A little bit of old school collectathon design from Banjo & Kazooie, some Kula World rolling and the ability to transform like Knack and you have Skully from developer Finish Line Games. It’s a weird mix of ingredients, but if my time with the first two chapters is telling of anything, this isn’t a game you need to scratch your scalp about, it’s one to keep your head on for. 

On an island paradise that’s been untouched by mankind, a family conflict between several deities risks putting the paradise at risk of being destroyed. One of those deities, however, decides to enlist help to try and put a stop to the quarrelling and that’s where Skully comes in. The re-animated skull is brought ‘back to life’ and given some magical abilities. One of those is the ability to roll around as a skull in the first place, but another is the ability to dive into mud pools and mould it into a clay creature.


The first two chapters of Skully are rather tutorial-full but gave me a good example of what the moment-to-moment action will be in the full release. 

As with all good mascot-platformers of ye-old-yesterday, Skully is equal parts platforming, collecting and combat. The platforming is a mix of simply third-person jumping, but also several tight sections where you’re surrounded by water and you need to roll Skully carefully through without falling into the water which is Skully’s kryptonite. These sections reminded me of the PS1 classic Kula World as you need to use momentum to make certain 90-degree rolls across elevated bridges and also take several sections slow and steady. None of it was as hard as Kula World, but I am hoping for some slightly more challenging sections in the full game.

Throughout the two chapters, there was an abundance of flowers to collect — Chapter Two had 450 of these things to find. The majority are found easily on your direct path as you make it around the mostly linear level, but others were hidden, or below you in sections that required some level of platforming and usually at the risk of falling into the water and your doom. Every 50 or so collected I was unlocking art from the game, which seems to be the main pull to find them all, other than just that 100%er mentality.

Combat was the least interesting part of the first two chapters, but I think it was just because the initial enemies are rather weak. I know there are stronger things to come later in the game, as is teased in the trailer of the game (watch above). What you do fight are these blobs that explode into the water and, obviously harm Skully. But Skully is able to fight back by diving into a mud-puddle and transforming into a clay golem that can do a ground-pounding attack that destroys them. 

The golem can also destroy things blocking Skully’s path and at times you need to find a mud-puddle to transform, before jumping out of the golem and back to skull-form to traverse small-holes and pathways. 

You can have three clay bodies sitting around at one time, although within what I played there was no ability to control or use all three at one time, though it’s clearly going to be something that’s used later in the game.

In the full game, there will be 18 levels that take place over 7 different ecosystems. As seen in the trailer there’s clearly a fire section and what I played was in a lush-green location. Skully does look beautiful as well with vibrant colours and wonderful detail in animations such as the slight grass-bits sticking out your clay-form bouncing up and down as you move. 

I’m looking forward to playing the rest of Skully next month and putting a stop to the family quarrel ravaging this island. There’s a charm to the characters and world so far in what I’ve played and the urge to find every flower in each is sure to get me. 

Skully releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on August 4th, 2020

(Skully code provided for preview)