Sker Ritual Review – Not that (Sker)ry

An underwhelming co-op shooter that falls short of its inspirations.

Sker Ritual Review
Overall
2.5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Sker Ritual is an underwhelming co-op horde shooter that fails to capture the thrill of its inspiration’s best moments.

Pros

  • Strong Art Direction
  • Atmospheric Levels
  • Player-Friendly Monetisation
  • Good Sound-design

Cons

  • Underwhelming Gunplay
  • Brain-dead Enemies
  • Characters Lack Personality
  • Outdated Presentation
  • Weak Combat Loop

Have you ever felt that the Zombies mode in the recent Call of Duty games has been very underwhelming? With the disappointing offerings in both Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty Vanguard, players have been left starving for an old-school zombie mode. 

For better or worse, developer Wales Interactive has done exactly that with their newest title, Sker Ritual. It is a four-player co-op FPS that tries to channel what made the zombie mode in the early Treyarch Call of Duty games so much fun. Does it succeed? Find out in my review of Sker Ritual.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Wales Interactive
  • Publisher: Wales Interactive
  • Release Date: April 18, 2024
  • Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and PC.
  • Game Length: 10 hours
  • Time Played: 12 hours

Story And Setting

Sker Ritual Story
Story. (Captured by eXputer)

Sker Ritual is set in the universe of Wales Interactive’s previous project, ‘Maid of Sker.’ While I haven’t played it myself, other people’s impressions seem to suggest that it’s a largely okay horror game with some strong moments. 

It’s a spin-off title that follows the events of the bad ending of Maid of Sker. Set in the year 1914, Elizabeth Warren has taken control of Sker Island and it’s up to you and your 3 other friends to stop her with the help of her daughter, Arianwen.  

As you solve objectives in each level, the game slowly drip-feeds you small pieces of lore to invest you into the story as well as voice lines from Arianwen. While it’s not really my kind of storytelling, especially stopping to read tidbits of lore in between fighting hordes of enemies, I understand that lore is a major part of what makes Call of Duty Zombies interesting to so many players, and those players will feel right at home with Sker Ritual.  

Even Pentagon in Call of Duty Black Ops had you blasting zombies as Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy, so it’s a sadly missed opportunity that Sker Ritual has you playing as faceless caricatures.

I do have one major problem with it though. Something that I and many others love in PvE co-op shooters is the variety of interesting characters and their banter in-between combat. Games such as Left 4 Dead 2 and the Warhammer Vermintide games have developed a strong, passionate community around their characters. 

Even Pentagon in Call of Duty Black Ops had you blasting zombies as Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy, so it’s a sadly missed opportunity that Sker Ritual has you playing as faceless caricatures. 

I also wished that each mission had a better intro to set the mood. The intro cutscene for each mission feels extremely barebones, and at times, I feel like I was playing a 7th-generation shooter. 

Gameplay

Sker Ritual Gameplay
Gameplay. (Image credit: eXputer)

In it’s basest form, Sker Ritual is a round-based horde shooter where you fight progressively more difficult sets of monsters as the waves continue. The game gives you two goals: either play and survive for as long as you can or solve objectives until you reach the final boss of each level, and they’re both stated to be viable ways to enjoy the game. Is that true? Not really. 

For context, I played the game both solo and co-op with my colleague, Mina Anwar. 

I’ll start with what impressed me. The variety in objectives. The first level I picked started simple. I had to go and destroy a few generators around a small area to proceed forward. Once that was done, my next objective was to charge a furnace by drawing a specific enemy towards it and kill it, which then led me to a puzzle where I had to use a special lantern in order to find the code to unlock a secret safe. 

I think that it’s strict adherence to its roots does Sker Ritual more harm than good.

Flaccid Boomstick

Sker Ritual Combat
Taking on a horde of enemies in Sker Ritual. (Credit: eXputer)

On the other hand, if you’re choosing to just play it like a horde shooter, Sker Ritual does have a few tricks up its sleeves to keep things intense, such as throwing in boss monsters in the middle of standard waves, but it is not enough to salvage its barely serviceable gunplay and boring combat loop. 

As someone who tried out both approaches, I found it more engaging to focus on the Objectives, though even doing that can be a pain as the objectives are often vague and confusing, leading you to just aimlessly running around the level looking for a solution. 

In these kinds of games there’s usually a catharsis to running around and blasting zombies by the dozen.

There are hints of innovation here, such as the “Miracles” that you receive from killing enemies. This is where you get to see some of its rogue-like inspirations creeping in as the miracles offer you useful boons that enhance your weapons and equipment.

It works very similar to Hades, where each boon represents a deity, and focusing more on one specific deity increases the chances of receiving more miracles from that deity. While not anything groundbreaking, I did appreciate the attempt to vary things up a bit. 

Sker Ritual Abraham
Abraham is a tough, tanky monster meant to keep you on your toes. (Image Credit: eXputer)

In these kinds of games there’s usually a catharsis to running around and blasting zombies by the dozen. Unfortunately, Sker Ritual’s lackluster gunplay fails to deliver on that kind of catharsis. What compounds this issue even further are mindless enemies that rarely ever force you into doing anything interesting other than stand at one spot and keep shooting. 

While the weapons sound good enough, especially the shotgun, the hit feedback leaves much to be desired. The game even lacks any kind of dismemberment, which is a crime for an action-horror shooter as far as I am concerned. 

Credit is given where it is due; Wales Interactive deserves much respect for how it handles monetization. The game features multiple battle passes (called the “Sker Pass”) that are all unlocked for free from the moment you start playing. In addition, the game features optional cosmetic DLC that players can purchase to support the developers. It’s a very healthy way of monetization, and I appreciate that none of it feels predatory.

Visuals And Performance

Sker Ritual Visuals
Visuals. (Image credit: eXputer)

Visually, Sker Ritual delivers strongly. While it’s not a technical marvel and doesn’t offer the striking vistas that you would see in something like Helldivers 2, its unique art direction makes the game look immensely appealing. 

Aesthetically, the game is trying to echo multiple styles simultaneously, from dingy hospital rooms straight out of Jacob’s Ladder to weapons that scream steampunk.

It combines numerous influences into a single Frankenstein’s monster, giving it a unique visual identity. Some areas feel straight out of a Lovecraft story, and rooms echo the dieselpunk identity of a post-Cold War era alternate reality. 

When it comes to performance, my experience was flawless. On a PC with RTX 4070, I was able to play the game at maxed-out settings with consistent 100+ FPS. 

Verdict

Sker Ritual Verdict
Verdict. (Credit: eXputer)

Sker Ritual is an underwhelming co-op horde shooter that fails to capture the thrill of its inspiration’s best moments. Its weak gunplay, barebones combat loop, and mindless enemies hold it back from reaching the highs of the best in its genre.

Its strict adherence to its inspirations does more harm than good. It’s a tree built upon roots that haven’t been watered in decades. As it stands, Sker Ritual is a deeply flawed but serviceable co-op shooter to play with your friends for a weekend or two.

This concludes my review of Sker Ritual. Be sure to check out other recent reviews before you go:

This is box title
Get This Game
If you miss playing Call of Duty Zombies.
Dont Get This Game
If you don’t enjoy Call of Duty Zombies.
Buy/Wait For Sale/Don't Buy
Sker Ritual is a flawed game that you’re better off getting on a good sale.

Alternative Games
  • Helldivers 2
  • Deep Rock Galactic
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Call of Duty Black Ops
  • Gunfire Reborn
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Nameer Zia is a video game News Writer on eXputer obsessed with hunting down all the latest happenings in the industry. Nameer has been gaming for more than 15 years, during which he has spent more than 3,000 hours on Overwatch 1 & 2. As a literature student, his literary chops feed into his passion for games and writing, using eXputer as the medium to deliver the latest news in the industry. Websites such as GamingBolt and IGN have also credited his works.

Experience: 4+ Years || Previously Worked At: Tech4Gamers || Education: Bachelors in English Literature.

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