Skorecery has the potential to be a boisterous party game, but limited single-player options and an over-reliance on local multiplayer hold it back.
At its core, Skorecery resembles an updated form of Pong. An orb bounces around the screen, and players - who take the form of spellcasters - fight to catch the orb and hurtle it toward their opponent's floating, skull-like runes. In most of the game's modes, the player who destroys all of their enemy's runes wins. The mages run and jump around, shielding their runes with their bodies and making use of their most interesting ability: They can reverse gravity, sending themselves to the top or the bottom of the screen, depending on where they were prior to the swap. (Each player controls their own gravitational orientation.)
If players cling to the orb for too long, however, they are stunned, encouraging rapid decision-making and rewarding quick reflexes. Players can also receive occasional boosts from the spell they have equipped for the match; options include one that speeds up their character and another that freezes the orb in place.
Various toggleable "curses" in Skorcery allow players to customize their game settings. Activating "turret shot," for instance, bars characters from moving when they have the orb, while "friendly fire" lets players destroy their own runes. The curses lend some variety to the game modes, which are: quick play (1v1), exhibition (1v1 or 2v2), goaltender (players battle over a single rune that, when broken, gives the breaker a point and randomly relocates itself; this is the most fun mode), and shootout (like exhibition, but each player is restricted to 10 shots of the orb).
Quick mode uses a default curse and spell loadout, which suggests a competitive standard. And the game, once players absorb its mechanics and settle into a rhythm, can be compelling. The energy becomes frenetic: You run around, grasp for the orb, bounce your shots off the edges of the screen, block your opponent's attempts at your runes, flip gravity to run on the ceiling - there's a lot to do, and much of it is gripping.
But Skorecery faces a major obstacle: the absence of computer-controlled opponents and online multiplayer. That means that solo players can only play the tutorial and the practice mode - they can't face off against AI enemies or compete online. Another downside of the unavailability of AI opponents is that two players can't team up against computer foes. The option to do so would have made Skorecery more appealing to player pairings with disparate skill levels. But as is, those players have to play 1v1 - which can quickly get boring if matches are repeatedly one-sided.
Skorecery is fun, and when it works, it works satisfyingly well. And there's something admirable about putting forward a game expressly created for local multiplayer. But, unfortunately, it might just be too big of an ask. For many players, the inability to really dive into the game without another person in the room will be too great a hurdle to overcome.
Skorecery releases on April 4 on PlayStation 4 for $9.99. Screen Rant was provided with a download code for the purposes of this review.