The 3D platformer genre has had a few ups and downs over the years, but I still have a craving for a new adventure. Leave to indie developers to really pick up the torch and try new things with the genre, but more importantly, tell new stories. It’s this reason that I was interested in the Finish Line Games-developed Skully, which borrows mechanics from other titles but differentiates itself with the help of its unique protagonist.
Skully is about a skull who’s been given a second chance to roam around the world. A deity named Terry has requested Skully’s help to put a stop to a war between him and his siblings. In terms of actual story content, the demo we played doesn’t answer many questions about the narrative, but if you help this guy out, you might be able to get a permanent body.
Terry does have voice over, which adds a layer of humor to the hectic situation. It plays well with the game’s themes and does a great job setting up the premise of why you are even alive. One thing I will say is that the music is rather good as well as the overall sound design.
Skully is a skull, so movement in the game is restricted to mostly rolling around. This way of traversal is definitely one of the more exciting parts about gameplay as it adds a new layer of challenge to the platforming sections. Given that you are just a bodyless head, elements can quickly kill you, such as water, which requires some rather precise movements on your part.
I really liked this angle that the developers took, but I would hope that they capitalize on this by crafting creative environments that only this game can pull off. The environment that we played had some banked turns and scalable walls, but I would really like to see how advanced these levels get in future levels.
Rolling around isn’t the only means of traversal, though. Skully can take the form of a few different creatures that give him access to new abilities. In the demo, we could walk around as a tank-like character to hit down walls and take out enemies. However, he isn’t able to do everything the skull can, so you’ll need to switch back every once and awhile.
I’m interested to see how these characters change up the level design. The environment is currently pretty basic, with only one enemy type and few distant platforming sections. There’s definitely room to grow here and get even more creative. The idea of boss battles has my full attention as I hope that they require the use of gimmicks to be defeated.
Skully is clearly influenced by other 3D platformers, but the use of the skull as the protagonist allows it to stand out. What the developers do with this is yet to be seen, but I’m really hoping that they let their creativity run wild. As it stands, there’s a good foundation here that I’d like to see expanded upon in the full release.
Skully is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on August 4.
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