Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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We all know nothing is certain but death and taxes, but we also believe taxes cease when our heart beats its last. Right this minute, there are almost certainly several freshly-planted corpses wearing peaceful, knowing grins that say, "Ha! The tax man can't get me now!"
I'm afraid I've got some bad news.
Skullduggery! by ClutchPlay Games lets us in on a secret that stinks like a week-old viewing: we have to pay taxes in the netherworld. Moreover, ghostly collectors are even more persistent - and considerably more violent - than their mortal counterparts.
Ah, but there's a dash of good news as well. In Skullduggery!, players take the role of the bill collector, not the hapless mark. But be warned: while the game's bone-headed protagonist can dish out punishment, so can his targets.
Skullduggery! is an action/physics game starring a skull. Yep. Just a skull. Players move Bonesy (a general name; players can choose one of several skulls, each of which has its own moniker) by pulling on the back of his skull, which stretches delightfully thanks to his still-attached brain matter. When players choose a direction and let go, Bonesy snaps forward and careens through passageways, pipes, and into deadbeats. He's a slingshot and a projectile wrapped into one convenient package.
Skullduggery! takes place across several locales, including a school, a city, and a Pyramid. Some of its levels have a platforming flare, wherein players slingshot their way through stages, bean enemies, and "re-possess" coins/treasure. Other levels involve running away from constantly-moving threats like giant rolling skulls ("The Headmaster"), spiked walls, and Anubis himself.
Moving through Skullduggery!'s platforming levels is a great deal of fun. It's incredibly satisfying to ricochet off enemies, hunt for treasure, clatter through pipes, and discover hidden passageways and alternate paths.
The chase scenes are a bit more frustrating and tedious. Pulling back on Bonesy's brain matter slows the action to a crawl so players usually get a chance to chart their course. It's not always enough time, though. Especially when the oncoming threat is huge and a single touch means death. The chase with the Headmaster is particularly rage-inducing, as it goes on for quite a while and there are no checkpoints. Death (rather, re-death) means starting the chase all over again.
But players may well find themselves determined to push through Skullduggery!'s rough spots just to get another chance to snap and fling through the rest of the game. Collecting on unpaid taxes is a rough job for both the living and the dead, but at least Skullduggery! makes it fun. Most of the time.