[Review] Skully – Nintendo All the pieces

System: Change
Launch date: August 4, 2020
Developer: End Line Video games
Writer: Modus Video games

Skully is a 3D platformer that struggles to get the ball rolling on Change. It would remind Nintendo followers of early N64 platformers that experimented with what the style might be. Skully retains issues easy however introduces a number of new concepts that make it stand out from the platforming crowd. Sadly for Change gamers, it seems to be prefer it belongs on the N64, too. Skully is a superbly pleasurable little recreation with interesting artwork route and a few ingenious mechanics, however it’s let down by an especially lackluster Change port.

Skully options one twist early on: it’s a platformer the place you don’t have any legs. You play as a reanimated cranium (therefore the title, Skully) that’s given new life by an earth deity named Terry. Beneath Terry’s command, you’ll roll throughout an island seeking Terry’s divine brother and sisters, trying to resolve a sibling rivalry that threatens to tear your homeland aside. The narrative is introduced with a easy image book-like visible model, and whereas it may not be notably enthralling, it’s a bit extra fascinating than your common platformer story because of the themes of divine affect and elemental magic.

At first, gameplay feels a bit like Tremendous Monkey Ball, because you’ll be rolling throughout environments and flying off ramps. This generally is a main studying curve at first. It’s a wholly completely different beast to platform as a rolling ball, because it’s extra about maintaining momentum than precision. It may be extraordinarily irritating at first to try to make tough jumps, and for those who’re like me, you’ll spend most of your opening hour in Skully helplessly rolling off edges and recklessly rolling via every surroundings. Nevertheless, this new type of motion turns into pure as the sport goes on, and there’s an pleasurable rhythm to be present in zipping throughout ranges, sliding up and down ramps, and build up momentum.


You’re not left legless for lengthy, nonetheless. All through the sport, you possibly can dip into swimming pools of mud to create new transformations of Skully, every of which has its personal skills. There are three “Skullies”: one is heavyweight and may break blocks and smash enemies, one is a swift baby that may transfer platforms left and proper and has a particular sprint potential, and the final one has a double soar and may manipulate platforms up and down.

The extra skills you acquire, the extra Skully will check your potential with them. Early ranges are simple motion platforming fare, however the additional you get, the extra the sport focuses on puzzle-solving. You’ll be required to make use of each ability in your toolbox to progress. Since you possibly can have as much as three completely different Skullies energetic without delay, you’ll have to make use of every of their distinctive skills collectively to make progress. You may need to boost a platform with one Skully, transfer it backwards and forwards with one other, after which use the sturdy Skully to smash a wall on the opposite facet of the platform. It may be an elaborate challenge to set this all up, and whereas it could actually really feel a bit tedious to set all the pieces in place, it’s extraordinarily satisfying as soon as it’s all pulled off. There are normally a number of options to each drawback; it simply relies on what instruments you intend to make use of, and the way you employ them. Such open-endedness will be participating, supplied you have got the endurance to work all the pieces out.

Ranges start pretty linear, the place you’ll merely must journey from level A to B. Nevertheless, issues get a little bit extra exploratory because it goes on. One of the best ways to explain it could merely be that it’s “round” stage design. You begin in a single space, use your skills to unlock new pathways, and finally come again round to the place you started to make use of your extra powers to progress. Generally this construction means you could wander in circles for prolonged durations of time, which will be irritating. Nevertheless, generally, this creates a satisfying gameplay loop the place the surroundings regularly unfolds as you acquire extra abilities.


Issues aren’t fully excellent with the gameplay, nonetheless. The very nature of Skully poses loads of platforming frustrations. It may be excruciatingly tough to land an ideal soar once you’re taking part in as a rolling cranium that has no strong footing. It could actually typically really feel just like the physics are working in opposition to you. Moreover, the sport typically requires leaps of religion the place you’ll have to leap off tall ledges and hope in opposition to hope that you just land on strong floor. It’s particularly irritating that that is typically because of obscure compelled digicam angles that don’t allow you to see what’s under you. These are minor complaints within the grand scheme of issues, however they add as much as carry the general expertise down a bit.

Maybe you play as a skeleton, however Skully actually isn’t barebones. It’s a reasonably meaty recreation, that includes 18 ranges that may every take anyplace from 15 to 30 minutes to finish, which means you could anticipate about eight to 10 hours of content material at the very least. You’ll spend way more time within the recreation if you wish to accumulate all of the flowers in every stage. Flowers don’t do something within the recreation itself, however they do unlock idea artwork, which is actually a deal with contemplating the sport’s lovely visible route.

And on Change, this idea artwork will seemingly be the one manner for gamers to benefit from the full potential of Skully’s visuals. Merely put, Skully is in extraordinarily tough form on Change. It boasts of a beautiful artwork route crammed with vibrant colours and distinct environments which look lovely on different consoles, however they lose their luster on Change. Docked mode isn’t unplayable, however it’s actually far under the usual set by the sport’s look on different consoles, because it’s marred with muddy textures, blurry total visuals, and inconsistent efficiency.


Issues could be lower than perfect in TV mode, however moveable mode is borderline unplayable. Whereas visible compromises are to be anticipated in most multiplatform Change video games, Skully is downright unacceptable in moveable mode because of its dreadful graphics and atrocious efficiency, each of which negatively have an effect on gameplay. Visually, all the pieces blends collectively right into a muddy mess of jagged edges and blurry textures. It could actually typically be unattainable to make out Skully from his surroundings, or it could be tough to inform the distinction between the bottom and a lethal physique of water, making for an extremely irritating expertise. Worse but, the efficiency is uneven to say the least. It appears to goal for 30 frames per second however hardly ever hits that, and it most frequently sits across the low 20s, making for a laggy and janky platformer.

So as to add insult to harm, the Change model is loaded with glitches. For instance, Skully appears unable to deal with seamlessly switching between handheld and docked modes. At any time when I’d play portably and resume on my TV or vice versa, the sport could be fully frozen for anyplace from 15 to 30 seconds. Likewise, some cutscenes would glitch out, in order that the identical scene would loop again and again whereas the audio proceeds as traditional. The identical would additionally occur sometimes after selecting up the sport out of sleep mode. There have been additionally cases the place it someway locked right into a kind of first-person view that made the platforming and puzzle-solving practically unattainable, with no technique to escape this view besides to kill your self. Between all of the glitches and the inexcusably displaying in moveable mode, there’s merely no motive to play Skully on Change when you’ve got entry to a different platform.

The Verdict

Skully is a enjoyable platformer with strong bones, however its potential is totally misplaced on this Change model. It’s a strong recreation in its personal proper that retains issues fascinating with its distinctive platforming gameplay and satisfying puzzle mechanics. Even when it’s not excellent because of its handful of annoying design points and technical faults, it nonetheless gives loads of enjoyment for gamers searching for distinctive platforming motion. Simply keep away from the Change model in any respect prices – it’s laggy, buggy, and ugly, and its moveable mode efficiency is nothing in need of insulting. It’s comprehensible {that a} recreation as lovely as Skully would see some downgrades on Change, however when Doom and The Witcher three look higher than this, there may be merely no excuse. On the finish of the day, Skully is a worthwhile recreation on different consoles, however Nintendo followers will seemingly have a bone to choose with it on Change.

Overview copy supplied by the writer for the needs of this assessment.

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