Developer Wales Interactive has become best known over the past few years for their FMV games such as Late Shift, The Bunker, and The Complex. However, they’ve also done more video gamey games as well in the past such as Don’t Knock Twice and Soul Axiom. Their latest game, Maid of Sker, is a return to the more game type game for them which is fine to me as it falls into one of my most liked genres, horror.
Maid of Sker is a first-person horror game inspired by the Welsh folklore tale of Elisabeth Williams. The tale goes that she was locked up in the Sker House by her father so that she couldn’t run off with Thomas Evans who was the man she loved. It is said that she died there due to her heart breaking and that she now remains there haunting the place. The game doesn’t follow the actual tale exactly so some changes have been made such as the game being set in 1898. You play as Thomas Evans who has received a letter from Elisabeth asking him to bring a song to the house. When you get there, you discover that the Sker Hotel is full of monstrosities stalking the place and you’ll have to avoid them to find out what exactly is going on in this place. The overall plot of the game wasn’t the most interesting to me but it did keep me interested enough to want to see it through to the end. Some of it ended up a little predictable to me but there were a few moments that I was surprised by.
Now while you are exploring this creepy hotel you’ll have to avoid those creatures I spoke of. These creatures can’t actually see but rather use sound to locate you. This means that you’ll have to be as stealthy as possible and make use of Thomas’s sound device to distract them. Sound plays a big part in this game so I recommend playing with a pair of headphones for the best experience. Being able to hear the footsteps of the enemies effectively can make remaining hidden much easier. Another sound element to keep in mind is that Thomas can hold his breath so you’ll have to do this at times while trying to not release when you’re too close to them or else they’ll hear you. The sound device I spoke of can stun enemies briefly but you only can use it sparingly. For the most part I didn’t have too many problems remaining unseen but there were a few times where I had no idea how the enemies detected me. Alas, if you are spotted, you’ll just reload and try again so not too big a deal.
I enjoyed exploring the hotel as every area is dark and haunting and gives off a genuine sense of fear. The lighting effects here really help to further make everything look great and create that great atmosphere. Lighting is so very important to me in any type of horror game and Maid of Sker does this very well. A lot of the gameplay involves you just searching around for keys in order to unlock a new path but that isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. A lot of horror type games rely on this so I’m not going to knock this one for doing it too. As for whether the game is scary or not I have to say yes and no and that’s partly its fault. The environment itself is very creepy but the game also relies a lot on jump scares. Sometimes they got me but when you use them so much they lose their effect and this game uses them too much. The enemy design themselves also aren’t that scary.
Maid of Sker is a good horror game but not quite a great one. The setting is probably the best thing about it as every part of the Sker Hotel looked great and was interesting to explore. The stealth gameplay and story are solid but nothing special and the game’s overuse of jump scares will stop working on you after a few times. Despite those things though I did enjoy my time with it and I think other horror fans will too.
*Maid of Sker is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.