Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The Skylia Prophecy probably has to be one of the most deceptive games I’ve played in a long, long time. Set at the end of a long war invoking the forces of evil and a dark lord, the forces of evil have been confined to a specific space after everything went sideways once the dark lord was slain instead of imprisoned. Taking your “sword”, magic, and ignoring the one that followed you here, you once again set out without looking back.
The Skylia Prophecy while looking and feeling like a Metroidvania and an old school Castlevania tribute, is more of a 2D hardcore platformer. Designed to kill you from the tutorial, it’s hard, it’s unforgiving, and finally? I’m still unsure of where I sit with it more than a week from having put my controller down after finishing.
Being hard for the sake of being hard is nothing new nor is there anything wrong with it as long as you’re being upfront about it. See the Souls series and prepare to cry a bit. Where I’m unsure about The Skylia Prophecy is that while designed to be as brutal as it was, were some of these elements on purpose? Or not? The overall experience falls into one that I enjoyed for the most part as a challenge but as an experience it has a long way to go.
Possibly the best example of this is that without buying even the most standard of keys you can’t move forward. To counter this, there is a demon who is willing to give you one as long as you return the favor at some unknown time later. While this gives an air of mystery it also teaches you to properly manage your finances and to actually slightly go out of your way in order to complete side quests for a bit of cash.
That part, is fine. The part that can very easily cause you headaches is once you’ve moved out of a location you cannot come back. This means if you did not complete your side quest you don’t get the money. If you spent too much money you are now broke and can’t afford anything, like keys, health potions or even proper healing. Where things completely break down though is that at a certain point you are required to double jump and double jumping? Cost Mana.
While this might not sound like a bad thing as it quickly becomes a lesson in resource management, if you have no Mana Potion and can’t get back to town, or, you can get back to town and can’t afford a Mana Potion, what do you do? You’re quite literally stuck and oftentimes there is literally no way to move forward. This is where the mechanics are broken and it’s not something that is immediately noticeable as you only start with one Mana bar and more or less have to figure out how to use it to shoot through a wall to destroy your first barricade.
Even then, at that point I thought something was up as that didn’t feel right and it only gets worse as time moves forward. As there are next to zero instructions, seriously, next to none, you really need to figure everything out for yourself and some features could have used a line or two upfront. From only being able to swing your weapon at shoulder level to having to use your barrier to take out knee high enemies, you’ll find that even your mana can drop or raise depending on certain enemies. But! Take them all out and you’re just as screwed as they don’t respawn.
Like I’ve said, I enjoyed the challenge that was provided by The Skylier Prophecy however that design leaves much to be desired. On that note, one improvement that I would say needs to be done and for accessible purposes is the font and the weight of the text. From the opening backstory, to the dialogue with various townspeople who might give you a hint as to where to go, to the quest givers, it’s hard to read regardless of the screen size as I think how it would look on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.
So overall, I would have a hard time recommending The Skylia Prophecy to anyone who’s not seriously up for a major and almost hardcore challenge. The core mechanics are stiff, certain ways forward can take you to your grave in literally one shot if you’re not lucky when doing what you need to, and the ways forward are often blocked off due to a lack of mana giving you no other option than reloading and doing it over again as there’s no way back. It’s really unfortunate because I had high hopes for this retro Castlevania inspired title.Score: 5 / 10