Skaramazuzu Review: Beware Of The Trolls And Seek The Light

Arriving between life and death, Skaramazuzu seeks the four orbs that may just help them remember who they are.

What’s in a name? Ask those who christened Skaramazuzu—what the heck does that mean? Is it even a name? Does it have any meaning? Stick with this narrative-driven puzzle game, and you may receive the answers you seek. There are a few hurdles first.

Read the Steam store page from Bleeding Moon Studio and Iphigames or even the post I made earlier on the game, and you might already be wondering what it’s about. In short, it’s a mysterious tale between life and death, and you play the titular character, or Zuzu, as they try to make heads and tails of who/what they are.

Understandably, any exposé on a game built around mystery would undoubtedly spoil it, so stop sniffing for hints. I grimaced through the first hour or so of Skaramazuzu without any help; you can do the same (should this type of thing appeal to you).

Skaramazuzu Review (PC) – A Life And Death Situation

Skaramazuzu Review - Talk about it
Talk about it. Source: Steam

Those hurdles highlighted refer to Skaramazuzu’s early gameplay. Anyone who’s played at least a handful of point and click adventures or open world RPGs will be familiar with fetch quests and that whole debacle of, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. This is fine, but it’s like pulling teeth early in the game.

I was already in love with the visuals and the ambiguous narrative

Zuzu arrives in this ominous world of darkness and is greeted by Master. They’ve tasked them with finding four orbs, and in turn, this will give Zuzu the answers they seek. To obtain these orbs, you’ll have to run tasks for fiendish NPCs who’ll ensure you get to see every single corner of the hand-drawn art. It is beautiful; it really is.

In early Skaramazuzu gameplay, the fetch quests felt like trolling. The dialogue is witty and well-written, but conversations can feel verbose when you’re keen to move to the next area. Coupled with the wandering back and forth, it wasn’t as enjoyable as hoped, yet that narrative thread needed a tug, so perseverance was vital.

Hear Me Out

Dialogue is in subtitle form, accompanied by ‘a peculiar sound system of voice emotes and expressions’, which is an acquired taste. These sounds are definitely unique, with some sounding better than others. Unfortunately, Zuzu’s is the most annoying. Again, it’s an acquired taste—you might like it.

Source: Steam

Playing Skaramazuzu on the Steam Deck was perfect in terms of controls. It’s intuitive, and there are no complicated controls, slightly resembling a point and click game without a cursor. On that note, the inventory system is very basic in that you carry about two items at a time, and that’s what created the initial frustration as the game felt very linear at the start and restrictive.

…the story becomes immersive with questions arising both during and after completion

Repeating dialogue, as well-written as it was, was exhausting with no signs of progression. Then Zuzu located the first key to an orb, and something started to click into place. I was already in love with the visuals and the ambiguous narrative, yet the introduction was a mild deterrent. Get past that first bit, and then life (or death) is peachy.

Shadow Skills

Again, it’s tricky to go into depth without revealing something that could potentially spoil Skaramazuzu’s plot. Still, the puzzles are much more rewarding and intuitive (unlike the cog puzzles at the start – I have no idea how I solved those!). The storytelling element is excellent, as are the additional characters you meet when retrieving the orbs.

Skaramazuzu Review - Keepsake
Keepsake. Source: Steam

According to the press material, the game has about 20 scenes. This sounds restrictive, and while that is the case at the beginning, new opportunities arise, and the story becomes more immersive with new questions arising both during and after completion—and for me, that’s a winner when a game captures your imagination well after finishing it.

On that note, 100% completion is achievable on the first playthrough, and I don’t see any reason you could miss anything, so if that’s a motivation, go for it. Also, it took me about four hours to finish Skaramazuzu. That’s not a benchmark, but food for thought on how long it’ll likely take, depending on skill level, of course. Still, who the devil steams through a narrative-driven title?!

Skaramazuzu Review Summary

Conceptually, Skaramazuzu is an intriguing indie. The presentation is excellent, the storytelling and dialogue even better, and eventually, the tempo kicks in, and it becomes a satisfying experience. Just be mindful of the troll tactics from the NPCs at the beginning. Apologies for being vague, but you’ll have to explore this exquisite world yourself.

The verdict?