Skautfold: Shrouded in Sanity | PS4 Review
Skautfold: Shrouded in Sanity, developed by Pugware and published by Red Art Games is an indie Souls-Like, survival horror game with a variety of influences involved including the original Resident Evil and Dark Souls. It is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, and for the purpose of my review I was playing the PlayStation 4 version.
Skautfold: Shrouded in Sanity is set in an alternate timeline in 1897 during the Angelic Empire of Britannia. You have been resurrected and have been given a contract where you must eliminate the source of an unnatural fog that is emanating from a place known as Berelai Manor. If you succeed in this mission you’ll be granted freedom and a new life. As you progress you’ll discover the deep, dark secrets hidden within the Manor’s estate. Very quickly you realise that there is something very wrong in the manor with staff hunting for your blood.
The game really is a mix-up between survival horror and Bloodborne, and really had a lot to offer. The gameplay loop borders on feeling like a roguelike. The Manor itself is essentially a totally open area, you have your objectives that need to be complete, but you can really explore at your own pace and tread your own path, so if you find yourself struggling you can easily farm a few levels and gather some more resources before heading towards your objective. Levelling is very important in this game; however, this comes with a cost. Levelling requires magic, so every time you level up your character, you lose a bit of your sanity. The more sanity that you lose, the more monsters spawn and the more difficult these enemies become. Each level also requires three special stones which are relatively rare, so with all these things in mind, my biggest piece of advice would be to choose your levels wisely and make every level count so that it's worth the resources used and worth the difficulty increase. I did feel intrigued by the fact that the enemies scale with your character's level unlike many other games of a similar genre, and it really transforms the challenge constantly, so I never really had a chance to become complacent with my runs through the Manor. I constantly found myself questioning every action I made and asking myself whether I could be doing something more useful with my build.
The combat is really fluid and smooth. At the beginning you're given a sword for close quarters combat, and you are also equipped with a pistol for a little bit more range. The gameplay itself was certainly incredibly challenging, and early on I realised that stamina management was going to be vital to my survival. Each attack or dodge seems to take quite a substantial chunk out of your stamina bar, so you really need to nail your timing, otherwise you’ll find yourself dying needlessly (like me!) Like any true Souls-Like, parrying is also a thing, and is a difficult thing at that. Each enemy has their own unique attack pattern, so you’ll never figure out everyone’s attack pattern immediately, and each enemy will feel challenging itself. I like that there is a diverse range of enemies to face, as it really allows the game to feel fresh throughout. One of my biggest gripes with the combat, however, was that the controls really felt like they were poorly mapped out and at first it really felt like a struggle to achieve anything due to wrong button presses because of the odd mapping choices.
As well as the fluid combat, I really liked the gothic Lovecraftian inspired art style. The world throughout is really densely packed with content and the world is really well crafted. Every new room and every locked door that you open is both an exciting and daunting experience, and there really are some truly horrific situations that you find yourself facing. The dark and gothic atmosphere really doesn’t let up at all and just continues to build throughout the game. The visuals really served towards an incredible atmosphere that I really enjoyed. The stronger I became, the weirder the experience became.
Skautfold: Shrouded in Sanity was a bit of a gem. I did find it incredibly challenging, perhaps too much at some points, so I would argue that this one isn’t so much for those looking for a casual and somewhat predictable game, however if you persevere you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful game in many respects. The challenge is very tangible and doesn’t really let up at any point, and once you think you have conquered one part of the game, you’ll find an entirely new challenge waiting for you. No, it's not perfect and there is the occasional wart, but for what it's worth, my gripes were very minor. There is such a rich world laid out for us, both visually and lore wise; the map takes a long time to begin to feel old because the level design is excellent.
Lj’s Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Many thanks to Red Art Games for the Review Key.