Skylar and Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a platformer in a similar vein to a Ratchet and Clank and Yooka-Laylee. The player takes on the role of thief Skylar, an anthropomorphic but mute cat. In the beginning we are shown her imprisoned in the spaceship of fiendish villain CRT having been both caught and fitted with high tech robotics. With no memory of how or why she got there the player takes on the role of Skylar as she not only makes her escape (during the tutorial) but attempts to find the three fuses required by the Elder Lo’a (inhabitant) of the island on which she lands. Ably assisted by Plux, a seemingly unpopular owl, the player must navigate through each zone on the island defeating enemies and constantly climbing towards each zone’s fuse.
The game is pleasing visually, with each area being filled with colour and variety, however this is let down by the seeming lack of due consideration given to playability. The game lags frequently which makes it extremely difficult to time your jumps and swings properly. The issue really is consistency; if the game required you to take things slowly each time, though this would be incredibly frustrating, at least the player would know where they stood. However, with the way this game currently plays it is possible to lose a life from the third straightforward jump in a series simply due to lag. It seems as though the depth and quality of the visuals require too much processing for the game to load sufficiently quickly given the fast paced nature of the gameplay.
Watch the Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island launch trailer below:
The sound will, I’m certain, divide players. Though the music is pleasant and suitably varied for each environment, it is interrupted consistently by voiceover dialogue between Plux and CRT. The two have constant conversations through an unknown means whilst you are playing in an attempt to progress the backstory without the use of cut scenes. Whilst I understand the need for the story to be filled in, the method by which it is accomplished feels forced. It’s as though the developers finished the game and upon realising that they had given no reason for the game to take place simply booked a recording studio and inserted some rather wooden audio. That’s not to say that the dialogue is not entertaining, it is, but in many ways it detracts from the gameplay. I have now finished the game and still feel unclear about many aspects of the story as I missed much of the dialogue due to concentrating on playing. Many people will pick up on the language of Plux as a point of criticism. Throughout these dialogues Plux and CRT will often trade insults using choice language such as ‘turd’ and ‘butthole’ which though not overly shocking may be raise a few parental eyebrows and could be considered inappropriate on a game rated at 7+.
As you move through the game, upgrades on Skylar’s abilities are presented including the rocket jump and the ability to slow down time to make it across fast moving platforms. Though these abilities are fun to use, in reality they are not required often enough for them to add to the challenge of the gameplay which at best is fairly formulaic. This lack of variety is further illustrated by the enemies; there are only three types. Once you have worked out how to combat each type of enemy it becomes relatively straightforward to defeat them and progress regardless of their number. This allied with the lack of any real platform innovation or use of classic aspects of platformer gameplay such as climbing, end of level bosses or solving puzzles makes Skylar and Plux frustratingly easy to complete, I played for a little under two hours and have completed it.
View some Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island screenshots in our gallery:
I was also slightly disappointed by Plux as a character. So often in platform games with two protagonists each has their role to play throughout the adventure, often involving the player taking control of them both. However, in this game Plux has no real purpose aside from moving the plot along with his narration which, as previously discussed, will divide players and personally I felt detracted from a decent gaming experience. I would have hoped that the sidekick in this game would have had some part to play in the absence of adequate cut scenes (which generally seem to be almost static cartoon cells with audio overlaid) but unfortunately the developer seems to have cut back on actual storytelling and gone for a more laissez-faire option.
The nostalgia of a new platform game was one I was greatly looking forward to, the trailers for the game raised my hopes that this could be an unexpected success in a similar vein to former favourites like Bugs Bunny Lost in Time on PlayStation. Instead I was left feeling disappointed by this Hawaiian feline Bourne Identity. The gameplay in the main is acceptable and the visuals are very pleasing however they are let down by fundamental issues with characterisation, challenge and story, which is not to mention the serious lack of length. Did I enjoy my time exploring Clover Island? Yes, I did. Did I feel nostalgic for my old GameCube and PS1 titles? Yes I did. The issue is that the nostalgia I experienced was one of ‘I know how this could have been done better, like that game I really loved’ rather than a purely positive one. Skylar and Plux: Adventure on Cover Island is a good little game for younger players which will surely entertain, though given the length and complexity I would question the price tag (over £13 in the UK) and suggest that there are overall better games out there, even if they happen to be in the ‘Retro’ category.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: Grip Digital Developer: Really Nice Games Release Date: May 19, 2017 Reviewed On: PS4 Also On: Xbox One, PC/Steam