It’s not often that skeletons get to play the role of the hero in action-adventures, but Skellboy bucks the trend by putting you in the… uh… skeletal feet of Skippy as he looks to save the Kingdom of Cubold from the vicious wrath of the evil wizard Squaruman. Fortunately, Skippy just so happens to be an ancient hero, so he’s got experience as far as saving the kingdom is concerned. However, given his new skeletal appearance, he might have to use additional body parts if he’s going to succeed this time around…
Yeah, that might sound a grim premise, but Skellboy is actually very cute and charming throughout. It’s a whole lot of fun to play too, which is always a plus.
Skellboy’s standout feature is your ability to switch around body parts, with protagonist Skippy able to use the head, torso, and feet of slain enemies to unlock new abilities and change up his look. These new body parts will give you all sorts of different abilities – for example, the ‘Red Beet Skull’ allows you to shoot seeds at range, the ‘Royal Tunic’ gives you extra health, whilst the ‘Gumboots’ allow you to walk over water. There are all kinds of different abilities associated with the body parts though and wearing a set of three matching pieces will grant you additional buffs, so they’re well worth playing around with. Some body parts are actually locked behind side quests too, so it’s definitely worth helping out the other folk of the Kingdom if you see they’re in need.
Changing up body parts is a clever idea that really shows how imaginative Skellboy can be. They always give you something new to try out, whilst the creativity of some of the abilities on offer let you cater your appearance to suit exactly what you need from the game in that moment – I liked to always have a ranged-attack handy for example, though having things like the ‘Bat Shoes’ to make Skippy move faster also felt useful when scouring the environment. Just expect to look ridiculous… I mean, at one point I was a hay-bale that had the head of a zombie… bizarre.
There are also multiple weapons to find across the game, each of which isl spread across five different types: swords, clubs, axes, lances, and wands. Whilst they do have different pros and cons, combat mostly feels the same throughout the game with a big focus on simply button-mashing your attacks and avoiding those of your enemies. The abilities granted by the different body parts do spice things up a bit, but for the most part it’s easy enough to simply mash the attack button to clear out your foes.
It’d be something if there was some form of levelling-up system in the game, but everything is tied to the body parts or weapon that you have equipped. It actually made me just skip enemy encounters at times and run past them to reach my goal – unless you know you want one of their body parts, there’s no real need to take them all down. Still, there’s nothing wrong with the combat mechanics of the game and it can be fun to kill the enemies you encounter, it’s just all very simple.
Exploration is a bit more fun, with the player eventually given the freedom to explore the Kingdom how they please and tackle tasks in any order they like. There’s a bit of platforming and puzzle-solving tied to this too, so exploring different environments always proves to be enjoyable and will often have you put your thinking cap on. Skellboy does have a Metroidvania-style twist in places though, so there will be times when you need specific weapons equipped in order to progress. Thankfully, you eventually gain access to your own Crypt which allows you to switch out body parts and weapons with ease, so it never feels like an inconvenience.
I love the visuals of Skellboy, with the voxel-style managing to make for a world that’s full of colour and that feels especially fun to explore. It certainly feels distinct and unique, and helps add an extra dose of charm to Skellboy’s already pleasant world. The soundtrack is on-point too, with the chiptune beats always seeming to fit the vibe of each kooky locale you explore perfectly.
Whilst Skellboy certainly looks the part, it does suffer from a few performance issues here and there – specifically when you traverse between different environments, which would cause the frame rate to stutter. I also noticed that enemies could get stuck in the environment at times, but hey, at least it made them easy targets so I won’t complain too much. Neither of these issues are game-breaking and the developer has said that they’re planning on releasing a patch to address them, so hopefully they won’t be a problem for too much longer.
Skellboy offers a fun experience that has a very novel idea in place with its body part-swapping, with the combination of different body parts on offer not only neat to play around with but quirky as heck too. It is a bit of a shame that there’s not more depth to the combat mechanics, but it doesn’t deter from what is otherwise an enjoyable adventure that’s packed to the brim with kooky charm.
Developer: Umaiki Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC