STAFF REVIEW of Skully (Xbox One)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020.
by Kirsten Naughton

Skully Box art Have you ever wondered what it's like to roll around as a skull? I know I hadn't until I saw gameplay for Skully for the first time and wanted in on the fun. Have you played Marble Blast or Marble it Up? Well, think of Skully in a grander, more scenic setting and with a story to go with it. If the title doesn't give it away, Skully is a 3D puzzle platformer and you play, well, a skull. I know, right? Shocking. Did Finish Line Games cross the finish line first or did they miss the mark? I have to say as someone who loves games that are simple in concept but complex in their plot and execution, I was enthusiastic in seeing what Skully had to offer in terms of rolling around and completing what looked to be a fun time killer.

On the surface, Skully is caught in the middle of a bunch of siblings that harness the power of water, fire and wind. Terry is a guy who harnesses the power of earth, and his main goal is to stop his siblings from arguing and regain harmony between them. He then asks for Skully's help to achieve this. I know every family in the world at some time or another has had drama within their circle. From personal experience, I rarely get into my own family drama, let alone someone else's family drama. But, I chose to keep going with Skully agreeing to help Terry. Grab the popcorn folks! Just kidding. The story itself isn't the absolute highlight of Skully's adventure. Albeit, it's not the worst story ever, but the story could have been left out and it would still be the same game overall. Just my personal opinion, but the narration and artwork was phenomenal. Not a deal breaker by any means.

The only glaring problem I have with Skully that ultimately is its unfortunate downfall. The rolling controls, while extremely precise as you can also stop on a dime, but it's rather hard to control as Skully himself. Don't get me wrong, it is fun to launch yourself all over the place, but when you have bodies of lava and water all around you along with enemies that may be lurking around the corner, I needed more control of Skully in these situations. In particular, I found it difficult to turn the corner and not hit the water or lava in several levels. If I could adjust my sensitivity as Skully, most of the problems with rolling around as him would be somewhat solved I'd think. I found it frustrating as a lot of your actions while on the levels have to be calculated precisely and thought out instead of carefree and rather simple. While I appreciate the complexity and level of sensitivity as I need to stop, it tends to not be as easy to ignore when you want to just cruise around and finish the level before moving onto the next.

The charming part of Skully I enjoyed other than the graphics (duh) are the golems you can morph Skully into as you progress levels. There are three you can unlock and I enjoyed that there are a handful to rip around as. Although these three golems don't roll around, each has a special ability. One golem is strong, yet rather slow, while another is fast, but very weak and one that can double jump. As you unlock golems, the levels get more complex.

Note, that you can't just press a button and you're a golem or back to Skully. You have to make it to specific brown circles on the ground that not only count as checkpoints but your morph station where you can change into a golem or back to Skully. I found this to be quite delightful as it gives you motivation to keep going through the levels, find new golems and test out the current ones you have unlocked. It would be too simple if you simply were able to change your character whenever you pleased.

Skully has a lot of good qualities about it; beautiful graphics, charming characters and I had an overall good gameplay experience. While I constantly struggled with the rolling controls, I still found reasons to enjoy my experience. Skully is not at all a bad game whatsoever and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a great time killer. I think for now, I'll keep rolling through the levels and explore some more!

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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