One of the staples of a Legend of Zelda game—and the many, many games Link’s adventures have inspired—is a steady progression of new tools or abilities to help you explore. But with Skjoldur Story, solo developer Snoozing Pixel decided to flip that idea on its head: your shield is the only tool you get.
The catch is that it’s a magical shield, and blocking enemy attacks allows you to temporarily steal their abilities, and thus use them to solve puzzles and overcome the obstacles you encounter. In that, Skjoldur Story is less about amassing a suite of upgrades, and more about figuring out how to use each environment and the enemies within it to move forward.
Skoldur Story takes place in a vibrant, pastoral world seen through cute pixel art and lighthearted music, but Snoozing Pixel warns that “players should be ready for a difficult challenge.” Dungeons can be unlocked in any order, and the game encourages creative problem-solving with “little hand holding”. (That said, there are plans to include an easy mode as well.)
“Older titles like Legend of Zelda, Kirby’s Adventure, and Super Mario Bros were incredibly special to me during my childhood,” said Adam Ampulski, sole member of Snoozing Pixel. “They were fun and distinctively tough, and therefore very rewarding. I just wanted to make a game that childhood-me would love.”
Skjoldur Story has been in development since 2017, and will be Snoozing Pixel’s first published game. It launches April 30 (May 1 in New Zealand) on Steam—as always, if you like the look of the game and want through the developer some support ahead of release, adding it to your Steam wishlist goes a long way.