Maid of Sker: A Survival Horror Game Inspired by Welsh Folklore
Maid of Sker is a first-person survival horror game developed and published by Wales Interactive. The game was released on 28 July 2020 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and on 26 November 2020 for Nintendo Switch. The game is set in 1898 in the Sker Hotel, on an imaginary island called Sker Island. The protagonist, Thomas Evans, is invited by his lover, Elisabeth Williams, to uncover the mysteries of the hotel after she notices her family’s strange behavior.
The game draws inspiration from several Welsh and British folklore tales, such as The Maid of Sker, a three-volume novel written by R. D. Blackmore in 1872, and Y Ferch o’r Sger, a Welsh ballad that tells the story of a young woman who was locked away by her father to prevent her from eloping with her lover. The game also features Welsh hymns sung by Elisabeth Williams, such as Calon LÃ¢n and Suo GÃ¢n.
The gameplay of Maid of Sker revolves around stealth and evasion, as Thomas has to avoid the hotel’s blind enemies known as “The Quiet Ones”, who can track him down by the noise he makes. Thomas has to hold his breath, avoid coughing or rustling objects, and use a device called the Phonic Modulator to stun the enemies with sound waves. The game has been compared to Outlast, The Evil Within 2, and Silent Hill.
Maid of Sker received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the visuals and plot but criticized the gameplay mechanics and enemy AI. A spiritual successor, titled Sker Ritual, is scheduled to launch in 2023 for Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.
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The story of Maid of Sker is told through notes and gramophone records that Thomas finds throughout the hotel. He learns that Elisabeth’s family, the Williams, have a dark and twisted history that involves a cult called “The Quiet Ones”, who worship a mysterious entity called “The Song of Sker”. The cult members wear masks that cover their eyes and ears, and use a ritual called “The Harvest” to sacrifice people to their god. Elisabeth’s father, Isaac Williams, is the leader of the cult and wants to use his daughter as the final sacrifice.
Thomas has to explore the hotel and its surroundings, such as the gardens, the chapel, the basement, and the lighthouse. He has to solve puzzles, find keys, and collect items that can help him progress. He also has to deal with various threats, such as traps, fire, gas, and water. The game features multiple endings depending on the player’s choices and actions throughout the game.
Maid of Sker is one of the few horror games that feature Welsh culture and language. The game’s title is pronounced “sk-air”, which means “rock” in Welsh. The game’s soundtrack consists of Welsh hymns sung by Tia Kalmaru, who voices Elisabeth Williams. The game also features Welsh voice actors for some of the characters, such as Mark Lewis Jones as Isaac Williams and Aneurin Barnard as Thomas Evans.