Reviews - Updated on April 7, 2022

The original Skyhill lacked stars from the sky, but it turned out to be commercially successful: thanks to its conceptual simplicity, it was ported to all available platforms, including mobile ones, and according to SteamSpy, more than 100 thousand copies were sold on Steam alone. Evgeny Kisterev, the game’s author and founder of the Mandragora studio, explains this achievement as follows: the game’s controls were simple enough that it could attract an audience unfamiliar with survival horror. And now, he adds, the team wants to make a more complex game for these people. That is why it was called Black Mist and not Skyhill 2 – so that it was perceived as something completely different.

Sky(ribbon) Hill

Skyhill: Black Mist is really unlike its predecessor. The first part was a “bagel” with a side view, where the player, descending down the skyscraper, methodically cleared the floors. New – isometric stealth adventure, where there are much more degrees of freedom. Previously, monsters blocked the passages and skirmishes with them were mandatory – now the game teaches you not to catch the eyes of the creatures and avoid battles at all costs. In the original, the nightmare was localized in a tall but narrow building – in the new part, the forces of evil captured a huge residential complex with shops, a cinema, a school and a parking lot. The scale of the project has grown many times – the number of developers has increased accordingly.

The gameplay of the new Skyhill is a horror metroidvania lasting about 12 hours. Death here, unlike the first part, does not reset progress: the game, saving all the collected resources in the inventory, moves you to the checkpoint, from where you start moving towards the goal again, and not necessarily in the same way. Find an ax – you can break wooden barricades and thus open up new areas for exploration. Get the tools – a passage to the ventilation will open. And so on, in accordance with the canons of the genre.

Skyhill: Black Mist game previewThe map of the residential complex – a skyscraper in the center and low buildings radiating from it – resembles the never-realized Crystal Island project. Looking for references to real Moscow architecture in local buildings, however, is pointless: the game takes place in an alternative universe.

You can’t hide from me

Monsters in Skyhill: Black Mist are found everywhere and never stop being dangerous. You have few weapons, so you will have to run and hide much more often than engage in battle. Invulnerable bosses cause even more problems: they, like Mister X from Resident Evil 2, now and then “spawn” somewhere nearby and look for you. If normal enemies can still be shot or slaughtered (although there are usually no resources for this), then there is only one tactic against bosses: drop everything and rush to cover.

Where and when an unkillable enemy will appear next time is not known in advance: the random number generator adds tension. I asked Evgeny if the players would consider this approach unfair. They shouldn’t, he told me: such a system teaches the player to notice the details of the environment so that he always keeps in mind the location of the nearest safe place.

Approaches to creating fear are exactly what the new Skyhill has in common with the old one. The monsters in Black Mist are similar in appearance to the phantoms from Prey and almost do not cause rejection – the prospect of falling into their clutches is much more terrifying. The first part frightened me with the inevitability of encounters with enemies and the inability to predict the outcome of battles: everything depended on the virtual cube. The second part in the same way seeks to cause the player incessant anxiety.

Skyhill: Black Mist game preview

The main occupation of the player in Skyhill: Black Mist is to maneuver between enemy cones of vision (they appear when the protagonist crouches). Enemies can be lured into mines and traps, but this is a luxury: much more often you have to distract monsters with bottle throws.

Apology notes

The authors of the game claim that during development they did not focus on specific works and were inspired by everything. So it is: considering the components of the game separately, it is easy to draw parallels with something already seen, but if you analyze the gaming experience as a whole, then it will not be so easy to find an analogue for it. In terms of gameplay, the game is perhaps the closest to both parts of The Evil Within, only the mechanics are smaller in it. The plot (the main character is looking for the missing daughter, while the world around him is being transformed) is reminiscent of the first Silent Hill. The culprit of what is happening, the wealthy corporation Skyhill Inc., is definitely a competitor to Umbrella from Resident Evil.

Much of the game’s story is told through notes profusely scattered around the residential complex. I asked the developers why they chose this approach: it takes it out of context, weakening the immersion in the game world. “Because we have a lot of text in the game,” they answered me. – Notes – this is the cheapest way to submit it, we can not afford others. We understand that many gamers ignore the notes, but isn’t it interesting to find out where the fog came from and what happened to the inhabitants? Three writers worked on the texts in our game. We have a lot to say.”

Skyhill: Black Mist game preview

Another question that the game will surely answer is: what happened to these rooms and why do they look like this? Their appearance, I was told, was inspired by the TV series Stranger Things. Enemies in these zones do not appear from the very beginning of the game, so being there until some time is perceived as a respite.


The development of Skyhill: Black Mist is nearing completion: the Mandragora studio promises that in 2020 the game will be released on all current platforms, including the Nintendo Switch. Ports to mobile phones this time are not worth waiting for: the game works in real time, and the mechanic has become too much for touchscreen control to be comfortable.

The foundation of the game is already ready: now the developers, according to them, are polishing, correcting bugs and reworking the interface. It remains only to wish them success: the project looks interesting.

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