Review – Skully

I’m seeing a pattern with a lot of skeleton themed games hitting the market recently. Just this year we’ve reviewed SkellboyWest of Dead, and Skelattack, all games featuring a skeleton protagonist. Surprisingly, there has been a fair amount of diversity between these games. Now we have Skully, the newest title from Modus Games. A game which still manages to set itself apart from its other bony brethren.

The game starts with the titular Skully being resurrected from beyond the grave by a deity named Terry. You soon discover that Terry has gifted you with life (of sorts) in order to help him with an important task. He wants to stop the fighting that has been going on between him and and his siblings for ages and is threatening to destroy the island in which they live. No simple task by any means, but Skully is up for the challenge.

Skully

Meet Skully.

Skully is a 3D puzzle platformer at its core. However, there are a few other gameplay elements at work than just trying to scale sides of hills. Since Skully is well, a skull, all he can do at first is roll around and hop. In this sense, controlling Skully feels like Marble Madness. It’s not too long before he and Terry discover that he can interact with pools of mud and take on a new clay form. He won’t be able to utilize all of these new forms right from the start though. Instead the game gradually parcels out new ones throughout to keep things interesting.

The gameplay mechanics aren’t terribly complex, but they’re still fun nonetheless. The first form Skully will unlock is a big, brutish clay monster that can send shockwaves at enemies and punch through cracked barriers. Next he’ll discover a form that allows him to run swiftly and manipulate rock platforms from side to side. Then he’ll uncover a form that lets him double jump, as well as move platforms up and down. He’ll occasionally unlock additional moves to these three forms as well, further adding to the gameplay variety.

Skully

Yeah you’d better run!

For the most part, the controls are tight and responsive. Although, jumping is another matter entirely. Since Skully has irregular protrusions on one side (his face), jumping isn’t always as easy as it needs to be. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s unreliable at best. Things get a little bit easier when he’s in his clay forms, but even then there are plenty of times he’ll slide to the edge of a cliff, rock, or lily pad and get stuck there. Since touching water or fire equals death, getting trapped on the edge of a platform will more often than not lead to his demise.

Skully

Those tentacles will slap the skull right out of your clay form.

Skully doesn’t just feature your typical puzzle platforming levels the whole game. There are also a few boss fights against Terry’s siblings that change things up a bit. Unfortunately, there are also levels that are one big rear-facing chase sequence. These are a nightmare. Not only do you barely have enough time to see where you can move safely, but with Skully’s horrible jumping mechanics you’ll die countless times before the end. Luckily, Skully will be able to get right back into the action thanks to almost no loading times.

Visually, Skully surprised me. It looks a lot better in its final version than it did in it’s preview phase. It’s not a graphical marvel, but its clay-like art style and stop-motion cutscenes work well for the theme of the game. There is a lot of detailed texture work throughout, as well as some nice lighting effects. This all brings the various environments of the island to life.

Skully

Quite literally playing “The Floor is Lava”.

The sound design is one of Skully‘s strongest areas. The sound effects are well done and the soundtrack fits the tone of each section perfectly. However, the best part is without a doubt the voice acting. Terry and his three siblings all have strong vocal performances. My favorite part about the whole game was listening to the sibling squabbles the entire time. It’s like listening to children arguing over holiday toys, if those children had powers that could destroy one another.

Sibling Rivalry

Ah good old fashioned sibling rivalry!

I have been interested in Skully for a while now and I’m pleased to say that it impressed me more than I was expecting. The graphics are a lot more polished than in the demo and there is a really good variety in gameplay mechanics. The jumping and chase sequences can definitely be aggravating, but the charming aesthetic and hilarious banter between the siblings will have you coming back for more.

 

Graphics: 8.0

Nice art style and graphics, with detailed texturing and good lighting effects.

Gameplay: 6.0

Controlling Skully, you’ll be able to roll, jump, bash enemies, break weak barriers, and move platforms depending on which form you take. Jumping is unreliable and the chase sequences are annoying.

Sound: 9.0

The soundtrack fits the game well and the voice acting is wonderful. Easily my favorite part of the game is hearing the siblings bicker back and forth.

Fun Factor: 7.0

There’s a nice variety in gameplay options and the controls are pretty tight and responsive, until it comes to jumping. The chase sections are frustrating, but the rest of the game is a delight.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Skully is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox One X.

A copy of Skully was provided by the publisher.