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Skul Review – “Playing the other side of the hero’s journey”

  • Be a young skeleton soldier in a rogue-lite adventure
  • Change skulls to gain new stats and abilities
  • Upgrades, equipment, spells, and skulls make endless combinations

A classic fantasy story revolves around a young and unknown hero who goes on a long and dangerous journey to defeat the forces of evil. We see them grow, make friends, and survive some pretty difficult encounters, but there’s more to see. Southpaw Games wants to show what the forces of supposed evil are going through with a game like Skul: The Hero Slayer. This is a mobile 2D hack-and-slash rogue-lite with some platforming elements that have you playing for the other team in a fantasy conflict. With a whole new perspective, you may get to experience a new kind of game with new mechanics to master.

What is Skul: The Hero Slayer?

Dark shadow looming over a boy

Going back to the classic fantasy story, the title tends to provide a large clue as to what kind of story you’re about to experience. Skul: The Hero Slayer is blatant in that regard. You are a young undead skeleton warrior named Skul who has managed to survive an attack from human armies led by powerful heroes. However, many of your comrades in the Demon King’s army and the Demon King himself have fallen or become captured in the assault. After rescuing a witch and setting up base in a ruined castle, you are tasked with fighting your way through the human forces to rescue the Demon King. You’d better hope your nerve is as hard as your skull.


Strong like Skul: The Hero Slayer

Talking to a witch in a dark 2D environment

No matter what side you’re fighting for, you’ll be hoping that you’re placed into the role of a strong and capable warrior. This is what Skul: The Hero Slayer is both in game and in character. Despite his small size, Skul has some moves which make him an interesting hero to take into battle. His skull-throwing mechanic is an unusual but enjoyable and strategic take on the projectile. Throwing your skull when you lack ranged options and using it as a teleportation point for mobility opens up a lot of mobility options in a game where you’ll be frequently swarmed by enemies.

Then there’s the variety of skulls themselves. In what could be seen as a combination of the Job System and Kirby’s abilities, Skul can find skulls to swap onto his body. Each skull transforms his body into a different form that has different stats, attacks, movements, and special abilities. This can be improved or destroyed for bones which can traded in for upgrades down the line. There’s also a risk aspect since skulls can be rare and you need to decide whether mastering an unknown skull is better than converting it and betting on Skul’s base power.

The thing is that you can do a lot to improve Skul’s base power. You have the roguelite hub area where you can improve starting stats and unlock NPCs for extra starting bonuses. While in runs, you have numerous opportunities to gain hefty sums of gold, bones, and magic power. Shops are reliable enough that you can be guaranteed improved equipment and more skill. Even the chambers will do a lot to give you bountiful chests with a nice selection of prizes. 

Skul: The Hero Slayer still must learn

Mage casting three balls of fire while standing on a mushroom

The hero’s journey is fraught with peril and the reality that they will need to learn skills, sometimes in the heat of battle. Skul: The Hero Slayer has his skills to learn and is pushing them onto you. The biggest is the touchscreen translation. Skul works perfectly fine and efficiently with a controller, but the touchscreen can have trouble picking up short and precise movements. Since this is a game where being able to react fast and quickly attack or retreat is important, the touchscreen controls become a whole other kind of enemy.

Then, some balancing issues need to be addressed. It’s quite obvious that some skulls, equipment, and skills are so much better than others. You can go through a run only to find a power that completely devastates everything in your path with little cost or risk. The love you develop for such a power becomes so strong and pure that you end up a little bit more bitter every time you don’t find it in a run.

Join Skul: The Hero Slayer

Boss fight against a live tree in Skul: The Hero Slayer

Skul: The Hero Slayer is a 2D roguelite platforming game for mobile about a skeleton soldier going on a quest to save his leader. It’s a quick and exciting game with an amusing mechanic involving skulls and skills with plenty of options to discover new and effective synergies. The touchscreen controls take some practice and sheer dip in quality between certain items and powers. But these are the things you have to put with if you want to be a hero, or in this case, a slayer of heroes.


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