Skellboy Review: Bad to the Bone

Skellboy is an action-RPG that succeeds at first blush, but it fails to pull you in for the long run.

Some games look bad but turn out great. Others are the other way around. Skellboy isn't a totally bad game, but it doesn't play anywhere near as good as it looks. The beautiful voxel art style and animations can't cover-up the game's rather banal gameplay and poor pacing. It's a real shame. I really wanted to like it. 

Skellboy Review: Bad to the Bone

In Skellboy, you play as Skippy, a skeleton who has risen from their grave to help defend the Cubold Kingdom from an incel who can't get a date. Yes, that's actually the story. The court sorcerer got turned down by the princess and became a necromancer to seek revenge. Kind of makes you glad there's no magic in this world, the real one I mean. 

As expected, things have gotten bad. The princess is nowhere to be found, and here you are, all skeletoned up with not a shred of muscle or skin in sight. The good news is that your body is made up of multiple interchangeable parts. Sure, you might be all bones now, but you can always take a zombie's head and put on a princess gown to mess around with your stats. 

It's a cool idea, but one that never really feels like it leaves the ground. There are a few genuinely interesting gear pieces you can acquire, but a lot of them feel more like cosmetics than anything. Even the ones that do change your stats or give you new abilities are often underwhelming. 

Take, for example, the soldier boots. They give you knockback resistance when being attacked. It sounds great, but most enemies die long before you get in range. Either that or they simply attack with so much force that you get knocked back anyway. The weapons suffer a similar fate. There's a lot of variety, but few ever feel worthwhile.

It all equates to something quite shallow, and that's a damn shame given how incredibly easy on the eyes Skellboy is. An action RPG needs good items. Without them, it might as well just be an arcade game. 

The Lights Are On...

Skellboy's wonderful and incredibly vibrant aesthetic never stops being a genuine pleasure to drink in. The enemies are cute, the environments are varied, and the world is just nice to exist in. The soundtrack absolutely slaps too. Hard. With a chargeable backhand straight to your eardrums, it resonates in a way that won't damage your hearing but still leave them ringing with desire. 

Despite that, the boss fights are probably the highlight of Skellboy; each one serves as a sort of puzzle to work out. Figuring out what to hit and when to hit it is part of the fun, which is bolstered by the inherent strategy of avoiding the attacks being launched at you. It's fun, but it doesn't make up for the meh-ness of the rest of the gameplay. 

Skellboy also stutters a lot in handheld mode. It happens with no real reason, or at least not obvious ones. You'll simply be strolling along a corridor, or skipping through a field, and suddenly, the image will freeze, and you'll be teleported a few feet. It's irksome at best, and intensely frustrating at worst, especially when it happens during the aforementioned boss fights. 

It also doesn't help that you do a fair bit of walking in Skellboy, and the pace is quite slow. It's just another aggravating aspect of the game, and probably my single biggest issue with it as well. It's almost possible to overlook the somewhat superfluous items you come across as long as the pacing is good, but how can the pacing be good when you move like, well, like an undead? 

Skellboy Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Sounds amazing
  • Looks great
  • Fun boss battles

Cons

  • Poor pacing
  • Items lack meaning
  • Combat can be quite dull in general 

Skellboy simply isn't consistent. It's easy on both the eyes and ears, but not on the soul. It's a frustrating and rather draining game to play because the pace is just too slow. It's a shame too because the boss fights could make up for that as long as it felt worthwhile, but it doesn't.

Skellboy simply feels very shallow, and while normally I would say that beauty is only skin deep, there is no skin here, so it cuts to the bone. 

[Note: A copy of Skellboy was provided by Umaiki Games for the purpose of this review.]

Our Rating
5
Skellboy is an action-RPG that succeeds at first blush, but it fails to pull you in for the long run.
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Contributor

Jason likes the gym, roguelikes, and FromSoftware. There is a pattern there for sure, but try not to read too much into it. He's also a freelance games journalist who is slowly trying to take over the world. Not in a menacing way though, he'd probably just make everyone get pets or something.

Published Jan. 28th 2020

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