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Video Game / Skyland 1976

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Skyland 1976 is a 3D first-person Survival Horror game, developed by indie developer Simon CLAVEL and released for PC through Steam on November 17th, 2019.

On October 15th, 1976, Simon Hopper's sister, Alice, vanished under mysterious circumstances in the forest of Grayson, Massachusetts. An investigation was conducted, but it was quickly dismissed by the prosecutor without any justification.

Simon suspects that Skyland, a top secret government research facility near the forest, might have had something to do with it. He devoted his life from that moment forward to uncovering the truth behind her disappearance. Fifteen years pass, and Simon's investigation gets him nowhere...

Until October 15th, 1991, the fifteenth anniversary of his sister's disappearance.

Simon heads into Skyland, determined to once and for all get to the bottom of it.

No relationship to the French-Canadian CGI animated series Skyland or the Hidden Object Game Skyland: Heart of the Mountain.

Skyland 1976 contains examples of:

  • The '90s: The game is set on October 15th, 1991.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: You'll need to crawl through a vent at roughly a midway point in the story. It carries none of the noise or other realistic discomforts with it.
  • All for Nothing: In the time period the game takes place, the Soviet Union is only months away from collapsing, making all the unethical experimentation occuring at Skyland to win the Cold War completely pointless.
  • Apocalyptic Log: In the base, there is a set of notes by an officer who documents how he, and his men, are slowly becoming zombified, and who commits suicide right as you are about to enter his office.
  • Black Site: Skyland, the setting of the game. It was constructed in The '50s to prepare for the Cold War.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Downplayed; the enemies universally require multiple headshots from a revolver to go down.
  • Cassette Craze: It's 1991 so cassettes are all the rage. For Simon in particular, they act as checkpoints.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: A newspaper article written soon after Alice's disappearance quotes the locals' opinions on the case, concluding with a villager firmly convinced that Alice was abducted by the aliens.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Towards the end of the game you confront James Bennett, the Soviet double agent responsible for releasing the zombie gas across Skyland. He runs around with a shotgun and can take quite a lot of bullets to put down.
  • Dirty Communists: Towards the end of the game, Soviet soldiers in hazmat suits sent to infiltrate the base start showing up and attacking you. Unlike the pipe-wielding zombies, they're equipped with assault rifles.
  • Downer Ending: Not only was the entire game a hallucination by Simon, a hospital mental patient, but the violence of his escape attempt causes the hospital to decide to put him into a permanent chemically induced stupor.
  • Enter Solution Here: There are a number of keypads in the game that require a code to bypass them.
  • First-Person Ghost: Simon is literally a floating camera up until he gets a gun. The game starts off with him picking mushrooms in the forest where Alice originally disappeared, which is done by simply clicking on them, and watching them disappear into the inventory.
  • Gas Mask Mook: The site has its share of folks in gas masks.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: A particularly egregious example: The last officer still alive and sane at Skyland commits suicide literally right as you are about to enter his office. Though, his notes clearly indicate that he would have had soon turned into a zombie like all of the others had he not committed suicide.
  • Hazmat Suit: Many of the Skyland personnel wear hazmat suits of various colors, complete with gas masks. Nevertheless, those suits still didn't save them from becoming zombified, though that's likely because they were slowly exposed to the zombie gas over the course of a couple weeks, rather than a sudden outbreak.
  • Implacable Man: One particular zombie, the first one you encounter and referred to by Simon as the "gas mask wearing psycho", cannot be killed with weapons and must be evaded at several points in the game. The ending reveals this is actually Simon's doctor, who's been chasing him during his escape attempt from the mental institution.
  • Insecurity Camera: Skyland has a lot of cameras around its perimeter, but most of them are turned inwards to watch for the escapees, which is one reason that allows Simon to get in.
  • Menu Time Lockout: Not only does the time stop when you open your inventory, but all the consumables in it are used instantaneously; you could have an opponent two steps away from you, open menu, click on a medkit or a water bottle, immediately consume them, then click out of it to find the enemy at the exact same place he was earlier.
  • Missing Child: Simon's sister disappeared in the woods and was missing for fifteen years.
  • Mysterious Note: The main reason why Simon is able to infiltrate Skyland is because he had earlier received an anonymous letter from a person who had also spent years studying the facility, and traced its outer defenses in detail. He had even managed to leave spray-painted crosses at key turns, so as to dodge cameras and/or mines.
    • However, soon after Simon bypasses the perimeter fence and starts navigating the razor wire labyrinth between it and the landmines, he finds the body of said benefactor. His last letter reveals he went too far with his last attempt to get inside in the search for his son. A soldier's diary you find later in the game mentions someone set off a mine a couple weeks before the events of the game, but no body could be found; this suggests the unnamed benefactor accidentally tripped a mine and died of his injuries after retreating to his hiding spot.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: The game uses store-bought assets due to being made by a single developer. Most notably, the character model for Alice is the same as the ghost girl from Pacify.
  • Pipe Pain: Nearly all of the enemies in the game wield pipes.
  • The Reveal: There was never a Skyland military base, and Simon's sister died of an incurable disease 15 years ago: he was simply a patient at an Arkham Mental Hospital all along. The only "real" element of the Skyland scenario was The Rival James Bennett, who was really another patient at the hospital who had been a longtime mutual enemy of Simon's.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: You have to manage healing items for your health, pills for your sanity (which drops when you're in the dark or automatically during several unavoidable scripted events), food/water, the batteries in your flashlight, and ammo for your guns.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted; a service revolver is simply the first proper weapon Simon finds, and it is only just about sufficient for the job, requiring multiple bullets (headshots included) to deal with the base's personnel due to their zombification. A semiautomatic pistol is found later on, and is somewhat more effective.
  • Room Full of Crazy: In one room, shining a blacklight on the walls reveals it to be covered in writing. Mostly the word "HELP!".
  • Sanity Slippage: Simon's mental state has already been worn down over the course of his 15-year search; examining the pinboard he has accumulated over those 15 years results in an admission he no longer counts the hours he spent on that search. Nevertheless, it can easily get worse as he starts to unravel the dark mysteries of Skyland. There is an explicit Sanity meter (illustrated with a picture of a brain) for you to keep track of, and which can be topped up with neuroleptic pills.
    • Then, this all takes on a different context when knowing that Simon had actually been insane long before the events of the game, and the entire game has been him trying to romanticise his attempted escape from a mental institution and deny the responsibility for his sister's death.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: A shotgun is one of the weapons that Simon can wield in the game, and it is certainly more effective than a revolver or a pistol. Even then, it'll still take it multiple blasts to put a typical enemy down.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: Most of the story is contained within the various documents you find throughout Simon's journey. The first bits of such context are the old newspaper clippings in Simon's home, along with the letter their mother had received from Massachusetts State Prosecutor.
  • Super-Soldier: The purpose of Skyland was to develop a chemical to make humans tougher, immune to pain, and hyper-aggressive, to create an army of super soldiers to defeat the Soviet Union. They were also planning to use mass-produced clones as the basis for said army. Unfortunately for them, a Soviet spy on the Skyland staff released the chemical into the air, turning the base personnel into uncontrollable zombies.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Zig-zagged. On one hand, Skyland has a lot of security cameras around, and multiple trenches with landmines beyond its fence. On the other hand, its outer fence is simple chainlink with razor wire on top rather than anything sturdier, thus allowing Simon to get in with a bolt cutter. Said fence is also not electrified, even though that is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to enhance perimeter security.
    • Likewise, the minefields contain dozens of the things, probably running into hundreds overall: you know this because they are half-buried at best, their metal cases clearly sticking out of the soil, and thus still letting you, and the unknown benefactor before you, to go through them. Only the third minefield is truly impassable: however, the sheer number of explosives means that when Simon tips a rock from a hillside onto a mine, the resultant explosion causes a chain reaction of such magnitude that it blows open a way into the underground facilities.
  • Technically Living Zombie: They're base personnel and kidnapped test subjects who have been exposed to a Psycho Serum that makes them insanely violent.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: There is a "Batteries" meter to indicate how long it'll last.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The final twist is straight out of Shutter Island, and once you know it, it's easy to see just how similar the rest of the plot is as well.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: The game includes a "strength" meter, which incorporates your hunger and thirst. It depletes gradually and needs to be refilled with food or water. If it fully depletes, you'll slowly lose health until you die.