E3 2015: Skyhill Hands-on PreviewWe check out Daedelic's latest.06.17.15 - 8:47 PM
As soon as the doors to E3 2015 opened on Tuesday morning, I made my yearly pilgrimage to Daedalic Entertainment's booth. During said visit, I spent a few minutes playing Mandragora Team's roguelike hotel/end-of-the-world simulator Skyhill. Most immediately apparent were the stylish Batman: The Animated Series-esque visuals full of sharp angles and flat-yet-expressive colors. While the game doesn't appear to have much emphasis on story, it frames its action with the story of a rich someone-or-other staying in the uppermost room of the chic Skyhill hotel. I'm not sure on the details, but at some point World War III erupts, with opposing sides battling via viral warfare, affecting everyone outside of the safety of the guests' penthouse and turning them into hideous monsters.
It's all mostly a reason to start you off at the top of the hotel a few weeks later, slowly running out of food and options and forced to leave the relative safety of the penthouse. What follows is roguelike in its inspirations, with a randomized 100-floor hotel to slowly descend. As you make your way down, you'll encounter monsters, weapons, food, and a variety of story-establishing documents. Each room your character passes through depletes an ever-present food meter, and each bludgeoning from the mutated monsters has a similarly unfortunate effect on your health. Managing your limited food and medicine supplies seems to make up the crux of the gameplay, with deeper and deeper forays into the hotel depths becoming possible as you hoard your supplies and find better makeshift weapons. Combat encounters are simple turn-based affairs, though you're able to target specific areas of the enemy to strategic effect. Choosing whether to risk missing a critical hit to the head, safely landing a weaker hit on the body, or knocking the legs out from beneath a marauding beastie does make for an entertaining, if basic, affair. Chop through enough enemies and you'll gain a level, affording the choice of distributing points into four basic stats.
As you gather components to repair lights and elevators (which quickly zip you back to the safety of the penthouse), you'll be able to upgrade your facilities. Some of the options I spied included better beds that made resting heal more and generate less hunger, reinforced doors to boost the security of your room, and a couple of enhanced crafting tables.
I enjoyed my time with Skyhill, which had a relatively simple but well-executed premise. As a roguelike, it might not please hardcore fans looking for huge amounts of depth or complexity (at least, based on what I saw), but I had enough fun that I was itching to play more after my limited demo time was up. If you're interested in this one, you can look out for it on October 6, 2015.