An old prophecy says that one day, hellish fiends and undead will take over the Earth. Well, only if you let them succeed because in Skelly Selest, the new action game from Caiysware and Digerati, you play as a Heavenly Keeper sent straight to the depths of hell to stop this prophecy to become true.
Arm yourself with your Seraphic ax and your bone blaster to destroy the ones causing this outburst in this mix of slash and dash, run’n’gun and twin stick shooter. Prepare to venture in dark dungeons, endless arenas and even card tables to uncover (and eliminate) the ones responsible for it and save heaven and hell in this pixel-art retro style adventure!
- Enemies: At first sight, you may think they are nothing special at all. Maybe because of the visual of the game (we will talk about it later). But I must give the developers credit for the originality and design of the enemies. There’s a good variety of hellspawn creatures that you will face, all of them with nice visuals and fluid animations. Some will rush straight to you while others will fire at you from afar. Some will behave as tanks while others will teleport to try to get your guard down. I don’t care if they come inviting you for a tea party: you shall thank them with bullets and the edge of your ax! Period! I give kudos for the developers for their creativity!
- Game modes: After starting the game through the tutorial, you will have access to some of the different modes (while others are unlocked as you progress) the game presents: the two Hunt modes (where you will face waves of enemies in randomly generated levels with a huge boss at the end), the Necrotic Colosseum (where you will fight waves of enemies of increasing difficulty in a single level – I never went too far in this one), the Dungeon Pilgrimage mode (roguelike as we love and my favorite mode, in which you will need to explore procedurally-generated dungeons and find the items that open the door that leads to the boss. In this mode you can buy upgrades, making your adventure a little less complicated), the Clashful Cards mode (a card battle game that resembles the card game from Final Fantasy VIII, Triple Triad®… Very addictive!), the Penitence Trials mode (with consists in a series of challenges in the other game modes like eliminating a certain amount of enemies or surviving for 60 seconds in the colosseum) and more. Aside from these many modes, there’s also a monster compendium, a card grimoire and the vessel screen, where you can select one of the different heads and bodies for your character (unlocked playing the many game modes). Is that enough for you?
- Gameplay: This is where the game shines! With your ax and gun, you will have to defeat waves of enemies level after level (or room after room, depending on what game mode you are playing) until you reach the final boss and eliminate it. To help you in the quest, you will find dozens of different powerups along the way they can be equipped by your character (we will discuss them further), granting him better chances to survive and accomplish this mission. Just remember to always pay attention to your surroundings and watch out for enemies because if you fall, you go back to square one.
- Lock and unloaded? I liked the main game mechanic a lot! I like it, but I hate it. And I hate to like it. All enemies are susceptible to damage from both your weapons, so you may think it’s safer to always fight them from distance with your gun. And that’s true, my dear friend. The only let down is that your ammo is limited and to replenish it, you must eliminate enemies in melee, making you dependable on both your guns. That’s really clever to keep you always uncomfortable and in danger. Well done, guys!
- Items and upgrades: Caiysware developers – or better saying, THE developer, since this a single mand project… really amazing – were really inspired when developing this game because you’ve got nothing less than 40 DIFFERENT UPGRADES to help you in your adventure. These upgrades vary between health and ammo replenishers to sidekicks, teleportation, homing shots and much more! You can find these upgrades between levels or in chests in stages and special rooms. Just remember you will need to count with Lady’s Lucky help to find that one item you are most in need.
- Sound: The sound department is… well… ok. Its chiptune songs aim to emulate the 8-bit era from where it clearly takes inspiration. The problem here is that you know the music is there, but you almost don’t hear or pay attention to it. I’m not the most exigent reviewer from Life is Xbox team when the subject is audio, but the music here doesn’t impress at all. And since the sound effects don’t add much, let’s keep the sound of the game here in the mixed section…
- Visuals: With gloomy (what’s ok, since you are in hell) and very polluted scenarios, the visuals aren’t something I will remember of Skelly Selest… at least, not in the best way. To help relieve this dim atmosphere, the developer added options to use cleaner textures on the floor (what really helps a lot!) or to make it worse adding scanlines and old CTR visuals. It makes sense while trying to emulate the retro visuals of the 8-bit era, but the over-saturated pallet of colors (that varies between red, green, blue and white, with some minor variations) used over a pitch-black background took me some time to get used to.
Tricky and unforgiving, Skelly Selest is a game that exhales nostalgia! It brings to Xbox One players the opportunity to relieve that ‘playing for the higher score’ feeling of old. With a lot of content to unlock and many game modes to master, it will keep you entertained for hours (or until you throw your controller at the window, like I almost did to mine… a couple of times), with that feeling of ‘just one more try’ we all love. Although the sounds and visuals of the title aren’t the most attractive, it’s challenging gameplay is reason enough for you to give it a try!
Developer: Anthony Case / Stage Clear Studios Publisher: Digerati
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PC, PS4 and Switch
Time to beat: Between 10 and 12 hours
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: The trials are very challenging and will take some time to be beaten
Perfect for: Those who love twin stick shooters, or simply enjoy a challenging game with old school visuals
Xbox Game Store link: Click here
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.