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Skyhill: Black Mist trades in towers for tactical sneakiness

The Hotel California went up-market.

There's a sequel on the way to Skyhill, the tricky modern-day roguelike about descending a monster-infested tower. Skyhill: Black Mist is trading in the two-dimensional, vertical environments of the original for a more horizontal, three-dimensional explorable space, and a striking change in art style. There's still plenty of monsters trying to murder your business-casual protagonist, although this time they're horrible mist-demons instead of slavering mutants. It's developed by Mandragora, is due out some time in autumn, and there's a debut trailer to sneak up on below.

We'll miss John. He reviewed the original Skyhill, and despite being a little simple and straightforward for his taste, he still enjoyed his time getting murdered in a big tower. The sequel looks to be a pretty big departure. Instead of being a mostly-linear dive down a single massive building, Black Mist is non-linear, allowing you to explore horizontally and vertically through multiple connected buildings. Being a more complex environment with more room to move, there's stealthy options too, which may help conserve resources. Not every enemy has to be fought. Combat, sneaking and everything else are in real-time, too.

Cover image for YouTube video

While the original Skyhill was no walk in the park (no room for parks in a demon-filled tower), I can't help but feel the trailer is leaning a little too hard into the 'You will die' message. Of course dying is a core part of any dungeon crawl, but it's (ideally) always in service of living a little longer and learning a bit more each time. It's almost like the trailer is bragging about the player being completely blindsided and becoming increasingly paranoid and error-prone with each run. Hopefully just a tonal misstep in marketing, rather than indicative of the game's actual difficulty.

There's no word yet on how much procedural generation is involved, but given that the player in the trailer seems to be repeating the same section repeatedly, trying different approaches suggests that this is a bit less of a roguelike than before. I'm curious to see how the game really works, and hope Mandragora reveal how it all works soon. For those curious about the series, there's a free demo of the original game here.

Skyhill: Black Mist is due out this autumn. No price has been announced yet, but you can find it on Steam here. It's published by Klabater.

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Dominic Tarason