Skully is a platformer with very minor action and puzzle solving mechanics. You play as the titular Skully, a skull, yep. You were just a normal skull found floating in the ocean, you were picked up and plopped into a bubbly clay pool, which somehow brought you to life. The clay filled up the skull, and the magical earth guy that did it names you Skully because you’re just a skull and he’s a massive pothead, change my mind if you think you can.
Okay so the story is that Mr. rocks and dirt and each of his siblings control different elements, one a piece. They created this island together, I think, and they split the island evenly between them, each having their own area. Well as time moved on the magic on the island went haywire, and that spread to the family as well, causing them to go mad with power. This lead to all the family members expanding their territories… by taking chunks of his territory. He found the skull and used what little power he had to make you, he did this so that he would have help get to and, if necessary, defeat his siblings to get them to listen to him. This basically means you have to put yourself in danger because… again he’s a pothead so he’s almost as smart as the rocks and dirt that make up his tiny, tiny, smooth brain.
There are around twenty or twenty-five levels. Most of them aren’t particularly long thankfully, however the first time you play each level it can take a while. The reason being you obviously don’t know where to go because every level has a lot of open space even if it’s all fairly straight forward, on top of that every level has golden flowers which are collectables. There are a lot of flowers in every level, and you might be thinking, “Oh what, like twenty, fifty maybe?”, no I mean like a few fucking HUNDRED. I think the first level had like two hundred, every level has more than the last. by level like four, which is just an escape level, there’s four HUNDRED. Have, fucking, fun. Most of these collectables are straight forward in the way, pretty fucking hard to miss, however there are a few hidden either on top of things you wouldn’t think to look at, or hidden through secret pathways and the like. It’s easy to miss about a quarter to a third of them, thankfully there are walkthroughs but jesus christ, FOUR HUNDRED IN ONE LEVEL, just fuuuuck. Now you aren’t collecting these just for achievements, though you do need to get them for achievements, you also unlock art work for collecting them which is all pretty cool.
Sadly the game is extremely difficult. You have to beat ten levels without dying, which is… hard, so so fucking hard. You also have to beat each of the escape levels without dying, which is just the fucking pits, the camera gets moved to a static position as you move forward, which makes it super hard to actually see what you’re doing during the platforming, also you can’t outrun what’s ‘chasing’ you, because it rubber bands to stay no further than X distance from you, it can get closer but not further away, and that… well all of this combined makes these levels SUCK so bad. Also in every level there’s one or two areas that are just especially hard, I believe outright put there in order to kill you. I got this game thinking hey, this is something I can relax with it’s a cute looking platformer, it should be fun and relaxing I should have a FAB time. Like, Hell. Each one of those especially hard places in every level is infuriating, absolutely infuriating. I can run, damn near speed run the entire level, no deaths, except just these tiny sections which make me slow to a crawl and STILL manage to kill me almost every single time. The anger, it’s real. The bad sections where small, but because of just how hard they were, that wrecked the fun of the game because you need to play the same level numerous times in a row to get through it without dying, and to collect all the flowers which can be done over various runs. I can run most of the levels in like five to fifteen minutes now easy-peasy, I spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with the hard parts of the level than I do with the rest of that level, the hard parts are maybe five percent of the level but take a significantly larger percentage of the total time to get through.
Now for the escape sequences, I get why they made the camera go the way it did. They want you to constantly know where the thing chasing you is, and they make sure it stays rubber banded to you. If they didn’t rubber band the stuff to you and let you have your camera where you want it like all the rest of the level it would be easier to move around and actually make the platforming jumps that you’re expected to make. But, if they did that the things ‘chasing’ you could get too close because you wouldn’t know where it was at all times. I don’t know the best way to do it but I hate that it rubber bands, maybe at least stop that and bring the camera a bit closer and higher up so that it’s looking down at a steeper angle. That would let you still see when it’s close to you, but also 1. let you escape it properly, and 2. let you see where you are in relation to where you need to jump. I think that would be the best way to do it in my mind. That way you’re more likely to feel like your fuck ups are actually YOUR fault instead of an issue with the camera, or being rushed because the chaser is rubber banded to you. This actually removed most of the fun from the game these chase sequences suck bad, I like the story behind them but actually playing them isn’t fun. Between the chase sequences and the hard sections in each level the fun was taken out, beaten up, and then drowned until near death pulled out left to take a few breathes then drowned some more until eventually it’s heart gave out.
That being said I really like the art, it’s fairly realistic but I don’t know maybe more water color-esque? Like it looks real but not real life real, you know what I mean? I hope so, cause big brain Aki isn’t the Aki that’s in the house right now, sorry. The voice acting is good, the main voice actor is the earth guy who made you, he sounds like the most laid back pothead ever, kinda dumb so he does get annoying occasionally, everyone else is done well as well. The cutscenes are… I don’t know how I want to list them, they’re more like a picture book than an actual cutscene. The art is lovely but I would have liked to see the characters actively move around just because their designs are interesting and I want to know what they’d look like moving. Also you get access to a few other forms than just a rolling skull, and those forms are interesting and let you do interesting things a couple of them were pretty cute too.
Overall, I like the concept behind the game, I like the story, I like the twists, I like the voices, I kind of like the gameplay. However, it’s just too hard because every level has a stupidly hard chunk to it, and I mean every level, that’s not an exaggeration, and the camera in the escape levels is, well, I hate it. The pain those bad chunks gave me outweighed the enjoyment I got from the rest because I needed to reply the levels numerous times. I really want to like the game though because the rest of the levels were fun, they were fairly relaxed and the conversations Mr. pothead had with you were somewhat funny, but the hard chunks and the chase sequences just were not fun to play through, like at all.
A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher, Modus Games.
darkmikasonfire doesn’t give Skully the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.