At a glance, 7 Raven Studios/Ezekiel Rage’s The Skylia Prophecy’s 16-bit visuals might look like a new Castlevania Symphony of the Night but it actually feels like it took more inspiration from the original NES TMNT game. The side-scrolling 2D sprite-based visuals, disjointed combat, and steep difficulty often takes a one step forward, two steps back approach.
Playing as a lass (even though the sprite looks more like a dude with long hair) trying to stop evil creatures, the player has access to a world that is mostly linear even though official text describe this game as a Metroidvania. Sure, you can backtrack but the player often advances further in the quest by collecting items, such as keys, as opposed to gaining a new ability to help with traversal and combat, just like the original TMNT title on NES.
Combat, although functionally serviceable, leaves much to be desired as glaring omissions make fighting a head scratcher. The very first enemy you encourage is a short creature scuttling along the floor. In any normal game, the player would press down and the attack button to perform a low attack. Instead, the player has to figure out how to use the shield ability, realizing it is used for offense in conjunction with defense. There is no down attack and the player cannot drop through ledges by pressing down and jump, which causes tedious backtracking in dungeons and overall confusion.
The Skylia Prophecy is also a difficult game even on the easiest setting. If not careful, the most basic enemy can cause an annoying game over, resulting in restarting at a checkpoint several minutes back. Checkpoints are spaced much too far apart and the item system is also limited. The player can stock one health potion but the cost to purchase one of these lifesaving items is high. Finding currency is rare too. So much so that I never wanted to use my items through fear of not being able to afford another one, which of course ends in death and a restart.
Composed of pixel-based sprites, everything is going for that abstract cartoony visual appeal – sort of a mix between Shovel Knight and Out Of This World. It looks fine but there is no detail in anything and found the blur to be a little distracting. The shop screen also looks like a low-res jpg file that was stretched to 3x the size that it should be. The main character carries this arm sword blade thing. Due to the art style, it isn’t clear what exactly this weapon is. Further, the Naruto run animation, arms wide to the side, is also a little ridiculous and makes the most basic movement distracting. The initial loading screen is also very long, especially since this is a 2D game that looks like it could run on a GBA.
Players who grow accustomed to the awkward fighting mechanics and spend time with the level structure can probably finish the game in a couple hours. New comers, like me, will need significantly longer due to the high difficulty and constant need to retrace steps when game overed. If you enjoy these types of brutal action games and still play the original NES TMNT game to this day, there is a lot here to enjoy. Fans that like a more modern approach to their Metroidvanias might want to consider other games in the genre over this.
Also available on Switch and PC.
Not As Good As: Gato Roboto
Enjoy A Challenge: play The Messenger
Don’t Forget About: the Alwa games