Skip to main content

Halloween Day by Day: "Maid of Sker" (X-Box One)

Back in the day, I discovered the "Point & Click Adventure" genre of games on the PC.  In fact the first game in the genre I played was "Lights Out: The Journal".  I remember playing it in a darkened room, moving through a beautifully creepy hotel searching for clues, solving puzzles, and find odds and sods that filled in the backstory of ghostly characters, and the desperate situation you found yourself in.

As game consoles became more advanced, such PC games like that sorta went out of style, and  became harder and rarer to find.

Until this month at least...

On the eve of your elopement with Elizabeth Williams, her father discovers your plans, and steals away with her to the isolated island of Sker.  He plans on forcing her to be the "Maid of Sker"- the lead singer at the Sker Hotel.

At her behest, you travel to the desolate hotel... and discover that her father's plans go further and deeper than keeping you two apart...

The story is very Victorian Gothic in nature, with a nice blend of Edgar Allan Poe, and HP Lovecraft.  It's intriguing, and the fact that it's told through your exploration, gathering of notes, and the periodic conversation with Elizabeth keeps you moving forward to discover more.  I only wish that there were more ways to interact with the surrounding- opening cupboards, desk draws, etc.  This lack of open exploration made the game feel very linear and restrictive.

I also would've like the occasional bit of internal monologue, so your character doesn't say a damn thing during the game.  He's almost as silent and "faceless" as "The Quiet Ones", you're trying to avoid.  There is nothing to create a real connection with him as he searches for his love.  Even when talking to Elizabeth, your part of the conversation is entirely text.

The game mechanics are pretty simple.  The sensitivity of the sticks is pretty twitch- you're often likely to send your character spinning in weird directions, while looking an different way.  I enjoyed the stealthy aspect of the game- but wished there was a way to tell how much noise you were making, and how much health you had, since there is no heads up display involved in the game.  An auto-save feature would also have been nice, as you can make a lot of progress, then die before you manage to find a save point... which is frustrating as hell.

While there are flaws with the protagonist, and game mechanics, the game is beautifully rendered, with an amazing musical score.  You could almost believe that you were back in late 1890's, exploring a haunted ruin of a hotel, while faceless creatures stalked you by sound.  The lighting and the sounds were just astounding and atmospheric.

"Maid of Sker" has a well crafted story, enhanced by beautiful, moody graphics, and eerie, subtle music and sound design.  It also has a pretty bland, under developed protagonist, and sometimes frustrating game mechanics.  If you were to play this game, I would actually recommend doing so on the "Safe Difficulty" setting, so you could focus more on the story, atmosphere, and effects, without being overly distracted by the "combat" and stealth elements.  A "Bad".

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#CocktailHour: Slushtail

  Summer approaches, inspiring thoughts of sunshine, backyard parties, and having a tip and sip with friends.  With that in mind, I bring you this week sunny beverage. To make a slushtail, mix a can of frozen orange juice, a can of frozen lemonade (or limeade), a can of pineapple juice, a couple cups of black tea (or English Breakfast), and two cups of bourbon- such as Southern Comfort, in a pitcher.  When it's all nicely mixed, put it in the freezer until it's a nice slushy consistency. Scoop the slush into a cocktail glass, and pour in some Sprite or 7-Up.  Add a little umbrella for some frivolous fun, and a straw. Voila!  Ready to enjoy. This is a very refreshing drink.  The fruit juices, Sprite, and bourbon- when chilled makes for a great punch-like drink.  The bourbon doesn't overwhelm juices.   In fact, they are all nicely balanced in terms of flavors.  The sourness of the citrus fruits contrasts well with the slightly sweeter Southern Comfort.  It was refreshing enou

Marcus Flor vs Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

In film, there's nothing I enjoy more than passionate creativity. Compared to the sea of mediocrity surrounding it, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is practically overflowing with it. This animated movie is vibrant, kinetic, and extremely inventive with its art style. On top of all that, this is just a solid movie. It tells its story with sincerity and tact, always focusing on the important aspects of Miles' emotional journey. The script wastes no time on pointless scenes or moments, which also gives the film an energetic rhythm that draws you in. One of the other great aspects of this movie is its reinvention of the Spider-Man story. It's clever writing demonstrates a true understanding of the webslinger, and offers commentary on the current state of his movie adaptations. In the end, you get a film both Spidey fans and non-fans can enjoy. Above all other aspects, what I like most about Spider-Verse is how fun it is. It demonstrates quality animation and filmmaking doesn

From The Basement - the "final" three

Just a gentle reminder From The Basement returns next Friday -- June 11 -- to the mighty Radio NL with an all-new episode! That's the good news. The bad news it'll be the first of our final three prime-time shows. What, you might ask? Are you bastards quitting AGAIN!?!? No. No we're not. We learned our lesson the last time. Shawn and I's long-running show will return to being "just a podcast," and not adhering to any set broadcast schedule. Why, you ask? Our lives are becoming increasingly busy outside of The Basement, and it's getting harder for Shawn and I to keep up with the latest movies, TV shows and entertainment news. We'd rather cease our weekly duties than produce an inferior product. Simple as that. Much thanks to Howie Reimer and the Radio NL crew for hosting us the last three years, first as a Friday morning segment, then as a prime-time series. It's been a blast! Don't worry, we're not coasting on these last three episodes. T