Skyhill was released on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux over a week ago on October 6th. Over the weekend I played through as much of Skyhill as I possibly could and here are my thoughts! For those interested in the general backstory and rough outline of the gameplay, I highly recommend giving my previous news piece about Skyhill a read.
Disclaimer: I contacted the publishing company for a Steam key.
Story, Gameplay, A Small Reminder
I go way more in depth in my previous article but the story for Skyhill generally concentrates on protagonist Perry Jason, a VIP Skyhill hotel guest trapped within the confines of Skyhill after the horrors of world war III have broken out (or so we think). After days locked inside his hotel and forcing his way through hunger pains, using up every resource available in his suite, it’s time to venture off outside his hotel door. Why? A man’s gotta eat, after all.
Perry explores every room in and out, scavenging for whatever resources he can get his hands on but soon discovers what the world has come to. The entire hotel is filled his grotesque, violent mutant monsters or whatever is leftover of a human being, and they’re in unexpected places. Skyhill hotel is in shambles with certain floors without power, others with broken elevator shafts. It’s just a nightmare and if Perry wants to reach the first floor, he has to upgrade his weaponry whenever possible, eat old food (with the risk of facing illness) and even risk becoming a mutant himself. But as he traverses through the 100 floors of Skyhill, his understanding of reality is called to question and what really is going on in Skyhill starts to blur more and more as time progresses.
Skyhill is procedurally generated and a lot of the loot, mutant locations, mutant types, and broken floors are actually randomized. There are RPG elements of Skyhill but they are limited to upgrading Perry Jason’s skills: Accuracy, Strength, Speed, and Dexterity. Skyhill also has a relatively sophisticated crafting system where weapons, medical kits, and various other, smaller pieces can be crafted at the workbench available in his hotel room. As the player progresses further down the floors, they are able to place additional crafting tables, beds, and cooking stations to save time and floor travel.
Conveniently, Skyhill is 100 stories high and each floor does have an elevator opening but some of them are horribly damaged or lacking power. Using their crafted and/or scavenged items, players can repair breakers which have a chain effect of power distribution to the consecutive couple of floors. By following the same process, power spread to the entirely of Skyhill itself. Players can also scale up and down different floor levels via the elevator if need be (and it definitely comes in handy).
Perry also gets by through a health bar and a hunger bar, naturally. At the core of Skyhill is survival. With every room and floor players explore, they lose one hunger point. When their hunger bar reaches zero, it takes away points from their health bar, which can make things really difficult to manage if players are in a bit of a rough spot. Luckily, though it’s randomly generated food can be plentiful if players play their cards right, especially if they utilize a cooking system to upgrade their dishes, gaining a higher food point turnout. If a player’s health is too low but have plenty of hunger bar to spare, players can sleep in their suite to add on health points in increments of 10 per hour slept.
Now, Perry’s not having a good day. He’s juggling hunger, loneliness (last human alive in this hotel? Come on!), poor health, and trying to craft weapons whenever possible to survive against these strange mutants. So, a stressed out man will need some good — no, great gear — to make it out alive. Perry has two weapon slots he can alternate which comes in handy for the different mutant-types he will encounter. In combat, players are able to aim their hits on various parts of the mutant body, particular locations offering more health loss. For a special, more painful hit, players can hit the center target and select a location to do some real damage to the mutant, which comes in handy for the more difficult ones.
Returning back to the RPG elements, the skill point distribution buff up Perry’s weaponry as he goes along. Certain skill requirements are enabled for Perry to wield particular items but once he exceeds that point minimum, it actually increases the possible damage range for said weapon.
As for the loneliness, players will uncover notes, phones, and newspaper clippings for a little bit of backstory material (and sentiment). There’s a tiny sliver of hope we’ll run into another, sane, person hanging around Skyhill’s torn floors but we just meet the mutant version of themselves.
Right, Now What are Your Thoughts?
Without giving too much away about the story, there are three possible endings (unless you want to include death). Actually, let’s include death as a fourth one. Daedalic Entertainment mentions this on their site and I agree with it. Each ending puts the story of Skyhill in a completely new perspective and some even take a M. Night Shamayamalan approach. The beauty of Skyhill is that you honestly have no idea what’s going on. Sure, at face value it seems like a simple point and survival game with minimalist art taking place in a post-apocalyptic world but it actually is more than that. It can actually be anything when you consider the different ending options. Some players may be frustrated by this; I thought it was kind of clever.
Part of Skyhill’s charm (but also a turn off for some players) is the redundancy of it. After the player becomes established with their food stash, upgraded weapons, and ability to both loot and create medkits, they’re good to go and they just need to grind through floors of exploration and turn-based combat. Some players may enjoy the process of building up and smooth sailing until the end, others may demand a greater challenge, peeved that there’s a lacking. Skyhill will not be everyone’s cup of tea but it will be some’s.
Personally, I got a real kick out of it. I had a lot of fun playing through it and lots of my playthrough was just noping the heck out of rooms certain terrifying mutants were (some were giants, man, giants). I definitely died a lot and there’s plenty of that until the player grows acquainted with the mechanics of the game but once we’re established, semi-smooth sailing. I recommend this game for people interested in just dropping an hour or two into a small survival game with a twist.
For More Information
Skyhill is developed by Mandragora but published by Daedalic Entertainment. It is available on Steam right now for Windows, Mac, and Linux for $14.99. For more information, you can check out the Daedalic Entertainment website and Facebook/Twitter pages as well.
Favorite game(s): Gone Home, Life is Strange, Back to Bed, Transistor
Non-indie: Mafia II, L.A. Noire, Dark Cloud II (Dark Chronicle), The Assassin's Creed Series (mainly Brotherhood and Black Flag)
Worked for Cliqist.com from Jan 2013 to Februrary 2014.
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