Maid of Sker is a stealth based first person survival horror from developers Wales Interactive. The player take on the role of Thomas, who ventures to Sker Island in what appears to be sometime around. 1897. Thomas is summoned via letter by his love, Elizabeth and has to explore and understand the happenings at the Sker Hotel. This sets the scene for the dark adventure ahead.
The game starts off by offering players four difficulties and, even as a horror game Maid of Sker offers one for the players who are just there to enjoy the story. This is a positive, as it opens up the game to those new too the survival horror genre or other who want to experience the Maid of Sker with less concern on its difficulty. Those that take the safe option for the game will need to beware that you are restricted to what achievements you can earn, as some are based around the survival aspects of the game.
Maid of Sker is a survival horror title that has the player survive using their wits and by sneaking around to avoid making any sound and alerting its enemies. These enemies are blind and detect the player through sounds made by Thomas. This includes bumping into things, coughing and even the squeaking of the environment caused by player movement. The only options at the player’s disposal are holding Thomas’s breath or a device known as a Phonic Modulator that emits a shockwave to disrupt the enemies’ ability to detect the player. Even with these options, sometimes it feels like that there is no escape, as the blind AI can pick out Thomas from basically no where. Anything can cause the player to be detected, so stealth and minimising noise is the key aspect of this game.
On top of the constant need to sneak around, the game sees the player searching for clues, solving puzzles and escaping the clutches of the enemy in an attempt to complete the story. Maid of Sker does offer players a choice that will deliver an alternate ending, so thinking things through is required.
As with most of these games, immersion is key and Maid of Sker is definitely best played if you fully immerse yourself in the game with headphones. Audio cues are not just important in this game, they are pretty much there is to guide and alert the player to what is happening within their vicinity. There is no HUD or visual indications and it is the audio cues from the enemies and those from the player that allow the player to identify when they are likely to be, or have been detected. It is also these sounds that will make or break each play through and this is how the game is best played, alone and in a dark room with headphones on.
An annoying thing on the audio side is that Thomas doesn’t have a voice. There is no internal monologue, no reaction to the story scattered within the hotel and only written responses to his discussions with Elizabeth and considering audio plays a major part in this, it would have been nice for him to have a voice.
Maid of Sker is definitely not a game for children, especially if you want them to sleep at night and not worry about what lurks in the halls. It also only offer solo play so do not expect to be taking anyone along to protect you either.
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6 – Above average – As stated, this game is above average. The game provides a solid experience while not delivering anything outstanding. It’s a game that fans of the series will definitely enjoy but one that others may want to wait for a sale.
Maid of Sker was reviewed on an Xbox One X. It is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC. It is currently a part of Xbox Games with Gold.