Skellboy is an ambitious title, that’s for sure. It is a pixelated-looking 3D action platformer with a unique twist. Your character, Skippy, is able to replace his body parts with those of his fallen enemies. This helps you acquire new abilities, gain more health, or simply look more beautiful. Well, is this game itself beautiful, however? Let’s find out!
Skellboy tells the story of a peaceful land known as Cubold Kingdom. Unfortunately, the king’s evil court magician went crazy once the princess dumped him, and now he has gone wild and resurrected the kingdom’s dead and long-forgotten monstrosities.
You play as Skippy, an ancient hero that the evil magician accidentally resurrected as well, and it is up to you to rid this evil and restore the kingdom to its former glory.
It is a charming and at times hilarious story. Skellboy provides a lot of gags, puns, and silly storytelling that it alone might keep you in for this wild ride. Talking to each NPC provides so much goofy insight to the world around you, and the level of intelligence displayed by people of the Cubold Kingdom is just plain comical.
The story itself it nothing new, but it serves its purpose and propels Skellboy into the direction that makes it shine the most. This is a game that is honestly way too funny to ever feel truly epic. Whether or not that’s a good thing is entirely up to the player. For me, the story and dialog was the one thing that kept me playing the most.
Skellboy is a fixed-camera, 3D action platformer with a really fun and unique mechanic. Skippy, your character, is able to replace his body parts with different enemies throughout the game. As you are fighting your way through dungeons, fields, towers, and battle arenas, numerous baddies will randomly drop a body part which you can trade out. Some parts serve a purpose while others are purely cosmetic.
It is actually in the purpose-driven parts that I found some serious problems with back-tracking. Similar to a metroidvania, many areas of the world are locked off until you acquire a certain body part that allows you to progress. Considering Skippy’s often sluggish speed, traversing your way around the Cubold Kingdom can become quite the bore. When you reach a far-off destination only to be told you cannot enter until you have a certain something, well, that can be infuriating after the umpteenth time.
Skippy is also collecting weapons throughout the game. He has a base lineup of a sword, a club, an axe, a pencil (?), and a candy cone (huh?). Each base weapon has multiple iterations, including lots of silly ones, like a fly swatter. I found myself rarely depending on anything but the club. It is able to charge up and provide a wallop to any enemy that comes your way. If it ain’t broken, why bother trying another weapon?
This is probably the weakest part of Skellboy, to be perfectly honest. The game just kind of drags, and once you find your favorite outfit and weapon, you really do not want to change things up. You basically find yourself doing the same things over and over again until you basically finish the game. The combat just isn’t deep at all, and the boss fights are often more frustrating than they are fun.
It may also be very hard for certain players to even get past the early stages of the game. Although the gameplay becomes more fun and varied in the latter half, the first half can be quite slow and hard to get through. It is in the second half of the game when enemies become even more varied, more body parts become available, and the best items are obtainable. Sadly, you just have to bull through the first many hours fighting the same handful of monsters while circling around the same environments.
I know I sound like I am coming off harsh, but for a game that runs you nearly 10 hours to complete, it is just unfortunate that players cannot fully appreciate the experience until they are well into the game. For the first hour, I was loving every second of it. It was just unique and silly enough to make me smile from ear-to-ear, but then things started to settle and lose their shine.
One awesome system the game does provide is the checkpoint dungeon, which allows you to interact with checkpoints and enter a hidden area that lets you see what weapons and body parts you have collected so far. Thankfully, you are even able to interact with those items and trade them out there. This is especially helpful in the latter part of the game when certain body parts are necessary for certain passage. However, I did find some areas lacking a convenient checkpoint, but that was rarely problematic.
The music in Skellboy fits really well for the environment and visuals. They are some fun and banging chiptunes that really add a lot of extra flavor to the game.
I also enjoyed the nostalgic sound effects that reminded me of old NES games like Ghouls & Ghosts. Each enemy and their attacks had unique sounds that set them all apart. Once the game started to introduce a wider variety of enemies, this got even better. It is always so fun to recognize the sound of an enemy before you even see them.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
Skellboy looks amazing! All of the character models are super cute, and the attention to detail around you is just top notch. The way the grass sways in the fields, how little animals interact with you and the environment, and the overall world design is simply breath-taking. Visually, this one of the most ambitious and pretty indie games on the eShop, without question. I was simply amazed by the amount of detail put into everything around me, especially the backgrounds. As you progress into the latter half of the game, there are some areas that will surprise you with how beautiful they are.
With that said, Skellboy suffers tremendously from performance issues. The amount of times I experienced screen-tearing, lag, and pixel discoloration was so sad. For a gorgeous world like Cubold Kingdom to be marred by such slowdown and visual impairment is sinful. These issues clearly communicate to me that Skellboy needed some more time in the oven.
The game is currently charging $20 in the US, £18.00 in the UK, and €20,00 in Europe. For what Skellboy has to offer, I think these price tags are justified. It is an ambitious game with so much personality and detail that you cannot help but love and appreciate what the team put into it. However, it does struggle in a few areas, and many of these problems could have been squashed if the team just gave the game a little more time to cook before releasing it.
Skellboy is a really cool and fun idea that is just muddled with performance issues and glitches. I, myself, was actually locked out of continuing because of a game-breaking glitch I encountered. I had to wait until they released a patch that fixed the issue, and I feel like that is going to be the case moving forward. Skellboy will just become a better and better game over time, similar to that of No Man’s Sky. It has the potential to be a stellar game, but as of now, it is just barely passing.
Story - 8/10
Gameplay - 6/10
Audio - 8/10
Visuals & Performance - 5/10
Value - 6/10
Skellboy is a game that still finds holes to shine through despite its problems. It is a charming and fun story loaded with personality. The unique gameplay mechanics are initially a ton of fun, but they can drag over time. Performance issues do hurt the experience, but I do think it is worth the ride, especially if they keep patching problems down the road.
- Body part switching mechanic
- Awesome and varied audio
- Fantastic visuals and designs
- Slowdown and visual glitches
- Slow-paced, especially the first half of the game