Skeletons are cool but you don't often get to play as them so here's the charming Metroidvania Skelattack. No bones about it!
Skelattack stars a skeleton named Skully and his bat friend Imber. They reside in a lovely little place in the Underworld known as Aftervale where dead beings try and reconcile with their lives via a ceremony referred to as Remembrance. However, Skully's Remembrance is interrupted when humans decide to invade the Underworld and after they abduct the elder Elzedon, he and Imber decide to go on an adventure to stop the humans and hopefully protect the sacred Blue Flame. I wasn't expecting the story to be so fantastical but I'm happy that it is and the cast of characters is wonderfully charming. Watching them joke around as they forge ahead through their trials is so endearing that you'll end up falling in love with these undead chums only to side with them against the dastardly humans. If you have even a pinch of nihilism in your psyche, you'll find this premise and game world to be downright captivating.
The core gameplay of Skelattack is simple and typical of the Metroidvania genre as you run and jump around (with the ability to double-jump and leap off walls) while attacking all sorts of enemies. As you progress, you'll acquire an arsenal of additional abilities and spells as well as encounter oodles of unique situations. You'll eventually be able to heal on the spot, throw a boomerang, control Imber as you flap your wings to ascend, and return hidden items to NPCs for substantial upgrades. Meanwhile, the stages are elaborately designed to offer challenging platforming and the boss fights are pretty fun to topple as well. Overall, it provides an enjoyable campaign complete with loads of variety and secrets and the cartoonish visuals and lighthearted music really bring the world to life.
As you uncover the distinct area maps within Skelattack's world, you'll discover treasures tucked away in nooks and crannies that may increase your health meter, enhance your sword, and provide different boosts. Plus, you'll acquire a wealth of gems that are earned by defeating enemies, breaking boxes, and simply picking them up although they're usually located in super-tricky locations. These gems can be exchanged for upgrades such as making your healing spell use less MP and heal more. On the downside, you'll end up losing these gems more often than you'll collect them because whenever you perish, you lose 15 of them. You can collect them again but considering there are countless instant death traps everywhere, trying to maintain a balance is a very difficult thing to do. As a result, I simply grinded for gems whenever I wanted to purchase anything and stopped caring if I lost any while traversing the grueling stages.
Although frequently losing gems can be disheartening, there are really no consequences for failure beyond that because there are so many checkpoints that it's ridiculous. So, you'll end up trying the same tricky jumps between narrow spike-covered passageways multiple times and whenever you get snagged, you'll simply be set a second or 2 back. I wish that there was more of a balance. In other words, the platforming could have been less challenging and the checkpoints spaced out more. If this was the case then losing gems would feel fairer as well. On top of all this, the controls can be clunky at times, especially in regards to platforming so failure often feels like it's due to poor design as opposed to your skill level. I mean; being forced to thread through pixel-perfect jumps and wall climbs is rarely fun.
Skelattack boasts one of the most unique premises and stories that I've had the pleasure of experiencing in a long time. If it featured tighter controls and better balancing when it came to its platforming challenges then it would be a must-play Metroidvania.
- + Charming characters and game world
- + Enjoyable gameplay with clever skills and a variety of fun scenarios
- + Rewarding secrets to uncover
- - Losing gems is far too punishing
- - Aside from losing gems, frequent checkpoints make failure inconsequential
- - Controls can be clunky at times