Set for release this summer, we’ve been hands-on with Sker Ritual and we have to say we’re pleasantly surprised.
We weren’t massive fans of Maid of Sker, which was disappointing as we loved its setting and premise. It was eventually enhanced and released on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles, however. And more interestingly, a range of new action-focused challenges were introduced. We wondered if those might lead to something new, and here we are with Sker Ritual: a co-op shooter with some familiar enemies and locations but gameplay that’s a far cry from its predecessor.
Let us be clear: this is not Maid of Sker 2. It’s very much its own beast, though one that tales heavy inspiration from Call of Duty: Zombies. We’re surprised it hasn’t happened sooner really; people love Call of Duty: Zombies. But there’s plenty of opportunity for the template to be improved and expanded upon.
Going hands-on with Sker Ritual, we had access to just one map, though more will be available in the full game. It didn’t take us long to discover that the small cathedral-like building we were in was just one piece of a map that that was actually rather labyrinthine. To access more of it, you simply need to approach doors to see how much it costs to open them. If you have enough cash, voila! – the deed is done. If not, you need to pump some lead into the horrors hunting you down first.
Many of the enemies here will be familiar to Maid of Sker players, especially if they’ve played the action modes on PS5, Xbox Series X/S or PC. There are some new ones added as well though, just to keep players on their toes. In the early stages, most of them are set on just charging at you like mindless zombies. It makes them fairly easy to pick off, but as their numbers increase, being swamped becomes a dangerous possibility.
Stay alive for numerous waves and you’ll start to encounter more fearsome foes that can attack you range. Some will bombard you with fire, others with searing beams of light. Thankfully you have an adequate arsenal to deal with them. A pistol is provided to you as standard, as well as a melee weapon. You also have access to Molotov cocktails and healing potions, the use of which are tiled to cooldown timers.
To be able to withstand enemy onslaughts further into a game though, when waves have started to get truly fiendish, you’re going to have to make good use of the cash you’ve earned. Locate a weapon vendor and you’ll be able to buy a more effective weapon, such as an assault rifle. Terminals are also dotted around that allow you to purchase upgrades that increase your rate of fire, for example, and make you move quicker. And let’s not forget the Miracle system that allows you to periodically obtain a number of perks.
Ultimately, simply surviving waves of enemies isn’t the goal here. Instead, it’s completing a number of objectives to drive the story forward. You might need to destroy generators found within an area, or simply reach an underground area. But it’s not always easy when the forces of darkness are acting against you. Running out of ammo is also a real possibility, though thankfully there are plenty of places to resupply. For a cost, of course.
While Sker Ritual is co-op focused, supporting up to four online players, we found it fairly fun and manageable playing alone, too. It’s challenging but it doesn’t overwhelm you. And to say the game is currently in Alpha state, it also looks and runs pretty well. With all that in mind, we’ve been left pretty impressed with it. It has lots of potential, and so now we can’t wait to get our hands on the full thing this summer and get a crack team together. Denizens of Sker: you’ve been warned.
The good news is, you don’t have to take our words for it. A demo of Sker Ritual is available as part of Steam Next Fest, so you can give it a try for yourselves. Simply visit the game’s Steam page between 13th-20th June and give it a download.