It’s hard not to compare Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island with the likes of Ratchet & Clank or Jak & Daxter. This new, indie-developed 3D action adventure borrows a lot from its platforming brethren which came before, which is a good and a bad thing.
It’s good, because there’s a serious lack of 3D platformers on the market. Recent releases like Yooka-Laylee may have confirmed that a revival of the genre is on the horizon, but the titles are few and far between. Skylar & Plux helps fill that void, giving gamers a colourful, tongue-in-cheek hopping, collecting, and smashing adventure that we’ve been craving.
However, on the bad side of the comparison scale, making references to the likes of Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank series is always going to put the contender in question at a disadvantage, due to one reason, Ratchet & Clank games are good. Very good.
Adventure on Clover Island shares a similar futuristic, anthropomorphised milieu, but does that put it in Ratchet & Clank’s league? Short answer: no. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable game. Because, the truth is, Skylar & Plux is jam-packed full of potential, great ideas, and is rather beautiful, but it’s incredibly short playtime doesn’t do the ideas justice.
As for the story itself, you play as Skylar, a space-cat (it’s a thing) with a mechanical arm, who awakens with no memory after being experimented on by a talking screen known as CRT and his Minion-esque sidekick Bob. After escaping the clutches of CRT, Skylar arrives on Clover Island and befriends Plux, a destined-for-greater-things bird, and the two have to venture into three different zones to find fuses to power a siphon. It’s all pretty convoluted sci-fi staging, but at the heart of it is a funny, satirical story that’s more 90s cartoon than trying to be a triple-A tear-jerker.
The game does a great job at being incredibly self-aware, with Plux often poking fun at the cliches of the genre. Throw in some zany voice acting, pop-culture jokes, and a bumbling villain, and you’ve got the ingredients for a laugh-a-minute experience. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last too long. As I already highlighted, the game is over within about 3 hours, but on the plus side, it is less than R200.
Gameplay wise, you get an intriguing mix of familiar mechanics and new ideas. Snappy controls make handling Skylar great, and different power-ups you add to Skylar’s mechanical arm, including a time slow-down power and a magnetic hook, make combat, platforming and puzzle solving a lot of fun. There’s a great rhythm to the platforming and developer Right Nice Games have done a great job to capture the acrobatic and “springy” element of old-school platformers.
And all this does look great in action. Running on the Unreal 4 Engine brings some incredible lighting and colours to the world of Clover Island. There are some small visual polishes required, with some bland textures and awkward turning animations standing out, but it’s nothing to hamper the experience.
Sylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a fun, albeit short, 3D platforming adventure that won’t replace the triple-A counterparts on the market. However, there are some great gameplay ideas and features that aren’t maximised to their full potential, which makes us want to see more of these characters and what Right Nice could do with a possible sequel. If you’re a fan of the genre and looking for a short distraction, Skylar & Plux will give you a few laughs and scratch that itch without breaking the bank.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is available via digital download on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.