Skip’s Sanity Review – No Pay 2 Play

In ‘No Pay 2 Play’, we review free video games (whether they’re riddled with microtransactions and season passes or not) and then answer the golden question: is it worth adding to your game library?

Boring Details

Developed and published by David Donarumo. Released in March 2019. Available at itch.io and Steam. Achievements included.

Is Is Really Free?

Yes – the price was dropped to zero in March ‘19.

Some are too easy, some are too difficult. Here, you’ve got loads of health.

What’s It All About?

Skip’s Sanity is clearly inspired by the WarioWare series, where players must complete bite-sized games in rapid-succession. The catch is that each of them last only a handful of seconds, meaning speedy reaction times is a must-have skill. While most entries in Nintendo’s fantastic series tends to piece together well over 200 micro-games, this indie game offers 50 in total.

Once you start the game and pick a stage, you’re told a story about your buddy, Skip. During a road trip, Skip starts to act a bit weird, suddenly getting obsessed about things like bouncing balls, zapping aliens, and getting some beloved toilet paper. The only way to save his sanity is to beat these games he’s rambling on about. It’s nothing particularly important in the long run, and serves merely as a as a background decoration to the game at hand.

Playing unlocked mini-games turns some of them into a (dull) endless mode.

The controls are simple enough; all you need are the direction keys and the space bar. Luckily, you can play on a controller, too, which is the recommended way to play if you’re a seasoned fan of Wario’s wacky entries. There’s no pause button though; pressing the Esc key or the B-button will instantly end the game and throw you back to the menu without even asking whether you want to end it all or if you’d like a complimentary mint on your way out. In any case, there’s nothing much to say about the pixelated visuals or minimalistic, generic soundtrack. They get the job done, ‘nuff said.

Each stage lasts about two minutes, and are made up of ten mini-games each. You can expect side-scrollers, shooters, stacking games, and the occasional puzzle. A handful of them are kinda fun, and can be beaten on the first try if you’re quick enough. A few of them are too confusing to be beaten within a few seconds, too, or don’t make it clear what you’re supposed to press. For instance, one of them requires you to tilt a cannon at the right angle and tweak its firing power in order to hit an enemy, but doing this within a few seconds without any indication where the cannonball is going to land leaves it up to luck. Others have rules plastered in the corner of the screen for you to read while you’re playing. More than likely, the game will recycle mini-games you’ve already played seconds ago in order to elongate gameplay.

Replaying puzzle games like this are surprisingly fun and challenging.

Regardless, all of the stages end with a tricky boss mini-game, which needs to be completed to end the stage. These aren’t too daunting, and give you more time to get to grips on how to beat them. Honestly, though, it’s surprising to see that there are no game modes that toss together all of the unlocked mini-games thrown into one, forcing you to keep playing with the limited lives on offer.

Mini-games unlocked in the story mode can be played individually with a twist, e.g. pop as many balloons with your plane before your fuel runs out, shoot as many targets before time runs out, and so on. The objective here is to beat the high score on each game in order to unlock achievements and some boring toys to distract yourself with for a few seconds (e.g. 9×9 tile chess). The rewards are not worth it, and replaying games that ask you to play for more than a minute continuously does make it all feel like a time-sucking chore (with a few exceptions, like playing card games, or slapping away balls in a clone version of Breakout). You can earn credits for beating these games, but it’s not clear what purpose they have. It’s like being rewarded with Monopoly money for winning a game of draughts. What’s the point?

Shoot just one? Too easy.

Verdict

Skip’s Sanity is one big shrug of the shoulders. Most of the mini-games on offer are either too bland or irritating to enjoy, even if some of them are nice little distractions when played individually. The visuals, sound and plot are unremarkable, and the controls, while simple enough to get ahold of, lack a pause button but will gladly end the game at a single press. You might get a small kick out of this one for how challenging it can be at times, but even as a freebie, Skip’s Sanity is an unappetizing morsel and is far from a must-have, free-to-play game.

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