You are Skully, a recently deceased skeleton that’s just getting the hang of what it is to be dead. You’ve made friends with an adorable bat named Imber, but before you can really settle in to your new existence, a band of humans come and muck up the place. Not seeking treasure, the humans target the magic that kindles the spirits of the dead: the Blue Flame, and even abscond with the remains of your village’s elder. Skully knows that if they aren’t stopped, there won’t be a peaceful undeath for anyone in the Underworld. With Imber in tow, Skully sets off to stop the human threat once and for all!
Skelattack falls in the same vein as games like Chasm: you will be dying a lot, and that’s completely okay. The level of difficulty is enough to make things challenging, but won’t make you feel like shutting it off for good. The engagement brought about by the story and characters pushes you to keep moving forward, and the payoff is more great moments bashing in the heads of your enemies and hanging out with your bat friend.
Controls, while easy to learn, are very tough to master. There are some times where platforming will feel sluggish and jumps will feel a bit slow. You’ll quickly find that there are a ton of ways to get instantly killed, which can leave a sour taste in your mouth. Death, though, is a teaching tool in platformers, and we must of course adapt and overcome!
Progression is not too far set back by a death, with a checkpoint system in place to help you get the practice in that you need to move forward. Every time you pass by a Blue Flame, your progress is saved and you will return there until passing the next check point after a death. Deaths DO result in the loss of money, and you can end up in a cascade of loss in particularly difficult areas.
Skully is capable of more than just simple jumps. There are wall jumps, the ability to swing a sword, and a boomerang that you can lob at enemies to help you on your journey. You will obtain different skills or abilities at certain points in the game, some of which can really make your life easier. Imber will quickly become a necessity on your quest — proving that a cute sidekick is there for more than just “aww” factor.
Art and Sound:
Soft colors abound with this cartoon art style. Cool colors that make up the Underworld contrast well with warm sources of light, showing the level of love and polish that the developer has really put into this project. The level design rewards you for exploring — areas that are off the main path usually have some sort of reward, like an upgrade or some money, making you WANT to really push to see all the sights, and man are they something to behold!
The music, while fitting, is a bit less impressive for the game. With something that invested so much in the art assets graphically, it seems the music is nothing to write home about. For a lot of games there are songs that end up stuck in your head, which to me a catchy tune can be a sign of good writing… But here I honestly found not a single track that I fancied. Now this isn’t to say that the music is bad at all! On the contrary, it’s really quite charming, but I feel that its definitely the most average of the whole package.
-Amazing art style that makes it feel like playing a cartoon
-Great personality for characters
-No visual indicator that the game has saved
-Platforming segments can feel a bit clunky and slow
Skelattack has incredibly memorable characters that would be right at home in their own Saturday morning cartoon series. The level of depth created in the Underworld is massive, and there’s definitely more that can be done with Skully and Imber. While the gameplay had its challenges, I was definitely compelled by the level of challenge and the story-telling to see the task through, and would definitely say that this is a game that should be on your radar. Skelattack is available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One — so don’t miss out on this wonderful flip on the story of journeying through the Underworld!