Don't adjust your screen: this isn't a brand new entry into the Ratchet & Clank series you somehow hadn't heard about. Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a 3D platformer that takes a serious dose of inspiration from Insomniac's incredibly successful series. Unfortunately, it's never able to reach the heights of the games it's striving to emulate.
The story sees Skylar, a humanoid cat, waking up on a space station with no memory and equipped with a robotic arm thanks to an evil robot by the name of CRT. After a daring escape, she crash lands on the tropical Clover Island where she encounters a talking owl named Plux and they set out on a journey to free the natives from none other than CRT and regain Skylar's memory. The story should sound very familiar if you're a Ratchet & Clank fan as it takes many plot elements from that series and mashes them together here.
Throughout the cutscenes, the game tries to hit the level of humour found in its peers, but falls short. Some of the attempts at eliciting laughs are downright terrible and not in a so bad it's funny way either, while a lot of the dialogue, particularly some of the banter between Plux and CRT, is absolutely cringe-worthy. There were multiple times where we wanted the characters to just shut their mouths and let us continue on with the level in peace.
The narrative also greatly suffers from Skylar being a silent protagonist. The reason for her not being able to talk is never really explained in the game, and we're supposed to infer that by losing her memories she also lost the ability to talk, even though by the end of the game she still can't speak. Having Skylar stay mute means you lose the kind of banter needed throughout a game like this. Most of the time it's just Plux talking to himself, so we never see a bond forming between them or any kind of development in their relationship. In fact, we're not entirely sure what the point of Plux is, as he isn't a part of the gameplay and never really interacts with Skylar.
While the story in Skylar & Plux falls flat, it succeeds in the gameplay department. You'll find mostly your standard 3D platforming fare on offer, but the developer has gotten the basic and fundamental elements right here, making the game fun to play. Initially, you have access to a grappling hook allowing you to swing across gaps, but slowly get a jetpack and the ability to control time added to your arsenal, incorporating an extra layer of difficulty to how you tackle each jump. These additions are well implemented and make for some interesting segments.
Combat is kept relatively simple, with Skylar having a basic strike attack, spin attack, and ground pound attack when in the air. Eventually, you'll gain access to a magnetic upgrade to your glove, which allows you to take over enemy robots and use their own weapons against them. It's incredibly satisfying to take control of a Gatling gun robot to mow down scores of tiny vicious robotic cats or send a missile flying back towards where it came from. As you defeat enemies you'll be rewarded with crystals as well as finding them scattered throughout levels and in wooden crates. These serve to refill your health, while also being used as currency to unlock natives from cages.
The one major drawback of the game's combat is that the load times after dying can be lengthy. This makes the more tricky enemy encounters and platforming segments more frustrating than they should be, as you'll have to sit at a loading screen for what feels like an eternity after each death. In reality, these loading screens are around 30 seconds long, but after having played numerous similar games that reload almost instantly it gets a little annoying.
However, the thing that most affects how enjoyable Skylar & Plux ends up being is the length. Overall, including the tutorial level, there are only four levels to play through, meaning the game lasts a little bit over two hours. Skylar going on an epic journey to recover her memories could have been a fun story to see play out, but instead, with such a short experience, it feels like losing her memories was merely a minor inconvenience. Similarly, the length doesn't allow a relationship between the protagonists to play out, and just as you're starting to gain some great gadgets to complement the combat and platforming, the game ends.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a sound gameplay experience, but lets itself down in a number of other areas. The humour and dialogue fall incredibly flat and there's really no rapport developed between Skylar and Plux during the game. The game's also very short, and while this isn't a terrible effort by any stretch, it begs the question why you wouldn't just play Ratchet & Clank instead.