Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a 3D platformer in where we play as the feline, Skylar, who finds herself being experimented on by the evil villain known as CRT. Having lost her memory, she must find her way off the space vessel she finds herself in and is where we are taught the ropes to this game’s mechanics. If you’ve ever played this genre before, you’ll be right at home here as it shows you to double jump and use your spin attack which is very reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot. In some areas, you will find a yellow orb you can use to grapple and swing around, and with all these skills you must find your way out of space and onto Clover Island to truly begin your journey.
As you crash-land onto the island, you will immediately encounter your new owl partner Plux who will now accompany you throughout the rest of the game. Plux is a chatty character while Skylar herself is a mute whose robotic AI arm does all the talking. This island you now find yourself in is an incredibly beautiful place as is every other area you will explore. The title is powered by the Unreal 4 Engine, and they really nailed the whimsical look while still looking visually impressive. It is full of color, stylish and more importantly, the level design is great with it never being unclear where you should head to head to next.
Our common foes as we travel the lands will be CRT’s minions who will either try to jump at you, shoot homing missiles or fire good old fashioned lead when they catch a glimpse of you. All of them will die with a single hit though you have to get in close enough to punch them to do so. You have no ranged attack for most of the game, so the real challenge will be dodging their firepower and avoiding being overwhelmed by numbers to land a blow. Luckily for us, Skylar is very nimble allowing us to avoid and defeat whatever is thrown at us. There is a button dedicated to dodging, and her ground pound will come in handy a lot. It all flows smoothly, and the controls are tight & responsive.
The first task we are given is to go speak to the Elder of the natives known as L’oa. We find her in a less than an enviable state as she is locked in a cage that can only be opened by collecting a certain amount of shiny gems found throughout the island. These can be found in crates, inside of enemies and just out in the open for you to grab, assuming you can find some way to reach them first. After freeing the Elder, she will inform you that every other native has also been locked in a cage and hidden for not cooperating with CRT. They all require 100 gems to be able to set free which is well worth your time as the Elder will give you a permanent increase to the amount of health you have.
Freeing the natives is entirely optional. You will only be able to take three hits at any one time if you do not release them for the entirety of the game which does make it a bit more challenging. The only way to recover health is collecting gems, so those are a necessity. Your main goal is to collect three spheres that are in three different areas of the island with the starting area serving as a hub-world where all those that you have rescued will inhabit. These areas are a desert, snow filled mountains and a giant lava spewing factory. Each has their own gadget to make yours such as a jetpack or an orb that slows down time to crawl. It is also a semi-open world, allowing you to travel to any area you’ve unlocked at any time.
Found at certain locations are terminals that serve as fast travel points to make navigating the map or going back to the Elder for a health upgrade much easier. There are no instant death pits, falling in lava or any other hazard will only set you back a single heart and place you where you were before you fell. If you manage to lose all your hearts, you will be taken back to the nearest checkpoint. I wouldn’t call this title difficult, it sits right between the line of being engaged and being challenged. It is a game anyone can pick up and enjoy while the story itself is family friendly. To break up the platforming and the combat, there will be the occasional simple puzzle that are mostly found towards the end of the game.
The music is simply fantastic and is easily on par with the lovely graphics, making for a powerful combo to further amplify the fun gameplay. Most of the main characters like Plux, CRT, and the Elder are voice acted and will chatter a ton throughout your travels. Both the characters and their acting are unfortunately sub-par, except for the villain CRT that single handily steals the show. The guy is hilarious and constantly berating you from the transmitter found in Skylar’s arm. He is the only character that injects energy and personality into the game with all the others sounding bored and possessing unmemorable dialogue.
Unlike most games featuring dual protagonists, Plux will never help in any way, being mostly there just for moral support really. Skylar is a mute, blank slate character while the interactions between Plux and her glove’s AI being few and far between. Most of the time it will just be Plux talking to himself or playing the good guy during CRT’s rants. I couldn’t help but feel like his inclusion felt kind of tacked on just to have more dialogue and to fill a quota for the genre. At the very least they could have had him flip an unreachable switch or do something during a cut-scene to justify his presence. It is a 3D platformer, no one is likely expecting a gripping narrative, but with every other aspect of the game having so much charm it is a shame they dropped the ball there.
Speaking of cutscenes and to return to something more positive, occasionally they are presented in a slick 2D art style that look great and fit right in with the goofy humor. Every gadget you’ll get your hands on will be useful in some way with none being just a gimmick. Your first one will be the jetpack that alongside its primary function to lift you into the air can be used while running to propel yourself right toward your enemies. Next will be the time slowing orb that will make traps easier to avoid as well as allowing you to jump on things that were moving far too fast previously. And finally, you have the Magnetic Glove, that lets you pull together shattered platforms, hang from moving objects and gives you the ability to catch a missile mid-air and back to your target.
None of them have limits to the amount you can use them; they recharge near immediately after use. They add depth to the game, making it more than just a jump here, punch that kind of title. In total, it lasted me near four hours from start to finish with a bit over half of the natives found which would add more playtime if you search for them all. It is worth mentioning that this is a 15-dollar game and while short, is content rich with no sections that feel like filler. Everything is placed with purpose and does not have any arbitrary blockades like being forced to collect a certain amount of things. You very well could play this as a regular platformer if you choose. Other than the characters and some dialogue, Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island does everything exceedingly well and is a game I’d wholeheartedly recommend if you so much as have an ounce of love for 3D Platformers.
[Review copy was provided]