An enjoyable game with a unique mechanic where you can absorb an enemy’s projectile as your own.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Puzzle
Developer: Snoozing Pixel LLC
Publisher:Snoozing Pixel LLC
Release date: 1 May, 2021
Skjoldur Story is what will come out if you mix an action-adventure game with Kirby. You will have Kirby‘s ability to absorb enemies’ projectile as your own along with a shield to deal with the enemies. The game also does a clever job in integrating this ability – instead of making you “eat” the projectile, you just need to deflect it with your shield to absorb it. Each projectile works in a different way, which offers infinite possibilities.
The visuals look pleasant to the eye. Simple-looking, light-colored visuals are available to feast your eye, all while still giving uniqueness to each area. The menu is also neatly designed, trimming down the fat to include the important parts. What pleases me the most is the map – it looks like a zoomed-out version of the whole area, especially since it updates everything: unopened chests, secret areas – you name it. You just need to open your map to find missed items, cutting down the unnecessary time exploring the already-explored areas several times.
The game gives you the freedom in exploring everything in any order that you want. Four areas are available to explore, each with different environments and enemies. Dungeons are also available at the end of each area, which focuses on different projectile mechanics.
Absorbing an ability is done by “deflecting” a projectile with your shield. Strangely, I thought that I needed to press the throw button to raise my shield to make it happen, and this makes the game to be harder than it should. Pressing that button will cause you to throw a projectile if you have one absorbed, allowing you to take damage in the process. Holding this button will also render you immobile sometimes, which gave me the hard time clearing the first dungeon. Luckily, I was able to figure out my mistake before I reached the second dungeon, and the game didn’t give me problems ever since.
Instead of introducing enemies that are easier to figure out near your starting area, it introduces an enemy with a unique projectile mechanic. I was still struggling with the basic mechanics, and it took me several minutes before I could understand how this particular projectile works. Luckily, this is the only enemy that gave me the hard time in the game, although this also means that the game becomes easier as you progress further. Fortunately, it raises the bar again in the final dungeon, introducing a more difficult area and tricky boss.
One area looks a bit lazy in the projectile department – it introduces enemies with a physical attack, which will render your shield to be a mere tool to whack your enemies. Your shield is not an offensive weapon, so it has a poor reach and not suitable for combat. The slow attacking animation and the missing feature of vertical walking also do not help in this regard. Some animals can be ridden to ease you with the combat, although the lack of the facing up and down display makes it hard to notice whether their attack will reach your opponent or not. Moreover, they will run away off-screen after a single hit, and risking your way to fetch them might softlock you.
Despite the rogue-lite tag on Steam’s store page, its features are lacking. Sure, you might have to respawn at the starting point if you die, but you keep almost everything. The only things that will reset are enemies and puzzles, which give unnecessary annoyances to the game. Some puzzles block the way to a certain area, and resetting this also means that you have to redo these puzzles whenever you die.
The game has a checkpoint system for its puzzles at some point, although its use is limited – I couldn’t seem to figure out how it works and when it does, it will soon be reset as you progress further in the game. Luckily, the checkpoint system will always work in dungeons – you’ll be respawned at the dungeon entrance or boss room whenever you die, although you are forced to fight the boss until you win in the latter case, or close the game to force a reset. Closing the game will treat you as dying, respawning you to the starting area. To be honest, this just gives more problems than benefits. It is not fun to walk the long way to the boss room again just because you have some business to attend to and had to close the game.
Puzzles are scattered everywhere, both in the overworld and dungeons. Some will utilize the projectile-absorbing mechanic, some are not. Although they usually won’t give you trouble, some will leave you stumped, making you think of whether you have to absorb a certain projectile to solve them. It took me a while to solve these kinds of puzzles, but it was satisfying when you clear them.
Length and Difficulty
The game states that I finished it in ~8h. It could be done shorter if not for the unnecessary backtracking and the puzzles’ behavior. I also didn’t notice that I could teleport to other places and had to walk to my destination manually whenever I died or closed the game. Heck, the only reason I found the teleport feature is because I was trying to figure out how to unlock the last achievement, which ironically happened after I finished everything.
The game can be hard at first. My initial experience wasn’t good with it because I was struggling with the controls. I died more than ten times in the first dungeon, whether it’s for clearing the dungeon or defeating the boss. The game becomes easier afterward, although I’m not sure whether it’s because I tackled the hardest dungeon first or because I had understood the controls afterward.
There are several occasions when the game glitched, forcing you to close the game.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
Despite the rough start, the game turns out to be an enjoyable one. The decision to implement the absorbing mechanic helps to give more variety to the puzzles, which is the strong suit for this game. Each dungeon is focused on a certain mechanic, and the execution of boss fights that utilize these particular mechanics also makes each dungeon to be unique. The “rogue-lite” mechanics might annoy you sometimes, but it’s still bearable.
The game is aimed at casual players, something that I didn’t expect after my experience in the first dungeon. You don’t have to explore everything to finish the game, and the optional contents are available for those who want more of the game. Secrets are also easy to find through the map, and even if you miss any, it won’t affect much to your completion. It’s an enjoyable game to play with its calming music and relaxing visuals.