Mirenia, the protagonist for The Skylia Prophecy, has been very naughty. Unleashing an evil some years ago, she’s pulled a classic “Meh. Someone else will sort it out” and walked away. Only nobody fixed it, thus realises that she’s the one to undo this mess.
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Like a 16-bit Ash Williams, only armed with a sword on her wrist instead of a chainsaw, she ventures forth in this side-scrolling action platformer with RPG elements. These games have a place in many of our hearts, and scrolling through the numerous titles on the eShop confirms that there’s a demand. Like the rogue-like, there’s an abundance to choose from.
No doubt, a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into the development of The Skylia Prophecy, from Ezekiel Rage and 7 Raven Studios. There’s no debate about commitment here, but as the end-user, it’s one of those games that sadly falls down the pecking order in the genre as a title you have to own.
Visually it’s pretty good. The screenshots back in November 2020(?) when it came out on Steam, looked good enough, though the Metroidvania terminology was a slight put-off. Still, as per the original news piece, the difficulty was proposed to be hard but fair. Having played it, The Skylia Prophecy doesn’t feel fair.
Mirenia shows up looking like the lead singer for a Skid Row or Mötley Crüe tribute band, armed with the pointy end of Cloud’s Buster sword but mounted to her wrist. Her first encounter is with an NPC that insinuates a tutorial is coming, but it doesn’t come to fruition.
A small crab-like creature spawns and paces back and forth without attacking. Tapping the assumed melee button (there are no tooltips), Mirenia’s blade goes over the beast, and there’s no directional attack or the option to do a diving plunge. Instead, she creates this wall of blue flame that resembles the force shield in Another World, presumably ‘block’, then the thing walks into it and dies.
After this, a couple more enemies appear, then it’s a case of meeting the locals. Each has a quip to say about locked doors or perhaps giving you a potion, but there’s no indicator to confirm the transaction. The only way you’ll know if you have something in your inventory to working out what button it is then looking at the picture. There’s no write-up either.
Leaving the area, Mirenia comes across a barrel that, when triggered, will blow up the wall blocking your path. You can’t hit it as she can’t aim, so you have to hold the block button. If you don’t hold it, she’ll die, and it’s game over and back to the very start. After about three attempts at this, it became clear that The Skylia Prophecy is a game that will test your patience.
Dark Souls is bound to crop up, and I recall reading that the game takes inspiration from that killing off the player to make it borderline permadeath. But Dark Souls is rewarding and one of my all-time favourite games. The same can’t be said about The Skylia Prophecy. Yes, there are checkpoints, but they aren’t too generous, and the risk of dying each time was demotivating – it just didn’t have that wow factor to persevere.
Perhaps it was the combat or even the item system. Visiting each town and villager in The Skylia Prophecy is the same experience. Due to the clumsy combat (the controls for movement are great), it’s easy to purchase something in error at the vendors. That said, you can’t buy much, but if you’re trying to buy keys to unlock an area, it’s annoying if you waste the money on potions.
The presentation was ok, but it starts getting samey, and the animation isn’t so great. On many occasions, the game developed into a platformer rather than action due to the enemy AI. They have a set pattern and pretty predictable with their squash-like projectiles. Engaging with them wasn’t worth it unless you couldn’t get past them. Even on easy mode, it’s so easy to die, and as mentioned, there’s not enough incentive to persevere.
Cathedral, also an action platformer, featured horrendous knockbacks from attacks, and the difficulty spiked to the point of ludicrous. However, there was a sense of reward with progression. Besides, you could at least aim your attacks with a piercing dive, unlike Mirenia’s limited moveset. Sure, there’s the block, but you have to stand still to use it and wait for the enemy to move into it.
If it’s about the grind, fine, but there’s no accurate indicator of levelling up other than locating the odd crystal and what-not. Additionally, while you’re aiming to level up, be aware that enemies don’t respawn if you’ve killed them and unlocked a checkpoint. If you’re struggling, you have to rinse the area before moving on.
The Skylia Prophecy never claimed to be innovative or a title that will change your life. The story and general set up are pretty generic, but that’s neither good nor bad. What lets it down is the difficulty. Sure, if you’re emulating the Dark Souls universe, it’s a given, and in The Skylia Prophecy, it does have the bonus of having difficulty levels. However, even on the easiest setting, admittedly my preference, it proves to be quite an arduous experience and perhaps best reserved for more apt, patient gamers.
- Tight controls for movement.
- RPG elements for levelling up.
- Nice artwork and decent music.
- Not very user-friendly.
- Lack of directional attacks.
- Poor, repetitive AI.
- Far too difficult, even on Easy.