STAFF REVIEW of SkyKeepers (Xbox One)


Sunday, April 16, 2017.
by Brent Roberts

SkyKeepers Box art It goes without saying that 2D platforming games have been around for decades. Giving your character a pathway where you jump and attack has always been a staple characteristic that has relied upon a story to deliver the symbiotic punch of entertainment. Recently, Sword Twin Studios released such a game called SkyKeepers on the Xbox One that is priced at $14.99. While on the average price range for an indie game, SkyKeepers tries to deliver a platforming experience that mixes parts of an ancient culture with an action packed story. Time to answer the all-important question: "Is SkyKeepers worth $14.99 + tax?"

I mentioned SkyKeepers delivers on an ancient culture, and it does. Starting as far back as thousands of years BC, the Austronesian tribal peoples developed centuries of art and culture, and by 400 AD they had started to call the islands of Hawaii home. This culture carried with it a mark of honor and respect and it's called the tatau. These magnificent works of art were worn on the body as signs of courage; however, the pain endured would be excruciating and when a tatau could take, in some instances, years to complete, this badge of honor was truly earned. Failure to finish the tatau process marked an individual with shame.

These sacred traditions are honored in the very beginning of SkyKeepers as the game opens up with the chief of the village Tangi going off on a hunt. His son wants to prove to his father that he is ready to become a man and receive his tatau. From this point on you control the son and SkyKeepers will take you on a simplistic walkthrough so you can get used to the controls.


During this 'introduction' you stumble upon your father Tangi who instructs you to run home. As you defy him, as all young kids do to their parents, he decides to put you through a test to determine if you are ready. Once the test is completed you'll head back to the village where you will tell the tattooist that you're ready. In order to get the ink needed you'll first need to harvest the leaves and the wood needed to acutally complete the tatau. Once all is done, a tragic experience occurs and the game instantly changes 180 degrees. It is here that the village falls into ruin and the story picks up years after that one fateful moment.

I'm deliberately omitting a section you'll experience in the beginning because if you do decide to spend the money to buy this game I don't want to ruin the any more of the plot for you. Ultimately, SkyKeepers boils down to chief Tangi coming to terms with what has happened and doing whatever he can to save his village, and if possible, himself as well.

You'll complete these tasks by venturing through different realms found in the game, and each realm has, within itself, multiple stages. Each stage is setup in your traditional block style mini map where white squares indicate pathways to other rooms. It is nothing innovative as we have seen elements of this structure type dating as far back as Metroid, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work wonderfully. While overly generic in terms of the structure of the levels themselves, each one is efficiently designed to provide a good challenge, and that is where I find some fault in the game.


Let's say you head out, like I did many, many times, and go through a level. In certain areas along the way you will find torches that you can light that act as checkpoints. Should you die before igniting one you will have to start over from the beginning. Now that normally would upset a lot of us, but thankfully the progress you make does save, sort of, and you can easily make your way back to where you originally expired. Should you not finish the level AFTER you hit a checkpoint, and do something like turn off the game or console, then you will have to start over from the beginning of the level with no progress saved at all.

As you progress through the levels you'll find that the gameplay mechanics are incredibly simplistic. The A button jumps, your X button attacks, and your Y button does a powered move that uses a meter that gets filled when you strike with the X button. Your B button does what is called a SkyWalk, which is a teleport shift of your character to certain access points on a level or even enemies themselves after you've hit your enemies with your X or Y attack. This incredibly generic gameplay works wonders for this style of platforming, because if you start to complicate and over think the gameplay mechanics then you will make it harder for your audience to enjoy the experience.

You will find that the combat element of the game resorts to a simplistic method of beat up enemies with the X button until you have enough for a special move with the Y button. Execute your special move and combine with the B button and you can dodge any type of incoming attack. Then it is rinse and repeat over and over again. The only issue I have here is that the combat gets ridiculously repetitive and instead of allowing you to move quickly from one area to another, the game essentially traps you into a room until you beat all the opponents, and then you can move on.


As you traverse the levels you'll acquire purple light orbs and shards, and it is by using these that you will rebuild the fallen village. It will take a lot of progress, but over time you'll be able to unlock new items and more. In order to do that though get ready for a titanic amount of hacking, slashing, and split second jumps that either mean heroic bravery or complete and total failure as a coward.

Given the simplicity, there really isn't much in the way of something that will really draw the audience into an experience that can sum up the whole game. Sadly, this also goes for the soundtrack which appears to just be a drum loop that you hear nonstop and it rarely ever changes. It got to the point where I just turned the volume down because I couldn't stand it anymore. I did however find the graphics to be very nice and a definite strong point to the game itself. I found that even though the concept never changed in terms of level design, each level and stage had its own unique feel.

So $14.99 buys you a game that has some issues in the areas of level design, soundtrack, repetitive combat, and an oversimplified gameplay system. But should you buy it? Absolutely and without question. If you enjoy a quality platformer then you will most-likely enjoy SkyKeepers. The frantic combat keeps you on the edge while the jumps and the gameplay will truly test you. While on the surface SkyKeepers may seem like a generic platformer, but Sword Twin Studios took the basic elements of great 2D platformers and adapted them to fit their narrative. So, while SkyKeepers may not be innovative, ground breaking or flawless, it's definitely a high quality 2D platformer for you to enjoy.




Overall: 7.3 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.8 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10

Comments

Site Statistics

Registered Members: 44,068
Forum Posts: 725,472
Xbox One Titles: 807
Xbox 360 Titles: 1,084
Xbox 360 Kinect Titles: 95
Xbox 360 Arcade Titles: 584
Xbox Titles: 847
Staff Reviews: 1,548
Member Reviews: 10,339
News Articles: 13,532
Screenshots: 29,765
Xbox 360 Achievements: 45,112
Xbox 360 Faceplates: 2,016
Cheat Codes: 1,706

Latest News








See News Archives

Community Forum Activity

Checking In 15 Years & Changes
Post by MixMasta
1 Replies, 1804 Views

Xbox Design Lab Controller Package
Post by oryanphine
5 Replies, 496 Views

Looking for Gears of War faceplates!
Post by jtcustoms
4 Replies, 620 Views

Upgraded 360 to One S, some XBLA games not showing as purchased
Post by DJ tx
4 Replies, 537 Views

Used version of Diablo 3
Post by Kamshaft
2 Replies, 509 Views

Xbox One Ea Sports
Post by oryanphine
0 Replies, 444 Views

Xbox One Halo Wars 2
Post by oryanphine
1 Replies, 453 Views

Pax East 2017 Boston
Post by oryanphine
3 Replies, 587 Views

Where is everyone?
Post by DJ tx
9 Replies, 791 Views

For anyone who went from Xbox 360 to the One S
Post by DJ tx
13 Replies, 1139 Views

Xbox One Games Of Thrones
Post by oryanphine
2 Replies, 590 Views

Halo Wars 2 TV Commercials
Post by Nato King
2 Replies, 712 Views

Ghost Recon Wildlands Closed Beta
Post by HaZarD SFD
32 Replies, 1645 Views

Gears of War 1-3 Keys.
Post by HaZarD SFD
1 Replies, 1115 Views

Xbox One NFL Superbowl LI
Post by oryanphine
1 Replies, 906 Views

© 2000-2017 XboxAddict.com - All rights reserved. All trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
Xbox is a registered trademark of Microsoft. XboxAddict.com is not affiliated with Microsoft.

Made in Canada
Site Design by Cameron Graphics