[Review] Skellboy – Nintendo Switch

Written by Joachim Ziebs
  • Developer: Umaiki Games
  • Publisher: Fabraz
  • Release Date: 30/01/2020
  • Price: £18.00 / $20.00
  • Review code provided by Fabraz

All the weight is on your shoulders!

Skellboy was the last game I gave a go at Gamescom 2019. It was an enjoyable demo and I waited for its release on 3/12/2019, patiently. I was surprised about the delay into 2020, but I also believe that a game shouldn’t be rushed just to meet deadlines. Now the wait is finally over and we can all play this fresh indy gem.

You are dead. That much is certain. However, since the evil mage Squaruman had been neglected by the fair princess Zoletta and has–as his revenge–filled the peaceful lands of Cubold with zombies and a plethora of other monsters, you are resurrected. Well, your bony skeleton is at least. So, grab whatever useful body parts you can find–even your feet are missing at first–get some weapons into your cold, dead, bony fingers and set out to save the world.

You are more than the sum of your parts: a true hero!

Skellboy is basically an action adventure/platformer with RPG elements. There are no stat changes nor is there any grinding for experience like in traditional RPGs. Instead, Skellboy forces you to literally swap out parts of yourself, meaning your head, body or feet in order to gain certain buffs.
Defeated monsters sometimes leave these parts around which you can then pick up in exchange for your current part. There is no inventory other than for a selection of weapons, so have a look at the details screen to decide if you want to keep your original part or trade it for a new one. I case you go for a complete set of parts you end up with a set bonus, too. (Monster Hunter, anyone?) If you, for example, turn yourself into a zombie by using the corresponding head, body and feet, you’ll end up with only one health cube, but will be completely ignored by other zombies.

Speaking of health cubes: You start off with four of them and can replenish them regularly when you find them by destroying boxes or piles/blocks of straw. Health cubes that you don’t need at the moment because your health is still full don’t vanish, so you can pick them up at a later time when you are in a pinch. Unless you are in a boss fight. Can’t leave boss fights. (Well, who would have thought?)

Skellboy’s gameplay is linear. There is a path to follow, people to be freed and bosses to be defeated in order to finally reach the evil wizard, destroy him and free the land of Cubold once more. On your way you can explore a lot and are amply rewarded. Some weapons/body parts are hidden in chests or even behind walls that you have to bomb away. But all this is only a means to an end. And that end is the defeat of Squaruman!

Don’t fall apart!

What do you call this kind of artstyle? It’s tremendously beautiful and well fitting to the game, but hard to describe. It looks like voxels, but is pixel art. It’s not blocky, but perhaps something like half-blocky. It’s colourful, but gloomy in the dungeons. It’s rainbow-like happy, but drastic and grim when it needs to be, too. It’s definitely a pleasure to your eyes!

Nearly the same can be said about the chiptune soundtrack. It suits the game like a well fitted glove and might give you an earworm or two. Still, backseat gamers in my household have complained that the music got annoying after a few longer play sessions. I don’t share that sentiment, though.

It all comes crashing down? Luckily not!

So, everything is dandy about Skellboy? I wish it was, but there is some black lining at Cubold’s horizon. I’ve had some stutters and frame-drops during my play sessions. They happened both docked and handheld and were strangely not during fights with lots of enemies on screen or boss fights, but happened while exploring different surroundings with no other movements but my character’s. The hiccups didn’t affect gameplay too much, but were nonetheless annoying in such a beautiful game.

But fear not, dear heroes, the publisher promises that a patch is already under way eliminating the performance problems as well as adding a few new features.

Conclusion

With a lovely artstyle, quirky humour and good gameplay, Skellboy delights as an adventure game. The RPG elements spice it up even more. It’s definitely a game you should not miss.

Pros

  • Responsive Controls
  • Funny Story
  • Refreshing Idea About Buffs by Changing Body Parts

Cons

  • No Difficulty Settings
  • Some Stutters and Frame-drops both Docked and Handheld (A patch is on the way, though!)

Verdict

All in all a great game even if it has some hiccups. It’s simply a pleasure to experience!

5/5

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