A Night In The Train Station With Skolios
Last week’s Krampus Kills got me in the mood for some Christmas games and movies, but as with the holiday itself, I was very quickly over the whole thing. So even though I set out to find some fun Christmas-themed horror games, I decided to take a break from Christmas just for the week. So while I was checking around Steam and Itch, I came across this weird, interesting Silent Hill-inspired RPG Maker game. Developed by indie developer Tasuva, Skolios was created in RPG Maker 2003.
Inspired by classic horror games like Silent Hill, Skolios follows Cara as she wakes up in an abandoned train station. The doors are locked, and something has seemingly taken over the building. With others trapped inside with Cara and creatures skulking in the shadows, it’s an exciting mix of old-school horror and the hide-and-seek style horror that has become more present in modern gaming.
I am always surprised by how much I enjoy the look and animation in RPG Maker games. I’m sure that comes down to my love for the eight and sixteen-bit era of gaming, explicitly SNES RPGs like Final Fantasy six or three, if your nasty, and Terrinigma. But other than the sprite work of RPG Maker, the lighting here is really fitting for a horror game. Having to rely on your flashlight to see what lurks in the shadows always makes for a terrifying time. Paying attention to shadows and corners is very important here because one hit from an enemy in Skolios and it is an immediate game over. This makes for some incredibly tense situations that overall feel satisfying when you are able to escape after a close call.
What makes Skolios interesting is the inclusion of random events. Making the game a little bit different if you decide to go for multiple playthroughs. There is also that excellent mix of puzzling and exploration that was so synonymous with survival horror games. There are also these interesting quick-time events. Some of which will change who lives and who dies. It makes for some incredibly tense time-based decision-making that had me second-guessing all my choices,
The monster and enemy design in Skilios is fantastic. They feel ripped right out of a nightmare. So when you see them barreling towards you, there is this natural instinct to want to run and hide. This is only sometimes an option. Sometimes you just have to outthink your enemies to be able to escape. There is definitely this focus on slower-paced exploration. Having to think about every move to ensure it isn’t your last. And my hats off to Tasuva, the environments in Skolios are great. Enough variation for things not to get boring, and a real focus on this weird, exciting story. I really hope Tasuva releases another game because I really enjoyed my time in Skolios. Although I do wish there had been some underlying haunting music to accompany us on our terrifying journey through this Silent Hill-esque train station.
The one thing that always surprises me in these excellent RPG maker games is not only the story. But how just utterly depressing they can be. Skolios hits all those notes. Although the ending here is not a happy one. It’s been a while since I’ve played a game that had me just sitting staring at my screen, needing to take a few moments breather to process how I felt about the journey and where we leave Cara.
Skolios deserves your time, especially if you’re into the RPG Maker aesthetic and gameplay stylings. Also, the story is good, and it’s definitely inspired by a lot of the older horror games, but specifically, there is a love for Silent Hill that comes across, and that isn’t a bad thing. So check out Skolios on Itch.io and head on over to the games website to learn more about it!