Developed by Mandragora
Published by Daedalic Entertainment
SKYHILL is set in a not-too-distant future where the world has endured a third world war and there’s still a struggle ensuing. Your character decides to stay in a fancy penthouse suite at the Skyhill Hotel whilst travelling for business. During his stay, he awakens to find that biological warfare has commenced, unleashing some crazed beasties and it just so happens that your hotel is riddled with them and you’re on the top floor of a 100 storey building. Your aim is to reach the ground floor and survive the creatures that roam the hallways.
SKYHILL is a fast paced, entertaining point-and-click survival game that employs RPG elements with turn-based strategical combat and crafting in order to make your way to safety. Much like action movies The Raid and Dredd, your aim is to clear a vast amount of floors to reach safety but each floor is riddled with both necessary items vital to your survival and enemies who wish to take your life away.
The game is structured in three blocks horizontally and 100 floors vertically. The centre block is the stairwell and elevator shaft and on either side is a room that can be entered. You do not know what is in these pitch-black rooms or stairwell hallways until you move into them and they could contain much-needed resources, enemies or nothing at all. Moving comes at a price though. Each movement through one room to another costs one hunger point and you start with a limited number of hunger points. Throughout the game you will find food items in the rooms which can be consumed to refill the hunger meter. These food items can also be combined to create more filling meals so sometimes it’s best not to eat items on their own unless absolutely necessary. Food items can only be combined in the penthouse suite. Fortunately, there’s an elevator on every floor of the Skyhill hotel which has the ability to take you up to the VIP penthouse suite whenever you fancy. Some elevators, however, are broken and cannot be used unless there is a switch box to fix it. In the cases where it’s unable to be fixed, you must travel down the stairwell until you come to a floor that has a working elevator.
As well as hunger points, your character has health points. These health points are vital to your survival and must not reach zero. If you encounter a monster or an infected person on your travels throughout the Skyhill hotel, you’ll often be forced to fight them. You can do this with your bare fists but if you’ve collected materials that can be combined to make weapons in your penthouse suite, then you can use these too. I often find myself armed with a knife and combine materials to create a mop handle. Using your melee weapon or fists, you can strike the enemy to take them down. Like your character, the enemies too have health points. You have an option to deal more specific damage to your enemies by selecting the advanced combat mode which gives you three options to strike. Thse options display the damage points that could be deducted from your enemies health and the percentage success rate of the specific attack. More often than not, the higher the potential damage, the less chance of success. You’re more likely to miss a major headshot than you are to deal damage to the limbs or body of the enemy monster. The monsters can also attack your character so you have to be strategic in how you play out the turn-based combat. If your health points reduce critically, you can restore health by using medical kits that can be found on various floors or by sleeping on the couch in the penthouse suite and converting some of your hunger points to health points.
All this sounds prety easy in theory and playing the game, it flows particularly well. However, the game may be easy to learn but certainly difficult to master! As of yet, I’ve been unable to move past the 70+ floor. Whether I accidentally misjudge my amount of health points remaining or decide to gamble on a headshot that has more of a chance of missing instead of connecting with the enemy, I cannot seem to get any further down the building on normal difficulty. However, my efforts aren’t strictly in vain. Providing I have battled monsters and levelled up enough, the game unlocks certain perks for when you inevitably die and have to restart the game. With these perks unlocked, you’re able to choose two to activate at the start of a new game: one that applies to hunger and one that applies to health. These little perks can be handy when playing the game and might give you a health boost or fully replenish your hunger meaning you can walk around more floors without eating. Even if you die and are forced to restart the game, it doesn’t take long to work your way down the floors. You just have to learn from your mistakes and be extra vigilant and strategic next time round. Though don’t be fooled into thinking everything is laid out the same – oh no. The game cleverly randomly generates maps with each new game giving you a fresh take on the survival journey every time. Sometimes you’ll find lots of items in the higher floors whilst other times you’ll find yourself face-to-face with a monster with nothing but your fists to do the talking. This mysterious and unpredictable element lends a certain intense excitement to the game that throws you into the survival head-first. You’ve no idea what’s around the corner. All you know is you must do everything to survive.
The artwork design in the game is clean and simple yet brilliant. Despite the simplicity, the monsters and infected are quite frightening and intimidating and the fights between your character and the monsters become intense as you try your best to survive and reach the ground floor as they take swipes at your with their claws or with a sharp knife.
I absolutely enjoy playing SKYHILL. It’s got so much going for it and its simple controls and mechanics make it a game that you can either play for hours on end or in short bursts whenever you’ve got a free moment. The controls are easy to understand and even if you’ve not played the game for a while, you’ll still be able to launch the game and understand what it is you need to do to attempt to complete the goal. This type of gameplay is always the addictive kind because it’s one of those that you can relax and enjoy whilst playing and the frustration of getting down to the ground floor will urge you to play the game repeatedly to get even further, much like you want to beat your high score in the older arcade games.
Available to download on Steam, SKYHILL has unlockable achievements and trading cards which act as a bonus for those who like to aim for completion in every aspect.
With my best playthrough of SKYHILL reaching around the 70th floor, I have a feeling that I’ll be revisiting this game quite a lot to try and reach the ultimate goal of the ground floor but it’s easier said than done. If you’re a better player than I though and manage to with ease, you’ll be glad to know that there are three difficulty settings, Easy – Normal – Hard, so you can constantly test yourself should Normal be a doddle.
Atmospheric and highly addictive, SKYHILL is an entertaining adventure survival game that you’ll want to play over again and again.