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Maid of Sker – not a sound! Review / Games


Genre Adventure
Publisher Wales Interactive
Developer Wales Interactive
Minimum Requirements Intel Core i5-4460 3.2 GHz / AMD FX-6300 3.5 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, DirectX 11 graphics card and 2 GB memory, such as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 / AMD Radeon R7 260X, 14 GB storage, Steam account
Recommended Requirements Intel Core i5-10500 3.1 GHz / AMD Ryzen 5 2600 3.4 GHz, 8 GB RAM, DirectX 11 graphics card and 4 GB memory, such as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290
release date July 28, 2020
Age qualification from 18 years old
Platforms PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Official site

Played on PC

A first-person horror adventure is a stamp that has become almost a stigma. It is worth looking at a few screenshots, familiarizing yourself with the trailer, and it is already easy to imagine your emotions from getting to know the game, so the genre has become predictable. Maid of Sker’s pre-release material, however, attracted attention: a more thoughtful stealth than the competition, a story based on Welsh folklore. The result is not altogether weak, but it is impossible to get rid of the thought that the idea was openly “not squeezed”.

Music has tied us

1898 The young composer Thomas arrives at the Sker Coast. He went on a journey after receiving a disturbing letter from his beloved Elizabeth. Maid of Sker meets with beautiful Welsh landscapes. The setting sun is literally enveloping with warm rays making their way through the trees – the picture is as if watered with honey. An abandoned but majestic hotel soon appears before your eyes.

Welcome!

Welcome!

The hotel is in fact a real-life Sker House, surrounded by horror stories about ghosts. The legend is at the heart of the song Y Ferch o’r Sker (English Maid of Sker) and the book of the same name by Richard Dodridge Blackmore (R. D. Blackmore). The play interpretation, of course, was only inspired by them, uniting works from different centuries, except perhaps the scene and the heroine, locked on the top floor of the building.

As we approach the hotel, it becomes clear that things are not going well. Despite the announcement of the imminent opening, not a soul is around, only a few empty carriages stand in front of the front gate. Those, however, are locked, so you will have to find a workaround. And getting inside, of course, will be much easier than getting out of the institution alive. Enjoy the first moments of tranquility, when you can peacefully look around and admire the pleasant Gothic interior.

Thomas manages to contact his beloved by phone – Elizabeth asks the hero to find four cylinders with special musical recordings that should not leave the walls of the house. She herself locked herself in the attic, hiding from the frightening guests of the hotel. Soon, the protagonist himself will face them. Humpbacked gentlemen with bags on their heads strive to grab Thomas and knock the whole spirit out of him. It goes without saying that it is impossible to give back, so all that remains is to hide or run away.

Who is there?

Maid of Sker is a rather intimate game, and it does it well. In fact, we have to explore several floors, the basement and the surrounding area in search of key items, along the way playing cat and mouse with local madmen. The modest size is compensated by the integrity of the world. The hotel is well-designed and hides several secrets, and all locations are logically intertwined with each other. For our convenience, a map is provided where locked doors, shortcuts and unsolved riddles are marked. Almost like in the re-releases of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. You can even save progress only manually, in special rooms with gramophone.

Stealth – the central pillar of the gameplay – is built on the absolute blindness of opponents. No, this is not a stone in the direction of artificial intelligence, but an intentional decision. They may not notice Thomas, even if they pass a centimeter from him, but the lack of vision is compensated by sensitive hearing. It is worth hitting furniture or touching the doorframe with your shoulder, as you risk drawing too much attention. There is even a dedicated button to hold your breath. But even here you should be careful – the longer you stay without oxygen, the more greedily (and loudly!) The hero will then inhale life-giving air.

Intuitively, you expect that now they will be allowed to throw utensils to distract attention, but Maid of Sker refuses to develop the idea. Literally in a couple of rooms you can find a bell or a piano that will allow you to deceive faceless psychos, and that’s all. Thomas can’t even pick up a bottle from the floor. It remains only to guess the moment when the path will be clear, and quietly slip on his haunches.

Purple smoke is hazardous to health, it is not recommended to inhale

Purple smoke is hazardous to health, it is not recommended to inhale

The only additional tool the game offers is a mysterious mechanical sphere, which, when activated, releases a powerful sound wave. If the residents of the hotel do notice you, you have the opportunity to stun them and hide. The stock of charges is limited, so use with caution.

Apart from a very modest set of mechanics, Maid of Sker sometimes likes to break his own rules. For example, one of the few riddles requires you to strike different bells in a specific order. I honestly thought that it was necessary first to somehow distract the guests, to take them to another wing, but in the end they, it turns out, ignore this ringing. So did Thomas and Elizabeth’s phone calls. It is clear that such conventions are inevitable, but it was possible to beat these moments in some way more interesting.

On one of the floors, the local analogue of Mister X from the already mentioned Resident Evil 2 wanders, who even spits on the settings set by the game. It doesn’t matter if you make sounds or not, he always knows exactly where Thomas is. And closer to the finale, they also take away the sound sphere, which introduced at least some variety to the process. It’s good that Maid of Sker is very fleeting: in four to five hours of unhurried passage you do not have time to get to the stage of irritation.

Some mysteries practically cite Resident Evil

Some mysteries practically cite Resident Evil

But you will be able to enjoy wonderful music, which is a real decoration of the project. The authors used Welsh folk songs, which gives the story a special charm. They were performed by little-known singer Tia Kalmaru with deep, goosebumping vocals. Sound design is a cut above all other aspects of the game: the hotel comes alive with all these little things: from the intense breathing behind the wall to the howl of the wind outside.

Over time, you notice more of the little things tied to sound design. For example, the creak of floorboards underfoot means that the residents of the hotel are about to notice you and it is better to freeze – then there is a chance to avoid a commotion. However, if disturbing music has turned on, it remains to urgently retreat. It is a pity that there is nowhere to hide. The easiest way is to run into the save room, which always remains a safe haven – enemies will never search it.

* * *

Maid of Sker tries to be more than a simple walking simulator, but ends up dragging its feet. The mechanics emphasize stealth, which is inferior to any Outlast, and the story and presentation are not able to surprise and captivate.

Advantages:

  • albeit small, but well-tailored game world;
  • pleasant aesthetics;
  • great sound design with a chilling soundtrack.

Disadvantages:

  • emphasis on poorly developed stealth;
  • general predictability.

Graphic arts

Not the prettiest, but not the ugliest first-person horror movie. He still has a couple of pretty landscapes in stock.

Sound

Sound design is the strongest part of the game, from the sound of the hotel itself to mesmerizing melodies with shrill vocals. You can only blame lazy dialogues, but they are almost nonexistent.

Single player game

The gameplay is based on interesting ideas that lack depth and elaboration.

Collective game

Not provided.

General impression

Another month – another indie first-person horror movie.

Rating: 6.0 / 10

More about the grading system

Video:

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