SkyKeepers, from Sword Twin Studios, is a new 2D platformer available on Steam. Although the graphics were the first thing to get me interested, frustration and bugs mounted to the point that I had to put SkyKeepers aside.

Story

The game begins with you playing as Pelagi, son of the chief, Tangi. Eager to become a man, Pelagi sets out to prove himself to his father and his village. However, the game quickly shifts priorities and story lines when the town is destroyed and Tangi is frozen in stone. You continue SkyKeepers as Tangi.

Sadly, I never had the opportunity to play as the chief. The game’s bugs and the resulting frustration kept me from ever reaching that point. I will say though, on the little I did get to play: The dialogue was very entertaining. Funny and witty, it definitely captured the tone of the beginning story line. The twist of starting out as Pelagi, only to play later as Tangi, was also interesting and I am disappointed I never got to experience that part of the story on my own.

Graphics

The graphics of SkyKeepers was definitely what first had me interested in the game. They are unique and cartoonish, but absolutely detailed. Movement of the environment, the enemies, and your character all flow together and look astounding.

Audio

The music and sound effects of the 2D platformer definitely fit the overall tone and graphics of the game. With a tribal look comes tribal music. I did run into a bug with the audio however. Although the soundtrack would usually shift between exploring and combat, it would often become stuck on the main soundtrack with zero sound effects from attacks or anything else.

Gameplay

Although I truly wanted to enjoy SkyKeepers, the gameplay kept me from immersing myself in their tribe and world. A controller is absolutely recommended as I couldn’t even figure out how to play with a keyboard. Each level contains plenty of jumping puzzles, enemies, and at least one checkpoint.

The tutorial starts simple enough, but quickly ramps up in difficulty to the point you are performing 7 step combos within 10 minutes of beginning the game. These are extremely finicky and even if you think you’re doing them correctly, the game insists you’re not. And trying to remember them in later levels was impossible (for me at least).

The controls in general follow that finicky nature; nothing is precise and even when you try to do a smaller combo, it rarely works. With plenty of places to fall, jumping can easily become extremely difficult.

One aspect that definitely made SkyKeepers stand out though was the ability called “Spirit Walk.” This allowed you to quickly teleport from one area of a map to another, given that there was either a box designed for spirit walking in the area or an injured enemy. It definitely added a whole new layer to a hack and slash game which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was quite fun to zoom around each area attacking mob after mob, even the ones that would fly high out of your reach.

That’s where the enjoyment ended for me and the bugs began. Shortly after finishing the tutorial, I ran into the audio bug I stated earlier but then began to run into two new ones. When you’re in combat, the game locks you into that room. You have to defeat the enemies to escape. Easy enough, except when your combos and attacks are so powerful they send your target through the floor. Suddenly, the enemy can’t return to the surface, but can still shoot at you, even if you can’t reach. Your options are to dodge forever or die and restart the level.

After the first time this happened, I believed it was just a one time bug. I died and restarted the level as any normal person would. However, it happened again, this time in a different room. I restarted again, but it continued to occur, possibly about 10 or more times on just one level. This obviously isn’t including the times I had to restart the level because I died or fell due to my own fault or quickly ramping difficulty.

In addition to this enemy stuck in the wall bug, I also ran into another, equally frustrating one: Twice when I hit “retry” after a death, instead of sending me to my checkpoint, it sent me to the menu screen. The two gameplay bugs combined with the audio bug was enough for me to turn it off at this point.

Verdict

SkyKeepers definitely has a unique story and gameplay idea behind the game, but the frustrating controls, game halting bugs, and imprecise movements make it difficult to recommend. However, if the bugs are corrected, it’s definitely one I can see myself revisiting to finish in the future thanks to it’s intriguing premise.