Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island

Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a prime example of a game getting lost among the sheer number of releases on PC, at least for me. I try and keep an eye on new releases especially 3D mascot platformers. This happens to be one of my favourite genres but it took me until three years after release to find this game. It was only coincidence that I saw it as part of Humble's current Spring Sale where it is £2.99 at the time of writing.

It may seem odd that I'm writing a review for a game that is three years old but I think it's worth recommending, especially to those with a fondness for this genre. It's reminiscent of Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank, though without anywhere near the levels of polish.

Skylar and Plux

Skylar is an anthropomorphic cat that has had her memory wiped by the enemy CRT while orbiting a planet in his space station. She has a weapon instead of one of her arms which can talk while she suffers from the silent protagonist trope. After escaping and crashing to the planet below she encounters Plux, a 'wise-cracking' bird who hopes his father will return. Together, they vow to save the planet from CRT and free the local race, the Lo'a who have been imprisoned for some reason.

Honestly, the story isn't really important here. I don't particularly like the design of any of the characters or much of the dialogue at all. The game is janky in places and for the first fifteen or so minutes I thought I had made a mistake in purchasing the game. However, the real stars here are the world, level design and gameplay.

The first time the game really clicked for me was in the first of three main levels. You start with a grappling hook that can be used in limited circumstances but you soon get a jet-pack. Traversing the world instantly becomes smoother and more enjoyable and the level design reflects this. An open area along the coast with several enormous waterfalls falling over towering cliffs feels like the first time the game wanted to show you what its got to offer. All you have to do is hit three switches to open the door to the next area but the routes you take and the numerous secrets were so much fun to explore. It reminded me of the sentinel beach in Jak and Daxter, one of my favourite areas in video games.

Skylar and Plux

The game only gets stronger from here. There are clear visual signifiers for important areas for you to explore and there are more gadgets to collect each of which add new aspects to the gameplay. The use of colour makes every area distinct. There were times where I was really impressed with how the game looked, from the snowy mountain peaks to the lava caves far below the island.

There are enemies scattered across the levels but thankfully they don't pose too much threat. You have a punch and a spin attack plus an ability you gain late in the game helps you dispatch them in a pretty fun manner. CRT occasionally interrupts your adventure with Handsome Jack type quips (but much tamer) and Plux always has just the worst and most cringe inducing responses at the ready.

Skylar and Plux

There is one big elephant in the room that I've not really got into yet. There is jank but this isn't too much of a problem. At one point I had to Skyrim my way over a cliff top to reach one of the caged Lo'a only to then backwards engineer the actual intended route (it was behind a waterfall!). This kind of thing is absolutely fine. What isn't fine are the performance issues and various bugs. In the second and third worlds I had numerous slowdowns at critical moments. The framerate would tank at seemingly random times as well. The game audio became unsynchronised with my actions numerous times from the desert area onwards. At one point before the conclusion I was instructed to do something which I then did, only the game didn't realise and wasn't able to progress. Fortunately, I was able to reload my save and repeat a small portion but it would have been a game ruining bug had that not solved it.

For all my criticism of the game, I really enjoyed it and would heartily recommend it to any fan of the genre. I loved the level design, the bright colours and the music was fantastic throughout. I played through this in two main sittings and rescued most of the Lo'a in five hours. If it wasn't for the performance issues I would have given it a higher rating.

3

In Short

  • + Fun platforming and great level design.
    + Gadgets are a great addition to the core gameplay.
    + Visuals and music are both fantastic.

  • - Numerous persistent bugs.
    - Performance issues are a problem.
    - I don't care for any of the characters.

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