Being rejected is never easy, but in Skellboy, the king's evil court magician Squaruman took revenge to another level. Fueling his anger and rage, he resurrects the dead, bringing the ancient evils that once roamed the land back to life. In his hubris, the once-great hero, Skippy, rises from his grave as well, although in skeletal form. A knight's suit armor is for the living, and although you have returned, you'll swap out body parts from fallen foes to cleanse the world of Cubold.
Skellboy evokes the essence of classic action-adventure titles; however, the world design is quite linear throughout the first few hours. Although you can wander around, places are gated off until you are supposed to be there. Without the inclusion of any minimap, it is quite easy to find yourself in the incorrect place, and therefore running around aimlessly until you reach the area that allows you to progress. This in itself is not necessarily a terrible design, but the slow-pace your character moves means it takes forever to travel. Not only that but playing on the Nintendo Switch, there is frequent stuttering when transitioning between zones. On multiple occasions, this had led to a death.
The second half of the game almost feels like an entirely different experience, allowing you to traverse easily and focuses more on exploration and side quests. The isometric fixed camera swings around as you move about the environments; however, it can be a tad finicky in specific areas, especially in the tight corridor sewer sections. The boxy, cardboard cutout visuals are a treat to experience, although it can be challenging to recognize items on the ground.
There are various weapon types, such as clubs that feature charge up attacks, dishing out extra damage, and destroying parts of the environment. Swords are perfect for close-range combo attacks. For example, the "cuttana" features a swift 3-hit combo, while "einszweidreihaender" (yes, that is the real name) is one of the best swords in the game, and has a combo that ends with a 360-degree swing. I got a chuckle out of swinging an old baguette, the longest sword in the game, but it crumbles after successful hits. Lances, once charged, can be thrown at enemies, but you need to wait for it to recharge before being able to attack again. Axes are best used to destroy the deadly red vines, but one of my favorite weapons is the "candy cone" wand. Comedically, it can turn one enemy into a walking cupcake, but the hit detection doesn't feel right. In fact, combat overall doesn't feel great. Enemies can instantly damage you, even when stunned. Multiple occasions that I got hit when on top of a table in the castle section of the game, also though the enemy swords shouldn't be able to reach. It's an exciting concept having 2D characters in a 3D world, but the mechanics don't seem quite ready.
The key mechanic in Skellboy allows you to swap out body parts from fallen enemies. Equipping the red knight's armor piece provides additional life, but slows your already pitiful walking speed down even further. There isn't any way to keep more than one at a time, so you'll have to decide on the fly which to use. However, as you approach the spinning items on the ground, there isn't any indicator of what it is or what effects come with it without equipping them first and pausing the game. Countless times, I've ended up equipping worse items, such as the cardboard sword (the first sword you get in the game), or boots that leave puddles of fire that can hurt you. Extra components can be added to your body, such as a "bellypumpkin," acting as armor to supplement your health. As you defeat enemies or destroy boxes/random objects, things can get quite cluttered, although most elements will eventually disappear over time.
There aren't many checkpoints in the game (where you respawn upon dying), and it can be quite frustrating when combined with the overly slow movement of your character. Yes, you can find specific items to equip movement speed, but even then, the pace is still unbelievably slow.
I thoroughly enjoyed the visual style of Skellboy with everything resembling thick cardboard cutouts. The concept of using 2D with a 3D world is fantastic, but the execution falls flat. The combat is cumbersome, the music is highly repetitive, and the performance on Switch is not that great.Note: Skellboy was reviewed on Switch. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.