SKELER BOY Review – The Frustrating Search For Megan

What would you do when someone you love goes missing? Searching for them is the obvious answer, but SKELER BOY takes that premise and runs with it. You play as the titular Skeler as he searches for his partner Megan. He searches every location he can find while getting help from the people he meets. It’s a story that borrows some elements from the horror genre but never shakes its core problems.

SKELER BOY is an action-adventure game by Maniac Boy Studio that is light on the action and heavy on exploration. Skeler is exploring houses, basements, and towns to find Megan, leaving no stone unturned. But the journey to find out what happened to Megan is more frustrating than it should be. While the game makes a valiant attempt to keep you engaged, the results are often unsatisfactory. You don’t know what’s going on and your goals are often unclear. This is a game that looks interesting but doesn’t deliver on its premise well.

SKELER BOY Megan Jail Cell
Megan’s gone missing, it’s not clear why, and it’s not ever clear.

SKELER BOY markets itself as an action game, but there isn’t much action-like combat. Instead, most of it is exploration and interacting with objects. There are some hairy situations but you aren’t button-mashing or fighting your way out. The adventure is there and you are solving puzzles to find out what happened to Megan. But the adventure isn’t appealing because you aren’t given clear objectives.

Finding Megan is the overarching goal but it’s not as simple as knowing what to look for. One search takes you into an abandoned cabin, the next you stop over at a city after running out of gas. Unfortunately, “finding Megan” isn’t exactly a clear objective in the scheme of things. You don’t know what clues lead to Megan, you only have a few locations where she could be, and you aren’t looking through them. As you adventure, you must stumble upon Megan’s locations unexpectedly because there’s no other way forward. This hurts the adventure because you don’t know what you’re looking for. You must investigate every little clue or object that looks remotely interactable or you might miss something. As fun as it is to pore over an area for clues, this isn’t touted as a mystery game. Clear goals and objectives help guide a player and keep an eye out. Directions prevent players from getting lost. Simple things that may seem unimportant, but are crucial to making sure players don’t waste valuable time.

SKELER BOY Sven Calling
Sven is your greatest ally that you randomly found while looking for Megan.

The story also takes some significant leaps and hopes you roll with it. For example, Sven is touted to be an important contact in the prologue as you contact him while searching for Megan. It turns out Sven is just some random person who hands you a walkie-talkie and offers to assist you in the search. Megan’s relationship with Skeler is also hard to understand as you switch between apparent lovers and people who don’t like each other. There’s a lot of story points where some exposition and better storytelling would help players, but this isn’t pursued.

The mini-games such as lock-picking or basic puzzle-solving are done well. But they also feel out of place since it’s not clear why they exist. For example, you are told lockpicking can fail and that costs a lockpick. But if you fail, where do you get another lockpick? Why does one of Megan’s locations have multi-colored doors with keys? It feels like a “Solve the Soup Cans” situation where puzzles exist for the sake of gameplay instead of fitting the narrative.

SKELER BOY Driving Roads
It’s as if you know where Megan is, but you still search other locations.

SKELER BOY does a great job in setting up a horror setting that makes you jump. There’s blood in some locations that you investigate, random noises appear when you are alone, and it’s often dark. It really makes you feel like something nefarious happened to Megan and you must rescue her. But it doesn’t fit with the theme of the game because it’s not part of the mystery genre. This doesn’t mean action-adventure games can’t have mystery, but it feels like the game spreads itself too thin. Without building on its strengths, it stumbles along the adventure and loses what charm it had.

SKELER BOY is an adventure game that does suck you in with an interesting premise. But the execution falls short several times, resulting in a game that’s frustrating to play. If the game stuck to being a mystery adventure with horror elements, it could shine. But as an ambitious action-adventure game, it falls short in several areas.

Victor played SKELER BOY on PC with a review code.

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