Publisher: Ponywolf LLC
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Skipchaser is a brand new early access indie game from developer Ponywolf. It is a twin-stick shooter in the vein of Miami Hotline and Enter the Gungeon. You play a Skipchaser in this stylized shooter, but does this early access release have enough to keep you coming back to future updates?
What They Did Right
There are two area’s of the game that Ponywolf has created well thought out concepts, weapon crafting and style.
The art style in this game has a distinct vibe that sets itself apart from others in the genre. Pulling on the string’s reminiscent of Adult Swim cell-shaded cartoon’s, Skipchaser does an excellent job at putting you in a unique future that is all it’s own. It’s ill-fitting geometric shape’s will have you enchanted from the minute you dropped onto its planet.
Music in this game is looking to be on the level of the art. Being early access we have a very limited scope of the soundtrack, but what we do have, already has a spot waiting for it in my everyday playlist.
A large pillar that this game is choosing to stand on, is it’s weapon modification/creation system (and armor in future versions). Opening loot crates in the game and completing missions will garner you blueprints and parts for weapons in Skipchaser. When back on your spacecraft or at crafting station’s in the world, you choose to modify your weapon or create brand new ones from scratch. Changing out the barrel, stock and scope on your gun will effect your stats. The modifications you make for your weapon will largely depend on your preferred play style in the game, and there are a lot of options. If this is just the early access surface of this system, I can’t wait to see how much further Ponywolf takes it.
What They Could’ve Done Better
Skipchaser is a twin-stick shooter, and if there is one thing that games in this genre have to deliver on is the gameplay. The shooting has to be addictive and deep enough to have you re-rolling through the procedural levels. Ponywolf has some ground to cover before it’s where the game should probably be. While the shooting mechanics are very easy to understand, there is little depth to what you are doing. Your secondary attack, grenades, is far too simple and straight forward. There definitely needs to be the implementation of a charging system so you can decide how far you throw grenades (and the developer has already said this is coming!). An addition of meleeing or rolling would also be helpful when enemies are getting too close.
The other area that the game could see some improvement, are the types of enemies you encounter. Developer Ponywolf boasts of thousand of different combinations of enemies who are procedurally put together. While aesthetically, if you’re looking close enough, they are correct – but in their gameplay, they feel a bit too similar to each other to notice any kind of difference.
Last on the area’s of improvement would have to be the story. This is easily the most forgivable area of the game because of its early access status. That being said, for a game that advertises itself as a story driven adventure, there wasn’t too much of a story hinted at – it’s not that it effect’s its early access at this point, but it is missed.
What They Shouldn’t Have Done
It’s really hard to pin this game down on anything they really shouldn’t have done gameplay wise. There are some serious bones of a great game just sitting in front of you – ready for Ponywolf to come in, make a few adjustment and take you to the promise lands of twin-stick shooter heaven. But that’s almost exactly what they shouldn’t have done, release it into early access before they fleshed out more content for what their vision for Skipchaser is. I love everything about what Ponywolf is wanting to do, I just hope they haven’t ruined my idea of the game by coming out of the blocks too early.
Skipchaser is looking to be a promising game in the indie world. It’s unique style sets itself apart visually, and I can’t wait to see what future updates bring to this game. But in its current state, it’s hard to recommend a game this early in its development. If you’re looking for about an hour of gameplay and want to support the developer Ponywolf, by all means, this is a purchase you should make. As a group tho, I feel like all of us are hoping they take the love they showed for their visuals and unique weapon building and apply that innovation to their gameplay.
Reviewed by: Brian @drnkie
Broken Review is a segment on the weekly podcast Backspace Nomads Podcast. You can find us live every Saturday night at 8 pm est on twitch.tv/backspacenomads. To connect with us, follow our twitter, @backspacenomads.
Brian @drnkie: The weapon modification & creation system is a massive highlight of Skipchaser, but this early access is too early and needs to sit in the incubator a little longer. I really want to see future updates.
Josh @JoshuaGoode: Skipchaser’s current state skips content but provides a foundation of fun. I’m keeping this one installed in anticipation of future updates. It’s a neat little shooter that, even in its early-early access, delivers some cool features; however, it does have some quirky annoyances and a content drought that will hopefully dissipate soon.