Prepare to have your bones rattled by Skellboy, a quirky action-RPG bursting with character. Disaster strikes when the king’s evil court magician Squaruman resurrects the dead, after taking a rejection from the princess a bit too hard. Thankfully, he accidentally resurrected an ancient hero too – you! Play as Skippy, the square skeleton hero, as you travel the land of Cubold on a journey to stop Squaruman and his army of undead, meeting fun characters and completing side-quests along the way.
Much of Skellboy’s charm comes from its unique and exciting way of customising your character. As you explore the land and take out different enemies, you can pick up different body parts to swap out for your own. This provides a fun new way of getting buffs such as extra health or speed, special additional effects that reflect the enemies the parts came from (such as releasing toxic spores if you get a mushroom head), and also just creating fun new looks for yourself.
You can also find new weapons to use, also with different effects, varying from a dramatic rapier to a hardy baguette, meaning you’re definitely spoilt for choice. You can carry and swap between a sword, axe, club, wand, and lance-type weapon at all times, meaning you can really shake up combat whenever you want, and find new ways of dealing with different situations. It never feels old.
Skellboy’s writing is also excellent. It’s full of cube-based humour and puns, as well as an amusing, lighthearted tone throughout. The characters are a joy to interact with, all with nice-looking designs; you wouldn’t think a kingdom of cube-shaped people would have that much room for distinguished appearances, but the game is full of individual, varied sprites which set each character apart, and really make the world feel much more lively.
There are unfortunately some key issues that let Skellboy down. The main problem, in my opinion, was the lack of a world map to help you on your adventure. The areas in the game are all interconnected, but it’s easy to forget where everything is and what leads to where, and the lack of a run button can make finding your bearings very frustrating at times. You do eventually unlock a fast-travel system, which is a very welcome addition, but to me, this felt too little, too late, as this is after a significant chunk of playtime has already passed. Even then, you still don’t get a map to help you navigate around on your own.
A similarly frustrating issue is that the game doesn’t always give you a reminder of your objectives, and if it does, it’s by talking to NPCs which vary from objective to objective. Coming back to the game even after a short break can leave you confused as to what you’re meant to be doing, and it felt like this could be easily amended with a quick reminder on your menu.
The game also suffers from some noticeable performance issues, both in handheld and TV-mode (although they did seem more prevalent in handheld). There are, in seemingly consistent areas, some huge lag spikes and frame drops. Personally, this didn’t really affect my enjoyment, though others may find this distracting.
However, these issues, although frustrating, do not stop Skellboy being a great game at its heart. Its funky pixel-art style in a vibrant 3D world really adds to its unique and quirky feel, and its energetic, catchy music will be stuck in your head for weeks. Although it felt like there was room for improvement, Skellboy is still an absolute treat that’s definitely worth your time.
Catherine Lewis is a Games Editor. If you want to get involved with Games, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org