Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a brand new action 3D platformer developed by Right Nice Games and published by Grip Digital, which throws us back to the days of Banjo Kazooie, Spyro and Ratchet and Clank. This brand new story game aims to be a passionate homage to 3D platformers of the past, with a story, characters, environments and objectives that manage to do just that. You play as Skylar Lynxe, a feline with a cool robotic arm and on your journey you meet a friendly bird named Plux Owlsley, who will help guide you through the different terrains and achieve your ultimate goal, to defeat CRT and stop him turning your new-found home into a wasteland.
It was extremely obvious, even from the menu screen, that this game was a story game driven by nostalgic experiences. The cutscenes and the gameplay give off a very classic 3D platformer vibe and sent me straight back into the days of the Nintendo 64 and Playstation 1. It was also very obvious that the game wasn’t taking itself too seriously, what with the main villain always throwing jokes around and the game itself stating there would be plenty of cliches ahead.
The first and most noticeable cliché was that it was going to be a silent protagonist kinda game. The main character doesn’t speak at all, but instead the sidekick does all the talking. This of course has its good and its bad points. On the bright side it allows you to take in information from another perspective, as the sidekick Plux, well, doesn’t really do much. On the other hand however, it doesn’t really allow the player to bond at all with Skylar, and leaves it feeling bland and uninteresting at parts.
Gameplay and Collectibles
The gameplay itself is incredible easy to understand and it’s painfully obvious to someone who has played these types of games before. The gameplay seems far too focused on being easy to understand for the player, and even holds their hand during the puzzles that are dotted throughout the story. The final boss at the end of the game was also incredibly easy and seemed to lack any threat to the player.
One thing I did enjoy about the range of abilities is how they can be used to defeat different enemies and how effect certain abilities are in certain situations. I used the Jetpack jump to easily get around the large and open levels along routes that I don’t think I should have been using, but that in itself made the game more fun. The fact that I had the option to explore as much as possible gave me the opportunity to create my own objectives and ignore the A to B storyline for a few moments.
The Time Orb was another interesting ability, and proved incredibly useful when trying to escape enemies when on low health, or when trying to fight multiple enemies at once. I do however feel that this ability was under utilized and could have had a much larger role to play in terms of gameplay and inclusion in the puzzles.
The final ability, the magnetic glove, was indeed the best and most enjoyable ability given to me. The ability to pick up and launch smaller enemies into the air while switching between time stop and seeing how many I could throw up before the first fell was very addicting. That small ability to make mini games mid story was something I feel the game as a whole could of implemented a lot more.
The writing was incredibly cheesy at times and seemed to make important story related cutscenes boring instead of funny or exciting. The entire storyline plays out like a soap opera and is predictable from start to finish, even in terms of how each part of the story will play out. It seems that the game focused so hard on giving the nostalgic feeling and being “cliche” that it struggles as a whole to be unique and stand out from any other game trying to do the same. The fact that the game points out it has cliches within it is enough to make the story feel like it’s forced at times, and can make in game dialogue a bit out of place. I had a very difficult time enjoying the story as for the most part it was very self explanatory. Without a doubt the most enjoyable aspect of the story was CRT, the main enemy of the game. That character was without a doubt the best entry of all characters, and great voice acting aside, probably had the best back story and writing.
Graphics and Environment
For a game that aims to be like older titles, it does a wonderful job of combining the old and the new. The graphics are wonderful, but they’ve also all been presented in a way that makes the game still feel like it belongs in the era of Playstation 2 titles. That is not at all a bad thing as it helps to draw in the player and makes them feel more immersed in this lovable title. The environment is colourful and vibrant and blends multiple areas with ease. Never before have I seen tropical beaches, volcanic caverns, snowy mountain tops, and merciless deserts blended together so well as to make them feel they are all within a small island, but also all very unique and almost other worldly to each other.
The cutscenes are also a throwback style of still frames with dialogue and subtitles over them, but sadly, since the main character does not speak, it can make longer cutscenes featuring the main character feel very awkward and slow paced. As mentioned earlier, CRT steals the show with the comedic voice acting and character direction. CRT keeps players invested in the story as we tend to learn a lot more about his character than we did most others.
Soundtrack and Audio
The soundtrack for this game is wonderful. From the first time I heard it in the main menu I had high expectations for the music and audio throughout the game, and I was not disappointed. All of the areas in the game have their own unique music sets, and they work perfectly to create the required atmosphere. The music fits the tone of the game perfectly and achieves fully synchronizes with all story based events.
Audio in the game, such as sound effects and voices are also top quality. Although I could argue that the voices for the side characters are a bit basic, I feel that they also fit the type of characters that the villagers are, and thus work effectively.
It achieves its goal as wanting to feel like a homage to 3D platformers of the past. It was enjoyable down to the very last second. I do feel however that the story quality only picked up near the very end. Telling the entire backstory of the game in the first cutscenes is never a good idea, especially not for a story driven game, so I feel the game would have been more enjoyable if we learned the background information of the planet and characters as we played through the game. Although this game is relatively short it can take longer if you want to 100% complete it, which was quite fun to try and do so I would recommend it fully. The game costs $14.99 which is a fair price and worth the money. I would recommend.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island released today, May 19th, on Xbox One, PS4 and PC via Steam. You can check some of the most recent trailers below.
Release Date Trailer:
Grip Digital s.r.o. is a privately owned developer and publisher of games for consoles and high-end portable devices, based in Prague, Czech Republic. The company was started by industry veterans who worked on games across all major platforms. GRIP is working with the top independent developers to bring their games to console platforms and PC.
Right Nice Games
Right Nice Games AB is a newly founded independent game developer based in Stockholm, Sweden. The company was founded by four passionate students after gaining critical acclaim within the Swedish games industry with their latest project.
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(Images provided by Grip Digital)