When Maid of Sker was initially released by Wales Interactive last year, horror fans were treated to a survival horror game that had good atmosphere but felt a little too close to genre standards to be a real standout. Nevertheless, the game found appreciation, in part thanks to its inclusion in Xbox Games With Gold. Now, Maid of Sker is receiving a refresh thanks to a PS5 release with several updates.
Maid of Sker certainly has an interesting concept behind it. An adaptation of the Welsh ghost story of Sker House, albeit one that takes an awful lot of liberties, the player is cast as a man searching for his missing love in the Sker Hotel. Here he finds mysteries to unravel, monsters to avoid, and a feeling of unease that saw praise in Maid of Sker reviews despite other obvious limitations.
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Wales Interactive has made some noticeable improvements for the PS5 version of the game. In particular, the visuals are more impressive than the release version on old hardware, with some of its more muted visual elements feeling much more impressive. The dark, dingy hotel and its surrounding areas feel much more morbid, with a sense of decay similar to (although not on par with) Resident Evil 7.
PS5 users will also be pleased to know that Maid of Sker does make use of the console’s DualSense controller. Although not revolutionary, Maid of Sker on PS5 utilises the Dualsense’s subtle vibration well, with the player feeling each footstep that they make through the hotel. Given that Maid of Sker has such a focus on sound overall, from its music-focused story beats through to its blind enemies, it’s a design choice that intensifies the overall gameplay experience.
The core addition to the PS5 version of Maid of Sker is the inclusion of challenge modes. Tasking the player with escaping the hotel in four different setups, from a fully-loaded weapon run to a challenging hardcore mode, it adds a level of variety that was missing from the base game. It’s undoubtedly something that users will want to try out when they have completed the main story.
Otherwise, Maid of Sker is essentially the same game as before. At its core, it’s an interesting little horror game with a nice nod to historic ghost stories, but unfortunately doesn’t use this premise to full effect. This is thanks to its somewhat conservative approach, sticking far too close to the tropes of the survival horror genre with puzzle and combat design to really stand out as an exceptional title.
At the very least the inclusion of a ‘Safe’ mode might be useful for players. Not available in the initial release, this option – which removes almost all enemies to focus on atmosphere – was added as a post-release update, and it’s here in the PS5 version too. This version does feel a little empty, since Maid of Sker was designed with enemies in mind, but given that the game’s atmosphere is the strongest part of it, it’s a nice flexible addition.
It’s this versatility that makes the PS5 version of Maid of Sker worthwhile. Players who enjoyed the core game, warts and all, can turn to challenges of increasing difficulty, while others who prefer atmosphere can go through a less arduous version of its story. It still relies too heavily on horror game standards when some more originality would have helped, but as a fun, brief, and sometimes very scary venture it’s a good option.
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Maid of Sker is out now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and Nintendo Switch. Screen Rant was provided with a PS5 code for the purposes of this review.
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