Elisabeth, is being held against her will at Sker Hotel by her father, who has his own nefarious reasons for doing so, and so Thomas obviously takes it upon himself to travel to the hotel and rescue his beloved. The story continues to unveil as the player progresses, through phone conversations with Elisabeth and various other lore found throughout the building and grounds. It is a really interesting tale, packed with evil intentions, madness and a little touch of the supernatural, and the player is stuck right in the middle of it, in a most incredible location.

 
Despite the assumed grand opening of the hotel, by the time Thomas arrives it is obvious that something has gone terribly wrong. Stepping into the hotel, the player is struck by the beauty of the building, while also being very aware of the decay that seems to be taking over. It is very much the type of game that players will be able to explore and remember different features, using these memories to navigate through the myriad rooms. Many doors will be locked, teasing potential locations for later in the game. The game expands to the outside grounds, which are equally as impressive and well designed, albeit slightly more difficult to negotiate. Visually, Maid of Sker doesn’t disappoint, and Sker Hotel is an impressively detailed and creepy location.

 
Further emphasising the quality of the game, the audio plays an important role. The voice work is impressive, but it is the locational sound effects, which play a part in the gameplay, that are all important. Maid of Sker is best played with a headset, simply because the player has to pay attention to the sounds they hear, both for direction and to stay alive.

 


 
The gameplay revolves largely around creeping through the house and avoiding the threats within, most of which come from The Quiet Ones. These former employees are now blind and will quickly come for the player if they hear them. To this end, the player will have to move around quietly and avoid them where possible. If the player needs to pass close to one of the Quiet Ones, or if they come to close to the player, Thomas is able to hold his breath in order to not be heard. The problem is that the longer the player holds their breath for, the louder the inhale when they stop. Also, some areas will have heavy dust in the air, making Thomas even louder, raising the threat.

 
Unlike many games of this type, in which the player is helpless against the threat, there is no option to hide anywhere, and so being detected will mostly mean running away and trying to reach a safe room. There is a gadget that the player can find later in the game, which gives the ability to freeze the enemies for a short time, but the charges required to operate the gadget are few and far between.

 
While the Quiet Ones are tricky adversaries, there is a Nemesis style beast that can cause far more problems. This man-monster will stubbornly keep on pursuing Thomas through certain parts of the building, instantly knowing where Thomas is. If he catches up with Thomas, then it is game over. So, the player can only flee, which is not too difficult as the beast only moves at a steady pace, but things become trickier if it means moving quickly past Quiet Ones.

 
When the player is not avoiding enemies and keeping quiet, they will be searching for objects and solving the occasional puzzle. There is nothing too difficult here as such, it is just that everything is made more difficult by the potential of being discovered. The only real problem with Maid of Sker comes from not really being able to tell how close Thomas can get to the Quiet Ones without being detected, leading to some frustration.

 


 
The gameplay in Maid of Sker is simple and easy to understand, which may turn off some of the more hardcore survival horror fans out there. However, not knowing when being heard will lead to pursuit, worrying about what is on the other side of a door, and the general atmosphere of the hotel and its grounds, leads to a very tense experience. Add to this a great location and story, and Maid of Sker becomes quite easy to recommend. A well made game that, while not especially long, should be experienced by anyone who enjoys survival horror.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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