During 2018 a particular independent game called Skelattack: a small rogue-like with a retro mold who saw us in the role of a skeleton intent on defending his dungeon against a host of heroes whose intentions were anything but right. The project seemed very interesting and thanks to several demos, a certain slice of the public had become attached to that pile of bones armed with a sword. Unfortunately, however, for years the release date, initially set for 2018, has never been officially revealed, leaving the project in the dark at least until today.
Skelattack, thanks to the publication of Konami, will in fact be released shortly on all promised platforms, taking us to the depths of the earth to face the so-called heroes. But is the journey really worth going through eternal undead?
It all starts in the lowest level of the subsoil, where a population of skeletons, monsters and other creatures considered “evil” have built a small town to live in peace. From the outside, no one could consider such a peaceful population a threat, yet anyone there knows that humans in the world above are obtuse and making them change their mind is much more difficult than hiding and defending their borders from time to time.
This is until our young skeleton is asked to complete a maturity test within the Path of the Warrior in the dungeon. Everything would have gone well if it wasn’t that, at the end of the test, the village is attacked by humans in search of an ancient artifact with extraordinary powers, a sacred treasure for the cave population and which supplies the lifeblood to undead skeletons. Unfortunately, however, to reach him this handful of “heroes” has decided to exterminate whatever being stood before him and kidnap the elderly keeper of the Blue Flame, forcing our skeleton to go into the dungeon to chase them, have revenge and save the poor old man who he has been a guide throughout his life.
Simple premises that accompany a humorous plot despite the dark tones. The oddity of each inhabitant comes out at every dialogue, demonstrating that there is more goodness in the dungeon than you might think. If the mission against humanity always remains at the base, each level is seasoned with strange characters with whom to deal, help or simply exchange a chat with friends. On the other hand, Skelattack does not take itself too seriously, also because the two protagonists – the skeleton and his bat companion – are the most modern comic duo of the fantasy scenario, juggling spicy exchanges and pricks against anyone who comes within range.
The humor devised by Ukuza is therefore his greatest strength, showing that writing in a dungeon crawler of this type is always a factor you can focus on to characterize your title. However, if we take away the early evening cartoon patina, Skelattack as a game has several problems that are difficult to hide with laughter.
Bones and swords
At the base of his system there is a platform soul that allows us to scroll through the various levels in the most classic 2D perspective. Jumps, obstacles, mobile platforms and bullets to avoid will be on the agenda, making the crossing in the dungeon a good test for the skill of the players. To this must be added the combative component of the game, where armed with sword and diversified magic we will have the opportunity to fight every human being that annoys us too much. All this, on paper, aligns with those experiences at La Deadcells, which combine crossings in narrow places with clashes with a light RPG sauce, which also in the case of Skelattack rely on currencies to be collected from defeated enemies or reaching particular ravines of the levels.
Skelattack however loses blows in the level design, both in exploration and in combat. When crossing the various areas the controls are very imprecise, especially if it is a question of reaching platforms with a double jump or a small bat flight. The thrust of the jump and the direction in the air are not enough to overcome many of the proposed obstacles, especially because the game insists on having to base most of its dangers on the jump.
Generally this would not be such an influential problem, it would be enough to adapt a minimum, however the positioning of some dangers such as “spikes” on the surfaces causes each of these errors to become very little merciful. The hitbox of items like this is sometimes inaccurate and, in addition, any currency is lost dying on them ends up getting trapped almost inside the object itself. Over and over again I gave up collecting lost gems precisely because approaching them even a little would have meant another death. From here, it is understandable why there is an overabundance of checkpoints.
Finally, even if of little relevance, it is frustrating to find objects or buildings in the levels and to see them practically glued to the background despite being in the foreground, without the possibility of being able to climb on it or interact in any way. A symptom of laziness, which one would not expect after all this time from the announcement. The same can be said of the fights: the enemies are rigid on the spot, they do not suffer repercussions and approaching even a little means suffering damage without any kind of animation or sense. If you remove the spells then, most of the struggles are of little consequence and are reduced to a spam of the attack button that makes any encounter trivial. The only exception is in the various “bosses”, which present interesting mechanics and a fair level of challenge in which to exploit all the powers of the protagonist.
The gameplay, in essence, trudges on the same elements on which it wants to be based, trying to support the weight of the success of Skelattack by beautiful cartoony animations that Uzuka has created. The details of the movements of the protagonist and his companion, as well as life in the skeletal city, are excellent and all in all valid alone for the frustrating journey between the various levels of the dungeon, made at least livable – in addition to the humor – by the pleasant music of accompaniment.