Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
So you know how it goes. Someone takes you out, you don’t notice who did it, and you die. Then one day you wake up in your coffin, you get your bearings, put your head on your shoulders and run through the tutorial. Telling this to the nice necromancer who’s offered to help you avenge yourself if you get them what they need, you agree and then head out for untold amounts of roguelike dungeon crawling mayhem.
Skeletal Avenger by 10tons is a dungeon crawling hack & slash roguelike currently in early access. Raised from the dead, you’ll be running around as a skeleton who while reclaiming some of their old gear as they fight hordes of enemies, they’ll also be learning new tricks as there are definitely some bonuses to being dead in this adventure. Swords, hammers, helmets, armor and your own head will be at your disposal and I never thought I would say this as much as I did here, but using your head is often the best course of action.
Seriously, you can throw your head around and depending on which helmet is equipped, your head will do different things while it’s detached from your shoulders. More precision in your aim, more damage the further your head flies, or it rolling right through with a bladed helmet. It’s dealer’s choice. Probably the best part about throwing your head around is that it doesn’t contain your life essence so there’s no worry about picking it back up right away. And if it so happens that your head went flying in a direction that you don’t need to go in? You can just summon it right back onto your shoulders to continue the mayhem.
In regards to your mayhem, it’ll all be starting from your central hub which allows you to pick which trinket you wish to have equipped, buy another piece of gear to replace the one(s) that you currently have on and then select which dungeon you wish to tackle next. Of these dungeons, and the point of crawling through them, is that there’s a revenge target and once you take them out, you’ll receive blood crystals that you’ll need to unlock a big boss target to bring you that much closer to your actual revenge. In regards to these blood crystals though, you’ll need a lot of them AND you can both be stuck using them in order to heal or lose them if you did poorly on a run and died. Again…
This brings me to potentially my only issue with Skeletal Avenger. You don’t actually heal after the successful completion of a dungeon. Instead, you either have to get gear that will allow some healing or have gear that will let you receive more healing from the items in the dungeon that hopefully don’t cost blood crystals such as potions and healing fountains. This wouldn’t be so bad if you were allowed to keep your perks such as poisoning enemies, having flaming weapons or ice bursts when you are hit to give you two seconds to reformulate, but this perhaps also leads me into one of my favorite features. Actually selecting which dungeon to tackle.
Dungeon selection is upfront with you in regards to how many blood crystals you’ll receive, how tough the standard enemy will be, and how many paths lead through it and what can be found down each path. Weapon racks, healing fonts, and perks to do things such as move faster after putting your head back onto your shoulders, poison weapons, putrid puddles under your feet that will kill the living if they step into it as you dash by. There’s some variety and plenty of different perks that you can experiment with. Like any good roguelike though, it’s all in the roll of the dice of which perks will show up and which ones you’ll choose in consideration to what lies ahead.
The best part of all of this is that this is just the beginning. Skeletal Avenger is releasing to the public for Early Access at the end of the month and from there it’s certain that there’ll be plenty of changes and balancing to come not unlike other Early Access titles and their own other Early Access title Dysmantle which we took a look at earlier this week that’s been in Early Access since last year. If I have perhaps one thing that I would like to see more of? It would be dialog and banter like that from the very beginning when our protagonist makes the deal with the resident necromancer but again, the adventure has just begun!