Skyhill

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Title: Skyhill
Developer: Mandragora
Publisher: Klabater
Website: mandragorgames.com
Genre: Adventure & RPG
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, Mobile
Audience: M for Mature
Release Date: 26/02/2019
Price: £13.49 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

What the Developers say

World War III was an unexpected and cruel tragedy… You seemed to have a nice time, hidden in your fancy penthouse in Skyhill Hotel… Till the impact of a bio-weapon blew away the life and world you once knew.

But that was just the beginning, for now there are mutants everywhere, and they’re eager to rip you apart with their vicious claws. Unfortunately, they aren’t your only problem: your supplies are getting low. You’re forced to leave your cosy and luxurious hideout and search for food. Walking through the skyscraper is literally going through hell, dangers hide around every corner and death is a steady companion. You weren’t prepared for something like this.

From now on, all that matters is survival. And the time is running out.

Introduction

Developer Mandragora, have managed to craft a title that falls somewhere between a survival horror experience and strategy game with their title Skyhill. While not without its fair share of problems, is a title I can see some players enjoying immensely if they need a different type of rogue-like experience on the Nintendo Switch.

Skyhill takes place in a hotel known as the aptly named Skyhill. You play as Warren, a man with a shady past but nestled in the top penthouse, and your goal is to traverse all 100 floors of the hotel after a chemical bomb was dropped on the city during a conflict between warring nations. During his travels, he will need to combat mutated former residents and scavenge for food and medical supplies, all while trying to escape.

Gameplay and Replayability

It’s a cliched and straightforward setup, but the setting itself helps simplify the random generation of rooms due to the structure. Speaking of setup, the introductory cutscene does a good job of establishing the location without cramming too much exposition down your throat. While it’s all fully voice acted. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat weak in performance. Other information can be found as you explore the hotel through audio logs, notes from residents, and newspaper cuttings. Additionally, you can acquire cell phones and access PC’s which sometimes direct you to various rooms and items.

You explore the hotel by highlighting rooms and pressing a button to walk to that location. Searching rooms is performed by cycling with the shoulder buttons to specific points-of-interest. You also perform combat in this way, and it was a convoluted control method that I wish was more streamlined for console players. Skyhill was originally a mobile title, and it shows in how the controls did not translate over well.

Each movement you make in the hotel costs one point from your food meter, and if that number drops to zero, it will begin to take two points of damage from your health bar. Some food can become spoiled or be found that way and can harm you as well as give food points back, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Larger food items such as raw meat need to be taken back to your VIP suite so you can cook them effectively and prevent even worse conditions.

Fortunately, there is an elevator you can use to quickly return to your room and other floors without wasting food points. Some stories are without power which means you cannot use the elevator and the lights don’t work. This can lead to even worse conditions befalling Warren and stronger monsters that lurk in the darkness. Thankfully, you can attempt to fix the system also if you don’t have the correct tools, although while trying this you will lose food points and potentially lose an item if you fail.

Keeping your hunger at bay isn’t the only problem you have, as mutated former residents now inhabit the uninviting halls and apartments. When you encounter one of these, you are put into a basic turn-based battle system. You can select different body parts to attack with any weapons you have equipped and attacking certain areas, like the head, for instance, will dish out more damage. But, this also means that there is a greater chance you’ll miss with a lower percentage hit rate. It’s a smart risk-versus-reward system, and an unlucky or lucky hit can mean the difference between life and death.

You do have the ability to flee from combat, but if you return the enemy sometimes gets a free attack, and it should be noted that some monsters can escape as well. As you defeat monsters, you’ll eventually gain enough experience to level up, and you are then able to allocate a certain amount of skill points to certain stats. These not only raise your survivability but will also make certain weapons more effective. Trying to find a right balance is key to survival and is the only way you’ll be able to make it to the lower floors.

Looks and Sounds

The monster designs themselves fit in well with the visual style of Skyhill and are creepy in their own right. These encounters will often leave you with some damage, and you can either heal immediately using one of the various healing items acquired, or you can travel back up to your VIP suites and rest. This, however, will use food points from your food meter, and random events can occur during the rest period which can disrupt your sleep and can cause you to gain less health. It’s possible to negate this from happening by upgrading your bed to earn more health points during rest or reinforcing the VIP door to cancel out the noise.

From my experience, while you find plenty of mutated residents, there is only one other human resident still alive. If you meet him, it’s possible to trade certain items to gain something you possibly need more. Fortunately, the only time I was able to do gain anything of value was when I managed to obtain the best weapon in Skyhill from him. This would have been great early on, but by the end of your playthrough, the difficulty spike is brutal enough that it negated any effect the weapon had.

Skyhill is a rogue-like game at heart, and you will be dying multiple times. While you will lose your level and items, you unlock a multitude of passive and one-use perks. You are then able to select one of each before your next attempt to escape. Each perk does, however, have pros and cons and are most likely worth the risk to progress. Unfortunately, this brutal difficulty spike will come by the time you went through most of your useful items and equipment.

Conclusion

Overall, Skyhill is a title I’m glad I played, but I can see how it might be too frustrating in regards to item management and its rogue-like tendencies. It features some great looking graphical sprite work and melds well with the dark lighting to help build a compelling atmosphere however if you are not into rogue-likes or intense management titles than you probably won’t enjoy this. I did enjoy my time with Skyhill and had some great ideas and addictive gameplay qualities, but it just misses out on being a great game.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

You can purchase SKYHILL on the Nintendo eShop at the following link,
https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/SKYHILL-1520065.html#Overview

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