Once, there was a paradise island, ruled by four brothers. They were not mere sovereigns but divinities, who one day began to quarrel and attack each other, for no apparent reason. The worst was Terry, the weakest, stripped of his lands and forced to witness a conflict that is still jeopardizing the very existence of the island today. Terry, however, has a plan: to bring a mutant skull back to life and send it on a mission to reconcile the family, all thanks to some magic clay.
Skully, this is the name of both the protagonist and the game developed by Finish Line Games, does not have a body but can boast a perfectly round skull, which allows it to roll at high speed through the eighteen levels into which the island is divided. Small leaps and the ability to cling to particularly sticky grass help him reach otherwise inaccessible places.
And it starts immediately with a rather high pace between climbs, descents, ramps, parabolic curves, precipices and magical flowers to be collected in the most inaccessible points. If it looks like just a clone of Marble Madness or the more recent Marble Blast Ultra, you will change your mind, as long as you dedicate some time to it. Pools of magical clay are scattered throughout the disputed island and, in addition to serving as a checkpoint, as the adventure progresses, they allow Skully to acquire different bodies, each with its own peculiarities.
We’ll soon find a way to play a strong golem with powerful fists, perfect for smashing rocks and knocking down stone pillars, and also capable of throwing his own head – Skully himself – at incredible distances to reach the most unthinkable places.
This will be followed by a little guy who can run very fast and move certain types of platforms with his mind, and finally a being with branches on his head with the ability to double jump and levitate. We will also be able to temporarily abandon the body we are controlling to create another one, up to a maximum of three at the same time, and create a sort of team for which there is not a corner of the map too difficult to explore.
Frantic in the sections where Skully rolls through the levels, the pace changes as creatures come into action and winks at fans of the metroidvania genre, requiring a more reasoned approach to deciding who will come into play. Although in many cases the choice is forced by the conformation of the terrain, the sections in which several creatures have to collaborate are definitely interesting, in a successful combination of environmental puzzles, millimeter jumps and sudden changes of direction. It is a shame, however, that these challenges only appear in the final levels, making the first half of the adventure much flatter than one would expect from this concept.
The evil brothers obviously did not limit themselves to endangering the lands in their possession, but also populated them with hostile creatures. Unlike the baddies of other video games who waste energy infesting the levels with dozens of different monsters, destined to succumb one after the other, the cheerful little family has however decided to play for savings and therefore Skully’s bestiary has only two pages , depicting a cross between a water balloon and Monsta, the Bubble Bobble whale, and a possessed volcanic rock.
Despite some issues with controlling Skully, the game both a fun platformer and puzzler that will last you a good few hours