Most everyone loves a good dungeon crawling Metroidvania adventure. Can you blame them? You get to be a larger-than-life hero. They’re fun, frustrating, and provide hours of entertainment in the form of puzzles, monster fighting, exploration and backtracking. Lots and lots of backtracking. Plus, you get to hunt for treasure! Who doesn’t love treasure?
Skelattack, from developer Ukuza and published by Konami, provides just about everything you’d ever want from a traditional Metroidvania dungeon crawler, plus a little extra. It’s visually beautiful, challenging, and subversive in all the right ways to keep things interesting.
Skelattack subverts the typical narrative of the genre by reversing the roles; you play as Skully, an adorable skeleton trying to retrieve memories of his past life while protecting the city of Aftervale from invading humans. You are accompanied by an adorable bat companion, Imber. As you comb through the various dungeons you’ll retrieve bits and pieces of your memories, and make new ones along the way, by helping a colorful cast of characters that, despite their silliness, have some surprisingly heartfelt dialogue. They also drop some very relevant and realistic advice. I can always appreciate a dash of seriousness in an otherwise lighthearted game.
In the spirit of a true Metroidvania, Skelattack has quite a few areas of difficulty. These difficult areas are bolstered by the jump mechanics, which are a bit awkward to work with at first, but gradually become easier to use. Some areas are almost overcrowded with obstacles and others require extreme precision. This can be frustrating, but it’s so rewarding when you finally figure them out and get to continue your journey.
Plus, these frustrating parts are made better by all of the fun things in the game, like the gelatinous cubes that heal you or the sassy signs you’ll find randomly throughout the dungeons that tell you how many times you’ve died. Speaking of death, there are plenty of checkpoints scattered throughout to keep you moving forward; you come across them right before and after particularly tricky areas and randomly throughout dungeons. Its nice to not be transported to the beginning of the dungeon every time you die. Trust me, my death count clocked in at nearly 700 so these things are lifesavers.
Skelattack is a win, and makes an impressive debut for Ukuza. This game is full of heart and humor, offering Metroidvania fans another challenging, yet satisfying adventure starring an unusual hero on an unusual quest. The art style and animation are fantastic (and adorable!), the soundtrack enjoyable, the dialogue witty, and the cast of characters are charming and funny. Make no bones about it, if you’re looking to kill a few hours and love a good challenge – and puns – Skelattack might be for you.