It tries, but just can’t quite make it.
In the PlayStation 2 days, I was a huge fan of character platforming games, and let’s be honest, there were a TON of them on that system. In recent years, with a few exceptions, this genre has fallen by the wayside. Skylar and Plux tries to change that, and bring back the platformer in indie form. While it tries its best to do just that, it does fall flat in many ways.
Skylar and Plux is about two unlikely heroes. Skylar is captured and experimented on by the evil CRT, who grafts a special robotic arm to Skylar. This arm becomes self aware and decides to help Skylar escape CRT’s mothership. They crash land on a nearby planet on Clover Island. Here, they meet a very talkative bird who is in search of his father. They team up when CRT decides to invade the planet and capture its inhabitants.
Platforms: PC, XB1, PS4
Price I’d pay: $7
The game itself is very reminiscent of Jak and Daxter. Skylar has a punch attack as well as an area of attack spin move that can dispose of enemies. Mix that with some gadgets from Ratchet and Clank like an electric arm swing and limited jetpack, and we have ourselves a full on homage to the character platformers.
The island itself is divided into areas that are rather seamless when traveling. There is a hub area that players can go back to to talk to the village leader. Around the areas, players will find captive villagers. Saving them by spending collectibles at their cages will allow Skylar to travel back to the village leader, where she can upgrade Skylar’s health. Aside from a few other upgrades, this will be the main thing players will be going for.
While never a difficult game, it is more about exploration than anything. Most areas are open ended, where finding all the captured villagers becomes a goal. It works, and kept me looking around for the most part.
Now, you may have noticed that many of the paragraphs in this review are short and don’t have much detail to them. The reason why is because Skylar and Plux is just a rather featureless game. While it visually looks really nice, the game play, story, and overall presentation is just bland. CRT sounds like a wannabe Handsome Jack, while Plux feels like he’s only there to talk about what’s happening. Combat is never really challenging, and with the limited attacks it never deviates much. On top of all this, the game itself can be beaten in around 3 hours. That’s really short, even for a character platformer.
The biggest issue of them all is the performance. In many areas, the framerate will dip to dangerous levels. I’m talking making playing it rough. It was very jarring at times, and I would have to pause the game just to get my bearings in some instances. Along with that, the initial loading time when I first booted up the game was one minute and 40 seconds. I know. I timed it.
I look at Skylar and Plux as the Little Engine that Could, but it ends up being the one that just couldn’t. I really wanted to like it, but with the glaring issues, it’s hard to recommend without a significant price drop. The platforming and jumping works and is actually very tight. That’s what kept me going. It’s bland in most aspects, but there is something there behind the surface. If you can find it, you may get some enjoyment out of it. Even then, I would still wait for a price cut.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.