Horror has had its formulation through the years. The essential buildings from which the great, the good, and the remaining are constructed from. On the floor, slashers are the identical, survival horrors are all kindred spirits, and ghost tales attempt to spook you in roughly the identical manner.
That, after all, is massively over-simplifying issues as a result of the satan is within the particulars. You may spin many, many various sorts of yarn from the identical wheel.
Take Maid of Sker, for instance. It’s the newest in a protracted line of contemporary first-person horror video games (often set in massive buildings the place you should uncover their seedy historical past) that go away you comparatively defenseless towards stalking enemies. Having that construction is clearly a winner or it wouldn’t be repeated so usually, however it’s important to have some mixture of concepts of your personal to distinguish from not solely the standout examples, but in addition the painfully plain makes an attempt. So whereas Maid of Sker is one other first-person horror sport set in an outdated sinister constructing the place you’re hunted by murderous issues, it undoubtedly does have one thing of its personal too. Whether or not that is sufficient to make it a great sport is one other query altogether.
Firstly, the story. Maid of Sker is predicated on Welsh folklore, particularly the story of Elizabeth Williams and RD Blackmore’s three-part story. That gives an fascinating departure from the present style glut of cosmic horror tales and Texas Chainsaw fanfics. As an alternative, there’s a delightfully British really feel to the environment, the environment, and the horror itself. It’s a narrative of a household with a darkish previous, as its legacy is considered one of slavery, piracy, and homicide. That previous actually seems to have come again to hang-out its present era on the grounds of a secluded lodge on the Welsh Coast.
Earlier than you get to the lodge, the place the protagonist is searching for a reunion with a liked one, there’s a little bit of touring to do after you arrive on the quaint and quiet practice station and set off up a winding forest street in the direction of your vacation spot. There’s a chilled picturesque attraction to this brief stroll, with the visible type making the surroundings seem like one thing from a portray. The nice and cozy and hazy glow of the solar, the light swoosh of wind by means of the timber, it’s the proper method to arrange the horrors you’ll quickly face. A serene stroll by means of a wonderful place earlier than the grim and dreary depth of the dilapidated lodge. The intro is inarguably probably the most gorgeous-looking a part of a sport that’s in any other case pretty normal, visually-speaking.
Upon coming into the lodge it’s clear it’s somewhat uncared for regardless of claims of a grand re-opening, and there’s no person to greet you upon your arrival. After a little bit of wandering, one other particular person is found, or not less than their voice behind a locked door, however it’s quickly silenced by one thing or somebody that they appear awfully terrified by. It’s not lengthy earlier than you discover out that the risk is a cult referred to as The Quiet Ones, and the sport of cat and mouse begins in earnest.
Maid of Sker leaves you largely defenseless towards these unusual and violent folks, and as such, is just about a stealth-based horror. The sport has a somewhat good 3D audio system which means the enemy, who depend on sound to trace you, will know the place a noise is coming from virtually precisely. Knocked over a bucket? Greatest hope you both have someplace to cover or someplace to run as a result of they may discover you in case you stick round.
The defenses you do have are easy ones. Holding your breath is a key mechanic in your persevering with survival, and utilizing noise to your benefit may also help you slip by sure foes unnoticed, however when all else fails you do have one final trick up your sleeve within the type of a sonic gadget that emits a din not finest acquired by the Quiet Ones. It’s not one thing that can be utilized freely nevertheless, so it must be dealt with with care.
The chase is the place Maid of Sker must succeed most. For all its Gothic British horror attraction, it wouldn’t be an efficient horror sport with out creating the required rigidity, concern, and panic of being hunted. For probably the most half, it does a great job. There’s a real sense of dread permeating each new encounter, and whereas the sound mechanic could be a bit disorientating and irritating at first, studying its guidelines does make it look like you’re turning the tables in your foes in real-time.
Sound actually is Maid of Sker’s key promoting level. With a funds probably far smaller than that of one thing like Resident Evil 7, it implements it neatly. Each floorboard creak, each clunking footstep, and every shaky breath you are taking provides to the rising uneasy environment of the lodge. No less than for some time anyway.
In the direction of the tip of Maid of Sker, issues get monotonous and the story’s conclusion isn’t particularly satisfying or all that distinctive. A lot is put into increase issues within the opening hours, and there’s not all that a lot left to say after that as the entire thing runs out of steam. Frustration grows once more as stealth turns into more and more exhausting to do and punishment appears much less truthful.
Nonetheless, whereas it lasts, there’s a fairly good dose of first-person horror. The folklore background, interval setting, and a few hauntingly lovely renditions of Welsh hymns add some taste to a well-worn method. The lodge’s nautical historical past and ornament additionally present a little bit of persona to the in any other case dreary halls. How you are taking to the stealth will decide how a lot you get on board with the sport, as its peak is comparatively small contemplating its liberal use.
Whereas it is probably not probably the most unique horror institution on the market, I might consider worse locations to go to than the Sker Lodge proper now.
Maid of Sker evaluation code for PS4 supplied by the writer.
Maid of Sker is out now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.