Right Nice Games‘ first foray into games development comes in the form of a homage to classic 3D platformers resembling the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, promising not only a throwback, but a comeback. But does it deliver?
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island sees you start out on a tutorial-based level as Skylar, a cat that has been cybernetically re-constructed and had her memories wiped by the evil CRT. Introducing you to the basic mechanics of the game, it immediately brings back nostalgia as you familiarise yourself with the traversal manoeuvres of yesteryear. Soon after you escape CRT’s orbital lair; along with your new talking mechanical arm, you land on Clover Island – home to Plux the pigeon, who has the temperament of a hyperactive toddler, whom unfortunately is stuck with you, as it seems his only purpose in this title is to guide you every now and then.
This game starts you on a linear path, only to gradually open the island more to become a huge open-world platforming adventure. Gems are the collectibles of choice in this title and can be found throughout the island. Many gems lead you in the direction you need to go, whilst others can be found by smashing crates and vases or by destroying enemies. Gems also have healing properties which means if you’re running low on health, collecting enough of them will heal you more.
Once you meet the elder Lo’a of the island, she will inform you of her children locked in cages scattered around the island. Saving a required amount of them will grant you extra health hearts to aide you on your journey. Some Lo’as are in plain sight but most will require you to explore a little. Other Lo’as may involve you returning later once you’ve unlocked new gadgets. There are many gadgets on the island that open up more traversal options for you to locate these hidden Lo’s or progress further throughout the island. Use your mechanical arm to manipulate platforms, swing across large gaps and unlock the jet pack to allow you to jump higher or hover, which can only be performed for as long as you have enough energy. Checkpoints throughout the world will save your progress to that point once reached however, if you die, you’ll respawn at the last checkpoint and you’ll lose any gems collected or Lo’as saved, so to avoid the grind early on, play it safe. Once you’ve collected around 20 or so Lo’as, you’ll have plenty of health for this not to be a worry. Thankfully, since this is somewhat of an open-world, certain checkpoints can be fast-travelled to and from making it easier to save your progress, once this feature has been unlocked.
There are few loading screens that you’ll see, but this does have a drawback as the frame rate seems to drop quite often, particularly straight after a loading screen but not enough to hinder your enjoyment from this title. The rocket jump can be a minor annoyance since you are required to hold down the trigger then press the jump button, but this takes a couple of seconds to kick in and more often than not, you’ll perform a standard jump which may result in your demise.
Along with the likes of Yooka-Laylee, this title could help with the rebirth of 3D platforming, capturing the hearts of old fans of the genre and newcomers who have been inundated with first person shooters. It’s just a shame that this is a fairly short title, but hunting down those Lo’s offers slight replayability.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island can be downloaded digitally from the Xbox Store, priced at £11.99.
A homage to classic 3D platformers, Skylar & Plus offers great platforming with familiar mechanics, set in an open-world full of gorgeous graphics and simple gameplay.