Most indies games follow a familiar release pattern. PC followed by consoles, and then later on the mobile platforms. Skyhill bucks that trend and reverses the release cycle so to speak. Originally released on mobile platforms in 2015, the game has now made its way to PC and consoles this year. Is the game a good fit for the consoles, or should it have remained on mobile? Let’s find out.
Skyhill is a Rogue-Lite, 2D point and click survival game developed by Mandragora and published by Daedelic Entertainment. The original game was released on Android, iOS and PC in October 2015. The game was recently released on the PS4 and Xbox One on the 25th of October 2018.
Gameplay & Mechanic
Skyhill is a 2D point and click survival game, with Rogue-Lite elements built into it. You start the game at the top of the Skyhill Hotel and need to make your way down 100 floors of mutants/zombies infected rooms.
You start the game with a set amount of health and hunger. 2 resources that you need to manage, as you explore and make your way down. While the game ends when you lose all health, hunger depletes by one point everytime you move into a different room. All out of hunger points, the game then starts to take points off your health. So managing them while exploring is critical.
Exploration is old school point and click, and every time you enter the room, everything that you can interact with is highlighted on the screen, which makes looting pretty fast and straightforward. Mostly scavenging these rooms will result in resources for your health or hunger, weapons, and sometimes narrative based items.
While each floor is always divided into 3 sections (the staircase and 2 rooms on either side of it), everything else is randomized. So, you may not run into an enemy for 20 floors on one playthrough, while in another you may run into an enemy on the first floor and have no choice but to engage him in combat empty handed.
The combat is implemented in the trustworthy turn-based fashion with the player and the enemy taking one turn each in an attempt to reduce the other’s health to Zero. You can equip weapons that you find, and can even craft new ones, once you collect enough resources. In order to do that, however, you would have to return to your floor at the top of the building, which is not feasible especially when you are on the lower floors.
As you go down though, the elevator which connects all these floors also plays an important role, providing you with a way to fast travel between some of the floors, provided that the elevator up to that floor is working. All this resource management gives Skyhill that signature survival feel.
But it’s not all survival, and in true rogue-lite fashion, you can also upgrade your character. Exclusive to each playthrough, Skyhill will grant you experience points on every kill, which you can then distribute among your various attributes, and make you stronger as you make your way down.
You also unlock various passive and active perks as you progress through the game, which can then be activated before you start a new game, and end up providing you with an advantage (or a disadvantage) during that particular playthrough, adding variety to each iteration.
Story & Narrative
Rogue-lite games don’t need a lot of lore or context. With procedurally generated levels, such games normally don’t even need a start, a middle and a finish. Interestingly Skyhill has all of that.
Set in a post World War III time, the game revolves around you a successful businessman who has been stranded on the top floor of a hotel (the titular Skyhill), while a biological weapon attack mutated the people in town. Now hungry and out of options, you need to descend the 100 floors of the hotel making your way down to freedom.
That’s the premises, but what Skyhill also decides to do is to implement all this world building around the disaster. As you descend the stairs and explore multiple rooms, you will come across torn photos, memos, recordings and sometimes even other humans, who would add more depth to the narrative. Granted that most of those stories you encounter are apocalyptic tropes done to death, but yet they provide motivation to traverse the hotel again and again to discover all of them.
Another motivation to take multiple shots at Skyhill are the multiple endings that you can unlock. Depending on how you played the game, and the choices you made, everytime you beat the game, a new ending will be unlocked. These endings (28 in total) act both as a collectible and motivator for you to take another crack at the game.
Performance Graphics & Sound
During one of my streams of Skyhill, one of the viewers mentioned how this game would make a perfect fit for the mobile platform. Of course, he didn’t know that the game had already released on mobile, but his observation was on point. Skyhill adopts a very minimal 2D centric indie art style not different from games like This War Of Mine albeit with a splash of color.
Having said that the game, with its art direction, is successfully able to create a theme of dark somber mood, which is what the game needs. The cutscenes too, are implemented in a comic book panel like presentation which ties into the overall theme of the game. I particularly enjoyed the different way the player’s HUD changes depending on how injured and how hungry he was.
The soundtrack too is minimal and mostly focuses on creating a feeling of loneliness. The flickering of tube light, or the dead silence of a dark room, reimpose the feeling of isolation and makes you jump when something does happen on the screen.
All of this light lifting also means that there isn’t a lot going on screen, which means the game runs without any problems or glitches on the PS4. Sometimes these mobile ports can screw up big time when they move to a different architecture, but I am happy to report that Skyhill didn’t run into any issues during my multiple playthroughs.
With quick turn around times, streamlined mechanics, and an appealing art style, Skyhill is a perfect game to play for say half an hour every day. Its the perfect palette cleanser when you are between games, or just have 15 to 20 minutes to blow off before you go to sleep or leave for work. But at 1999 INR, I would recommend that you wait for a sale.