Skyhill is a roguelike that tasks players with making it to the bottom of a hotel after a nuclear blast. Surrounding this concept is a silly premise: An attack on our country has turned the population into bloodthirsty mutants. The protagonist, a businessman, decides to live it up for a few days in the luxurious Skyhill hotel. Unfortunately, a devastating bomb has trapped him in the VIP suite, forcing him to fight for survival. Skyhill is an experience that is easy to pick up but difficult to put down.
On the surface, Skyhill looks simple enough. You move from floor to floor, scavenging for items and attacking mutants. What makes the game so fun is that there are plenty of mechanics to make the experience more intuitive. Players must keep track of a health meter and hunger meter. Every room you enter takes away one hunger point. If your hunger meter depletes, the character will lose two health points a turn. Running out of health will result in death. Fortunately, Skyhill rewards multiple runs.
Every 10 floors will unlock two perks that players can choose from before each playthrough. There are active and passive abilities that, when used correctly through trial and error, can turn the game in your favor. I love that Skyhill tells you how to play but refuses to hold your hand. Despite knowing how to play, Skyhill kicked me when I was down. Randomly generated run-throughs kept me on edge, and the unpredictability of what the next room had in store gave me anxiety.
Some rooms contain weapons, while others have medical, food, and crafting items. Food is used to replenish your hunger meter, medical items increase health, and crafting items are used to make new weapons, improve your hotel room, and develop items to fix gears found throughout the hotel. Since the game is randomly generated, every move you make can result in a missed opportunity, valuable items, or ferocious enemies. If combat is a must, players will be thrown into an enjoyable turn-based battle system. Once a battle begins, players can target specific body parts. Attacking certain limbs will deal more damage than others. The catch is that inflicting more damage comes at the cost of accuracy. It’s a risk-reward system that sometimes requires the gamble if you want to survive.
There are also other residents in the hotel that will leave notes as to their whereabouts in the building. Finding them could yield excellent results, but on the flip side, it could be a trap with a tough enemy to battle. More often than not, I met my death after reaching the desired location.
While there is a tutorial, I thought the developers failed to properly explain all of the mechanics. In your VIP suite, there is a bed that allows you to gain health (at the expense of hunger), craft new items, and develop upgrades. The game never tells you that these places exist. Additionally, you can improve your stats after leveling up. For the first few hours of Skyhill, I had no idea that there was a menu to increase your speed, strength, dexterity, and accuracy. Once I discovered this menu, the entire experience became more accessible, fun, and I felt like I could reach the bottom of the hotel. It’s a shame that the development team left players to figure out crucial mechanics on their own.
Skyhill is a game that had me hooked to my Switch from the opening moments. There aren’t any surprises, the enemy varieties are few, and the gameplay is repetitive. But you know what? I had an absolute blast with Skyhill. Its roguelike elements leave plenty to come back to, the unpredictable nature keeps players on edge, and the gameplay is fun. Switch owners looking for a good game to play for short bursts or on the go should definitely pick up Skyhill.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89