bhlaab's Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island (PlayStation 4) review

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Solid but slight

Skyler & Plux showed up on Steam and GoG one day and it looked like a complete ripoff of Ratchet & Clank, so I bought it the second it was 50% off. Unfortunately it's nothing like Ratchet & Clank (it's more like a mix of Jak & Daxter with Rayman 2). It seems these touchstones aren't accidental. All of the marketing materials specifically call out that it's a throwback to the sort of mascot platformers you'd see on the Playstation 2. To an extent, it succeeds at that.

I say to an extent because it's very clear that this is a low budget indie game. Not counting the tutorial, final boss arena, and the small hub area there are only three 20-minute long-ish levels. There are only a handful of enemy types, and the only boss you fight is the last one. In a lot of ways the game feels like a prototype for the big huge awesome sequel they're hoping they can make. But that slightness has its benefits. Compared to other indie 3D platformers it's more solid, it's less buggy, and it's more confident in what it does.

So what it does is send you through a handful of fairly linear levels. Your job is to get to the end. Scattered throughout are thousands of orange gems (think Ratchet's bolts). Along the way you can find "loa"s trapped in cages, and you can spend 100 gems to free them. Free enough of them and you can buy a life upgrade in the hub. In each level you get one new gadget. These are a hover pack, a time slowing device, and a gravity gun. And that's about it. The levels look very pretty, with long draw distances making a good show of places you've already been. While the platforming is never remotely difficult it is fun in a way that's reminiscent of those Playstation 2 games it draws inspiration from. It's just difficult enough to maintain casual interest. Finding all of the loas also makes for a decent scavenger hunt.

Whoever this is, they're no Plok.
Whoever this is, they're no Plok.

If there's a major issue with the game, it's that the character designs are well below par. Your main character is Skyler, a cat lady in an ugly space suit who seems like she would be appealing to the furry crowd if she didn't have this massively hung-over look on her face most of the time. Plux is her little bird friend. Usually in these buddy-duo games the sidekick helps the hero hover or attack or something. Plux just kind of hangs out and yells a lot. He has a lot of "tude". The bad guy is a computer robot named CRT. He constantly taunts you over the radio and acts a lot like Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2. He even sounds a lot like Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2. The loa you save from cages are these squishy blob creatures which don't really rouse the spirit. Pro tip for any 3D platformer designers: a collectible critter needs to be marketable. Like...gobbos! Who doesn't want to find a gobbo?

And that's about it. The graphics are nice. The music is soothing and jaunty. The controls feel nice. Level 2 has a fun time-bubble gimmick that rips off that desert area from Zelda: Skyward Sword. It's a pretty good game for what little of it there is. If you like stupid cartoon games for babies give this one a shot. And if it ever happens, that big huge awesome sequel might be something to look out for.

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