Oh boy oh boy, When I got my grubby little hands on a copy of Skul: The Hero Slayer, I got immediately excited. An amazing looking new roguelite? Score!
Upon launching Skul you are instantly met with an epic, symphonic soundtrack that builds in intensity – equally mirroring my hype to initiate the gameplay.
I had to take a moment here to remind myself that I shouldn’t get so worked up in order to not feel disappointed if the game wouldn’t live up to my – by this point – very high expectations.
Skul is the name of the adorable protagonist with formidable fighting prowess, who wakes up in the midst of a great battle. His skeleton kin lay scattered across the battlefield and the Demon King has been captured by the Imperial Army. Only Skul can save the day.
In typical rogue-lite fashion, each playthrough consists of procedurally generated levels and items meaning that no two experiences are ever the same. The boss fights are challenging and each death relinquishes you of your hard earned gold and items.
Playing the game, whilst challenging, is so much fun. Constantly keeping you on your toes with fast paced fighting mechanics. After clearing a map you are rewarded with either a new skull, gold, or an item.
Furthermore, if Skul stumbles upon a skull of a fallen skeleton, he is able to switch their skull with his own; gaining the power that the skeleton possessed in “life”. You can carry a maximum of two skulls and switch between them as required to best deal with the challenges that lie ahead. Each skull is unique, with their own attack range, power and speed.
The black market shows up twice per stage and gives you a chance to spend all of that gold you’ve fought so hard for. Giving you options for new upgrades or increasing your HP, as well as letting you take a moment to rest and to talk to the lovely inhabitants of this calm sanctuary.
Feeling powerful now that you’ve healed or bought new items – or perhaps if you are lucky, maybe both. You are presented with an ominous red door; broken arrows sticking out of it, signalling further battles. Weary and with a growing sense of dread you pass through it to find one of the brave human adventurers. It’s miniboss time!
Show your worth against the bravest of humans as they wage their war against the monsters. Skul must utilise his arsenal of skulls and items in order to defeat each distinctive miniboss and their unique fighting mechanics.
The items that you get from minibosses will have one major upgrade and two subcategories. It took me a while to realise the importance of the subcategories, as you collect more of the same category the passive of that category gets more and more powerful.
Along the journey, you are accompanied by music so evocative that it sends shivers down your spine. Every single piece of the score is carefully crafted to convey the mood of the different areas, and it really works.
Whilst being stunned by the sirensong, the graphics are also bewitching – with some of the best pixel-art environments I’ve seen in a long while, giving you that nostalgic feel.
At this point I’ve already spent countless hours in this game – trying to get every upgrade and every skull to max level. The only downsides I can see is the lack of changes to the dialogue after interacting with characters. Despite the challenging boss fights, it would be great to see major bosses having different versions so that every run was even more unique.
Overall I would highly recommend this game to anyone that is a fan of roguelites or roguelikes, and those who just want to have a good time! Skul: The Hero Slayer is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in recent times – SouthPaw Games are one to watch.