Considering its low cost, Skelly Selest is quite a bulky serving that will no doubt please fans of slash and dash score attacks, and whilst far from deep, it’s certainly somewhat entertaining. There’s not much of a story to lean on, but that’s okay because it works. Skelly Selest tells of an ancient prophecy that depicts Hell on Earth should the former become max populated. To counter this, the titular Selestial Order sent forth divine skeletal vessels to keep hell’s population down in an attempt to protect it against the aforementioned spill.
That backdrop allows for the relevancy of each mode included in the game; all of which offer up short bouts of fun that rely on varying frameworks. The game does a good job at feeding you into the basics of play via a short yet informative tutorial. Here, you’ll learn how to move, how to attack, and how the structure of the game plays out. Starting out, you’re presented with a slightly convoluted menu with many of the present options locked until some playtime has been put in. There’s a range of settings that you can adjust throughout.
Though, the majority of these tend to consist of audio and visual changes, with a few added extras thrown in for good measure, such as toggling CRT variants, switching on/off the mini-map, turning on/off tips, and so on. Once you’re done there, there’s a few added tidbits to check out before diving in. The Grimoire Compendium is where you’ll want to be if you’re keen to browse your accolades and stats; what beasts you’ve encountered, which items you’ve found, unlocked cards (more on that soon), high-scores, and overall play stats.
When all is said and done, there’s not a massive amount of depth on show here. Sure, there’s a decent amount of variation within, but you’re likely going to max out most of these grimoires within the space of an hour or two. Still, for its price, you cant go wrong. Further, if you’re a score buff, you’ll enjoy the fact that Skelly Selest tracks pretty much everything that you do. When you’ve finished checking out your bragging rights, you’ll want to head on over to the Character Vessels; compiling both vessels and ornaments under one heading.
Think of this as a character selection screen, with each new vessel unlocked bringing something distinct to the fields of play, complete with the ability to wear hats that you’ll earn through play. Once again, there’s not much depth on show. The characters included all play in about the same way, with a few notable differences throughout. Now, when you’ve finished tweaking the options and selecting a character, it’s time to get your hands dirty. There’s several modes to work through here, none of which are all that original to be fair.
In fact, chances are, you’ll have played something similar to each mode included elsewhere, likely through a side mode unlocked in a grander title. Though I must admit, it is nice to have a game that puts these modes under one umbrella and doesn’t try to be anything else. Now, as alluded to above, the majority of the modes included will be locked until you’ve played what precedes them and beat a pre-set score or fulfilled a pre-set task. That being said, it’s all relatively simple stuff and there’s not much of a difference in how you play each bout.
The modes typically have you clearing out dungeons, taking on hordes of wave-based enemies, participating in trials, diving into some endless carnage, playing cards, and so forth. The only mode that stands out as truly unique against the rest is the previously alluded to Clashful Cards. In this mode, you and your opponent will sit on opposite sides of a table grid, with each of you owning five randomly selected cards a piece. Each card has a number on the edge, ranging one through to nine. The objective to dominate the table grid.
To do this, you’ll take turns placing a card down of your choosing. If you place a card down, you’ll earn a point, with victory going to the player that has the most cards on the table come the end of the game. The idea here is to try and overturn your opposition’s cards through the use of the number system. For instance, should my opponent put a card down that’s got a value of four on one edge, I would select and put down a card right next to theirs that has a higher number value, subsequently converting their card to my card.
The problem here, however, is that the CPU almost always has the better hand. Several times I would look to their deck and see that most of their cards trump mine by default, giving me no choice but to constantly restart until decks were more fair. You’ll unlock more cards as you win and add them to your collection, but for the most part, it feels very one sided starting out. The rest of the modes on show, as promised, lean on that slash and dash score-attack concept, and despite how repetitive things can get, it’s surprisingly fun.
Dungeon Pilgrimage is my personal favorite, and resembles something akin to The Binding of Isaac. Here, you’ll be thrown into a randomly generated dungeon and must work through its rooms as you clear out enemies and work towards locating the dungeon’s bosses. The crux of play is similar to just about anything else of equal structure; kill enemies, pick up useful items, find keys, unlock doors, rinse and repeat. The majority of the other modes that you’ll unlock tend to present wave-based affairs, or, something combat-specific.
Though, it doesn’t really matter what you dive into, because they all play the same at the bottom of the line; kill as much as you can in rapid succession to gain a high-score. This is relatively easy to achieve in all modes except Dungeon Pilgrimage. The reason for that is that due to its dungeon-crawling concept, it’s hard to maintain a chain of kills. Not a deal breaker by any means, but something that did strike me as a peculiar design choice. Mercifully, Skelly Selest is a very easy game to pick up and play as far as its handling goes.
You’ll control your vessel’s movement with the left-stick, and will melee attack through tapping the A button, fire projectile attacks via the B button, and dash with the Y button. Outside of that, there’s little else to concern yourselves with. The kicker, however, is that whilst you have unlimited dash, you don’t have unlimited projectile attacks. You’ll expend your projectiles for each shot made, and the only way to replenish them is to kill an enemy through the means of melee. Of course, there’s items you can rely on to bolster all of this.
The game is chock-full of randomly generated items. You’ll find these items scattered all over the place in one way or another, regardless as to what mode you take to. There’s items that will improve your health, items that will trade your base weapon for a more powerful one, items that afford you a respawn, and much more besides. The balance is really well struck across the entirety of play, ensuring that you’re always powerful enough to stand a chance, but not so powerful that you can absolutely hammer your way through the game.
It’s good then, because death in Skelly Selest is permanent. Irrespective as to what mode you’re playing, if you die, it’s a complete wipe. Whilst the gameplay itself remains largely unchanged across the game’s modes, I did enjoy the varying frameworks of each mode included, not to mention the randomness of it all. The dungeons are fun on their own, but even more so thanks to the fact that you’ll see different aspects of the game through each run through; varying items, the chance to unlock new vessels and hats, and more besides.
There’s even a store you can locate that sees you playing a quick game of card chance, being that you’ll be presented with face down cards, with some cards offering items, and others, well, something more devious. The same level of uncertainty can be found over in the wave-based modes. Here, you’ll be spawned into a tight and confined location and must battle hordes of enemies until the wave is over. Once it’s over, you’ll enter a portal and be taken to a screen that allows you to select an item of some sort to carry over to the next wave.
Not all of these items are useful, mind, but you’re only allowed one choice and must choose carefully. Then, on occasion, you may be taken to a special location to either defeat a mini-boss, or make your way through a small dungeon that’s filled with useful loot; the trade-off being that each room is usually more deadly than the next, making it very risk vs. reward. I quite enjoyed the trials mode too. Here, you’ll be tasked with a range of varying trials that impede you in one form or another; one-hit death, one-bit visuals, and more. It’s good fun.
When all is said and done, Skelly Selest is a decent survive-athon, and although not a single mode is particularly in-depth, nor do the have any real lasting value, as a collective, the game is worth its cost. The combat can be a bit hit and miss due to being confined to eight directions, but this is relatively easy to overlook. I’ll commend the game for its enemy variation. There’s a decent amount of foes to tackle, all of which sport their own movement and attack patterns; both are usually a nightmare to avoid when the crowds soon pick up.
In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, Skelly Selest just about gets a safe pass from me. There’s not a great deal of variation across both of these fronts, and although there’s enough detail present throughout, it can get quite jarring and visually repetitive before long. Some more depth here would not have gone amiss, because as it stands, the game doesn’t quite stand as tall as it could have. The bottom line here is that if you’re a score killer, and you enjoy a good challenge and some uncertainty, this will be for you.
Despite its issues and its drawbacks, there’s something for just about everyone that likes a good score attack, and pointing to its cheap cost again, you could go much worse. Whilst Skelly Selest wont have you playing for hours on end, it is one of those games that you’ll come back to time and time again when you’ve a spare hour, just to see how far you can get, what new items and unlocks you can acquire, and how many points you can rack up. This, ladies and gents, is most likely the best way to enjoy what’s in the proverbial box.
Considering its low cost, Skelly Selest offers quite a bulky serving that will no doubt entice fans of slash and dash score attacks, and whilst far from deep, and despite some glaring issues, it’s certainly somewhat entertaining across most aspects of play. That being said, it doesn’t take too long before repetition sinks in, making this more ideal to play when you’ve an hour to spare, or, when you’re waiting for something better to install.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.