It was all the way back in October of last year that we were intrigued by a gorgeous animated trailer for the upcoming game A Skeleton Story. Then, months and months passed by with nothing more about the game, until last month when A Skeleton Story reappeared with some new in-game screenshots. We even had some hands-on time with a preview version of the game, which revealed itself to be a Canabalt-esque run and jump affair. After a turbulent journey, A Skeleton Story [99¢] has finally arrived in the App Store. While it contains some interesting ideas that attempt to set it apart from similar games in the genre, unresponsive controls and slow, repetitive gameplay keep it from being anything special.
The most notable drawback in the game are the lackluster controls. The directional stick that controls your character’s movement is often unresponsive, and for a game that demands quick reactions this results in many frustrating deaths. Also there is an odd delay when firing your weapon, so most the time you will have already passed an enemy that you intended to kill before the shot fires. This causes you to have to stop, turn around, and fire in the opposite direction than you are traveling, which breaks the flow of the gameplay and is never a good sign in a game where the goal is to be constantly moving forward. These problems are even more pronounced due to the slow pace of the game to begin with.
One cool aspect to A Skeleton Story is the upgrade shop that lets you spend the coins you earn during play on enhancements to things like speed, life, and firepower. Upgrading these attributes alleviates the problem of the slow gameplay somewhat, but not much. It also doesn’t help that less than a week ago we were treated to the sublime gameplay that is Monster Dash [99¢], which really nailed the controls and pacing that A Skeleton Story seems to have been shooting for. The art in A Skeleton Story is well done, although it’s a shame that all the potential of the trailer never gets fully realized with such shallow gameplay. For a dollar you may get enough enjoyment from the visual style alone, but in terms of fun factor and functionality it’s just too little too late for A Skeleton Story.