Skautfold: Usurper 👎🏻

Sunday, February 21, 2021
5 min read



This is a Metroidvania with a hub-and-spoke map layout that incorporates Lovecraftian imagery.

You play as a knight possessed by a creature, and gain typical Metroidvania power-ups along the way. There is a sort of very limited and clumsy skill-system, which boils down to, how large do I want my guard pool, and what sort of weapon would I like to use?

You progress through the game, collecting Yth stones to enable skill-wheel upgrades, and vitae, which stands in as currency after the fashion of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.

Gameplay–at least until meeting the Queen–is pretty linear, with hard-gates dictating where you can go–your desire to explore the map will be stymied by red blocks and by blue blocks, through which you will be unable to initially proceed.

This is the most unfortunate of all the Metroidvanias, the one that could have been interesting, yet falls down due to technical decisions and limitations.


At the time of review, this game is $9.99 on Steam in the USA.

Rating - 🐈 🐈

🐈 🐈 ❌ ❌ ❌


Do not buy this game.

There are a SLEW of better Metroidvanias out on the gaming market, even some of those that may not immediately look like a typical Metroidvania (e.g. The Messenger). At its $9.99 price-point, there are a LOT of significantly-better games to choose from.

The developer has made it abundantly clear in the Steam support forum for the game that he doesn’t know how to help many players with game issues, nor is he interested in hearing suggestions, bugs, or translation requests.

Were this an early-access game, and were the developer interested in improving the game and addressing significant technical issues, there would be a recommendation to buy here, contingent on continued updates coming out, and support requests being acknowledged and managed.

Hours played at review-time: 4.4

Detailed Review and Information



Metroidvania, 2D Platformer


The music is atmospheric. Decent-enough and in-place enough to feel derivative, but this is probably a sign of the soundtrack blending in with the brooding nature of this game.

It is what is expected. Check-mark.


When static, the pixel-art is decent enough. Next to the rest of the game, it’s excellent.

However, when these pixels are animated, all does not go well for this game. The animation loop is a sloppy, sluggish mess–the game itself plays at 44-45 FPS, but the animations and sloppiness of animating make the game feel far, far slower.

It is a painful slog to even walk about the map, as the animations give the character a delayed feeling. When coupled with input lag, the whole experience is rather poor.



The initial control layout, on the Xbox 360 controller, is wrong and can leave a player with any time in video-gaming wondering why these controls were chosen.

control key
Jump A
Attack Right Shoulder*
Use/Interact X
Cancel B
Move Left analog
Move around a dialog screen D-Pad*
Change weapons D-Pad
Guard Left Shoulder
??? Left Trigger*
Menu Start
Inventory/Map/Power-Ups Select

I’ve marked particularly-confusing choices with an asterisk * above.

Correctness of Controls

Wall-jumping isn’t quite right, but is one of the stand-out movement modalities in this game. Wall-jumping is difficult to get correct, and this game does a nearly-middling job of it.

Collision-detection is not implemented as one would anticipate. For box-2d-style colliders, it is customary to employ a capsule hitbox for the player, so they can freely run up a 45-degree incline, for example. Underneath London, there are some tunnels that reveal a likely-rectangular hitbox surrounding the player, leaving the character unable to scale a simple 45-degree uphill grade.

Controller detection and/or hot-switch/hot-swap

I saw no evidence of being able to swap between a keyboard, controller, or a controller type in-game.


Initially, I had believed the game-loop was at fault for the painfully-sluggish performance this game exhibits.

It turns out that, on closer inspection and with an FPS counter running, this game does run more slowly than anticipated–at 44-45 FPS–but the culprit of sluggish movement, sluggish attacking, missed inputs, and so forth is much more likely to be the animations themselves.

When the pixels go from static to animated, it is clear that not enough intermediate frames were used, the animations were poorly-handled, or “some other issue” has occurred, whereby the animations are very slow and actively detract from the gameplay experience.


Game Maker Studio or Game Maker Studio 2 is employed.

Level design / layout / maps

Level design and layout are on the poor side of middling, with sloppy figure-ground confusion artifacts dominating the scene and making level traversal more difficult than it should be.

The map itself is a hub-and-spoke design, although the map screen is implemented backwards, meaning that the player moves the “paper” on which the map appears, rather than moving the view over this “paper.” This makes for a confusing, baffling, and sloppy experience which is in-line with the orientations, inclinations, and technical capabilities of this developer.


Poor at best.

Many interactions are muddy or confusing, with quite a few being flat-out wrong and failing to learn from four decades of video game design.


The developer is one person, who is either “only just scraping by” (Steam forums) or “doing very well” at game development, his full-time job.

He has consistently met requests or criticism by hiding behind the Steam refund policy, being aggressive or abusive, or just flatly saying, “I don’t know how to help you.” Or guiding users through a delightful journey of hand-editing a configuration file.

On the whole, these actions and behaviors do not match those that I have seen from quality software or game developers, and lead to a puzzling interaction and experience.

I cannot imagine the experience of needing technical help from this developer.



This is an individual who understands neither the hard-science side of what he’s doing, nor the soft-science of after-sales support.

He has released four games to date. I have played two, found them to suffer from all the issues found in Usurper, and sadly have the other two games in my Steam library, unopened and now no longer covered under the Steam refund policy.


Game Release Date
Skautfold: Shrouded in Sanity May 2016
Skautfold: Usurper February 2018
Skautfold: Into the Fray March 2019
Skautfold: Moonless Knight March 2020

Shop Type

Single-developer, full-time, only job.