By Chris Picone, 22 May 2023
Skeleton Punchers is an awesome roguelike brawler that's all about the rule of cool. In terms of gameplay, the easiest way to explain this gem is that it's like a side-on version of games like Vampire Survivors. It's fast-paced, super fun, and has a bangin' soundtrack.
Absolutely gnarly retro graphics that make it look like an oldschool platformer but without the platforms. The parallax backgrounds are gorgeous, adding some sweet atmosphere without being distracting. The enemies are some nicely stylised mini sprites - except the bosses and minibosses, which are frequently gigantic. There's also a very nice range of enemies; initially you'll fight skeletons and bats and the odd knight but as you progress you'll fight everything from ninjas to witches to giant robots, dudes on hoverbikes, just about anything you can think of.
Three buttons: Jump, dodge, and attack! Just like in Vampire Survivors-type games, your character is overpowered and can kill most enemies (even several at once!) in a single hit. The game starts easily as you face simple skeletons who will either try to hit you with a club or else throw an easily-dodged bone at you but as you progress you'll face flying enemies and other who will shoot at you or who carry giant bombs around. You need too keep culling the enemies or the swarm gets too large but you will find you will need to jump attack the flyers and dodge the bullets or you'll get wiped out pretty quick. And the game ramps up the longer you survive, initially spawning enemies faster and faster, then making them tougher and spawning stronger enemies or even one of the game's many wicked mini bosses. But that's fine because every time you kill an enemy they drop some loot; collecting this provides experience and as you level up you gain select upgrades from a range of passive abilities that make you more and more powerful. A cannon fires every time you punch, missiles drop on a timer, bombs drop when you dodge, your enemies explode when you kill them: The trick to winning is finding the right mix of abilities. What's even cooler is that Skeleton Punchers features day/night cycles where only the upgrades unlocked during each phase trigger, so for example the missiles will only drop during the day and the healing mushrooms are only available at night. It's great for variety and adds an extra element of strategy to your upgrade choices. There's a huge range of upgrades and, since this is a roguelike, you also unlock new ones between runs as you hit various achievements. You can also unlock new characters and equipment between runs to become even more powerful, allowing you to survive longer in each run. Make it to the end (and beat the big boss) and you can unlock a new level. There are even bonus minigame levels including a dodgeball level. Skeleton Punchers is much bigger than it looks at first glance.
Skeleton Punchers is awesome mindless fun. It's an terrific casual game; you can just pick it up for a quick game, punch a few skeletons, and move on with your life. But you won't, because it's super addictive. Happy punching!