Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a 3D Platformer that was co-developed by Right Nice Games and Grip Digital with the latter also doing the publishing of the game. It is a platformer that is very much in the vein of those found in the 90s and the following decade. The game stars a humanoid cat by the name Skylar and an owl named Plux who acts as the comic relief sidekick in the adventure. These two unlikely heroes join forces in order to free the tormented natives from Clover Island from an evil robot. Fans of the genre will find many similarities to franchises like Ratchet & Clank, Banjo-Kazooie and Jak & Daxter. However, this new entry does carve out its own place in the slowly but surely reviving 3D platformer genre of old.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island released on May 19th for PS4, Xbox One and PC. The game is currently priced at around $10 for a number of these platforms for a very limited time. It should be going back at $14.99 soon after. The game came be purchased at online stores such as Amazon or the PSN. This review is also based on the PS4 version of the game.
The game begins with a comic strip intro that shows Skylar tied up on an experimentation lab. She soon wakes up and learns that she is located on a mysterious space station and that she has been part of some experiment at the hands of an evil robot by the name CRT and his assistant Bob. In this short segment we learn that Skylar was captured after she tried to steal something from the villain. Our heroine is told that she has no memory of what really transpired because CRT conveniently erased it and is also informed that she has been equipped with a very useful robotic arm.
Conscious of the danger of sticking around any further at the space station, our hero makes a daring escape and manages to get on a pod that within minutes has to quickly make an emergency landing at the planet where Clover Island lies. A chance of fate has the owl Plux, who's parents are away, meet Skylar and in a conversation with the latter's robotic arm he learns that the stranded heroine needs to find a progenitor structure known as Syphon in order to regain the memories she lost. Plux is very quick to lend a hand and gets Plux involved on a quest to both restore the fuses needed to bring back the progenitor system back online as well as help rescue the captured Clover Island inhabitants, the Lo'a.
The story is very insignificant in this game although it does enough to then launch the player in a quest to stop the evil robot and regain Plux's erased memories. There is a notorious lack of character interaction or development between Skylar and Plux. These two meet and are very willing to work together even though they are total strangers. Further, the decision by the developers to make of Skylar a silent heroine prevents any meaningful characterization of the main protagonist. This is offset a little by the comic strip animations at the beginning and end of the game. It's a shame though that there weren't any other comic strip cutscenes in the game as in them at least Skylar portrays some emotion through her various gestures. Thank God that Plux, CRT and Bob rant periodically during the adventure as that at least gives the story some life and sometimes funny bits of entertainment.
Other than combat, the adventure does feature some puzzles throughout that will have you using the various gadgets you find in order to solve them. The puzzles are for the most part incredibly easy and should not take you a long time to solve them. However, their inclusion does add some much needed variety to what otherwise would have been a too repetitive traversal across stages with occasional enemy thrashing. Unfortunately, it is also with the puzzles that the game shows its uglier side with some game-ruining glitches. I had quite the terrible experience with these.
One of the puzzle areas near the end of the game had what appears to be a severe glitch. A bunch of mirrors that should have loaded did not and therefore I could not advance as I had to reflect some light off of them in order to open a door. I tried loading and re-loading the save file to no avail and even re-starting the game and the PS4 with the same bad luck. I have to confess that I could not complete the game due to this. Fortunately, I was able to watch a game playthrough for the remaining of the game elsewhere. While I understand that not every gamer has experienced the same glitches that I have, it is still a pretty disappointing experience. It is my hope that the developers can take a look at these issues and fix them with a patch as the experience was pretty polished for me until that puzzle moment.
Finally, optional to the game is the searching for the caged Lo'a natives scattered across the different areas of the island. The game features shards that you collect that serve to both restore lost life hearts as well as currency to use in order to free the imprisoned Lo'a. As optional as it is, the game does throw a reward based on how many of these Lo'a you set free. Similar to the Legend of Zelda series, you gain additional hearts as a reward for freeing the natives that you find in off beaten paths.
Graphics & Audio
On the other hand, the sound department is perhaps one of the game's stronger points. The soundtrack melodies that accompany you throughout are inspiring and well thought out. The music variety make each area to feel distinct with some even featuring some Celtic influence. The sound effects that come from jumping and combat are also very realistic and immersive with the highlight being some of the fine sound effects produced in combat and the various special gadgets. All in all, the sound does a more than acceptable job in bringing Clover Island to life.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a decent 3D Platformer that will help in reviving the troubled genre it now belongs to. It does not invent the wheel for it in any way but does manage to make an enjoyable adventure nonetheless. The game features more actual platforming than Ratchet & Clank and it does so flawlessly with camera angles that rarely put you on any kind of compromising situation. The move set and gadgets included in the game is competent and makes one ponder how much better a sequel could be. The flow of the game is brought down by the lack of variety in enemies and especially by the lack of additional bosses in the game. Yet the novelty that the gadgets bring to both traversal and combat as well as the puzzles, even if easy, do help to establish a pacing that keeps you wanting to advance and see what's next.
However, some of the glitches in the game are very severe and may prevent you from completing the adventure unless you erase and re-install the game. A weak story and characters to care for are also a downside. As controlling a silent protagonist may not have been the best idea but the dialogue rantings of the surrounding cast do help to bring to life everybody else in some level of depth. For a game born out of a Kickstarter project, this is not a bad effort although hopefully a sequel can be a little longer than 3-4 hours. It is a bite-sized adventure that is not all that challenging but still enjoyable.
|+ Controls are tight and very responsive.||– Length of the game is too short.|
|+ Great visuals and carton comic strip cutscenes||– Lack of more enemy types and bosses.|
|+ Supporting character rants can be funny at times.||– Story and character interaction is very poor.|