Just last week, Konami kicked off a slightly smaller scale adventure than you might normally expect from this gaming behemoth when they launched Skelattack, a charming 2D platformer that challenges you to save the underworld.
Available now on Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam, and Xbox One, Skelattack is a charming 2D adventure that follows the fortune of Skully. As a newly deceased resident of the underworld, Skully and his batty best friend aren’t exactly the type of protagonists Konami are normally associated with. While the town of Aftervale is charming, it’s not quite what we’ve come to expect when delving into hell or facing off against hordes of the other undead. Instead of tearing down sidestreets and outrunning flesh-eating atrocities, Players looking to get a glimpse of Skelattack will face off against a band of savage humans and some side on dungeon exploration that isn’t for the faint of heart. Thankfully, skeletons have no heart so we’re all good here. After a vicious human invasion, it’s up to Skully to embark on a quest to rescue the old bag of bones that the flesh bags have swiped.
It’s Dead Fun
While the pretence for Skelattack is pretty preposterous that hasn’t stopped plenty of amazing 2D games like this from warming my heart. The Adventure Pals is about as leftfield as they come but this particular title might even be better to compare to DrinkBix’s Guacamelee in some respects. Whether it’s eagerly comparing this outing with singing foxes, a giraffe sidekick, or grandma’s gems Skelattack fits right in with other outlandishly bright indie adventures, and a quick glimpse of the lower reaches of Aftervale just about set this tone perfectly. The control system and layout presented in Skelattack might seem relatively simple for some. A series of 2D dungeons unfold before players, mixing platforming with a little side exploration and narrative. Getting around is generally intuitive although controls can feel a little heavy on the odd occasion and take a little getting used to. Despite this, the quirky outsized animation and chirpy soundtrack will likely strike a chord with most people. Don’t expect Skelattack to cater to an Adult Swim audience, but do prepare for talking rocks, demon librarians, and rat kings on your travels.
As a game that seems to revel in an innocent silliness, Skelattack is relatively accessible for most ages to pick up and play. 2D level design makes navigating the overworld and available dungeons easy enough and combat is pretty much just hack and slash. Carving your way through a series of increasing large caverns or scaling a castle provide plenty of obstacles beyond your own thumbs including angry human guards and spikey spikes of spikey death.
Despite a varied range of settings for players to explore, Skelattack’s biggest challenge is easily its sharp environmental design. I am clearly describing these dreaded spikes. While run jump and even the game’s slightly unintuitive wall jump are easy enough to get to grips with, the challenge all about how players use these to get around tight jumps, deadly traps, and some lethal falls. Much like Super Meat Boy, Skelattack is a bright animated series of cells that belie a challenge of intricate timing and old school skill. While you won’t need the sort of puzzle-solving trickery that Octahedron’s beat based levels manage, you will fail a great many times.
Outside of the occasional boss fight, much of the challenge in Skelattack comes in the form of these environmental obstacles, making the combat feel at odds with the rest of the game. Knights, axe-wielding warriors, and even the odd fireball don’t compare to the damage of a mistimed jump making the consequences for failure, and the sometimes instant death that occurs on these liberally used pointy things make the game feel overly punishing at times and just oddly balanced.
While there might be a lot of death and dismemberment involved in Skelattack, thankfully its all pretty light hearted. Skully can expect to fall to bits more than a few times but Skelattack won’t punish players at all for this. Sure, you’ll drop some of the in game currency and the game delights in reminding you how terrible you are in occasion, but developers Ukuza balance this impending death with a plethora of save slots and plenty of humor to get you past your platforming frustration.
Sure, Skelattack isn’t for the hardcore speedrunner or anybody looking for visceral action, Despite the fact that there are extra upgrades available, this adventure doesn’t hold a ton of replayability but that’s really not the point of this particular title. Skelattack adds likeable characters, silly plot, and a wonderful unoffensive aesthetic to a simple concept. There’s a ton of challenge and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. As we say in Glasgow, its pure dead brilliant, or undead brilliant? Skelattack won’t change your world but it’s the best fun you can shake a metacarpal at. Head over to Steam, the Microsoft Game Store, or Nintendo eShop to grab a bone.