This title was reviewed on Nintendo Switch, but is also available on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
At this point I’ve probably played more Rogue-likes than Exe-Create RPGs, which is saying something. Alongside Battle Royales, Rogue-likes seem to be a massive trend at the moment, and Skelly Selest is no exception. Despite the over-saturation of the genre, will Skelly Selest stand out? Let’s find out.
Skelly Selest‘s visuals are quite well done. I’m a sucker for retro-style graphics and this game nails it, with very nice looking 16-Bit visuals. There’s also some decent variation in regards to the visuals, as environments and the enemies within them all look unique and stand out. This also helps from a gameplay standpoint too, as the unique appearances of each of the game’s enemies lets the player instantly know the threat they pose and deal with them accordingly.
The story in Skelly Selest is very simple. You play as a Heavenly Keeper, whose goal it is to kill Hell’s inhabitants as a form of population control. Because if Hell gets too full, its denizens will spill onto Earth. It’s a simple story, but it does at least explain why you’re slaughtering a ton of demons.
Skelly Selest is a hack-and-slash, run-and-gun, rogue-like, score attack hybrid. The basic gist is that you get put into small arenas filled with enemies, and you have to kill them all until you can proceed to the next level. Throughout each level, as well as in-between them, you can acquire new weapons and power-ups to help even the odds. No matter what though, you always have a melee weapon and a firearm at your disposal. Ammo is regained by melee-killing an enemy, so there’s a nice balancing act between the two modes of attack. The problem is that the game isn’t a twin stick shooter, as much as the gameplay and perspective would have you think otherwise. This means that aiming your firearm is quite clunky, and I died plenty of times thanks to a missed shot that I would have easily hit had the controls worked with me.
Speaking of death, this game is a rogue-like, because it’s 2019 and every game has to be a rogue-like. If you die, you go right back to the start. While rogue-likes have been done to death lately, there’s one positive that comes from this: variety. Because you die a lot, it would be frustrating and downright boring to keep playing the same levels over and over, and clearly the devs thought of this. Each level is randomly generated, so upon death you may be playing through the same theme of level again, but the level itself is completely different, to the point where I once got unlucky and ended up with a first-level boss fight during one attempt. (It didn’t last long)
Alongside this variety, there’s also a decent amount of content throughout. There are numerous different levels which culminate in a battle with a big boss, such as the Arch Lichemancer. There are also alternate gamemodes, such as an arena survival, a boss rush mode, Penitence Trials which are like your average challenge mode, and even a Triple Triad-esque card game, which uses cards you collect from random drops in combat.
Skelly Selest‘s audio is nothing too special, but its crunchy sound effects and old-school music work well with the visuals in providing a retro aesthetic, so I do like it.
Skelly Selest is great at what it does. It looks and sounds old-school, and its arena-based gameplay is fast and fun. The procedurally generated levels add some variety, and the ton of gamemodes included give it some serious longevity. It isn’t perfect though. The story is very thin, the aiming of firearms is very clunky and begs for the use of the right analogue stick, and there’s the simple fact that it is just another rogue-like. If you’re somehow not sick of rogue-likes by now, then there’s a lot to like here, and even if you are sick of rogue-likes, there’s still some fun to be had.