‘Skylanders Imaginators’ Review: Customization Is The Name Of The Game And That Game Is Awesome

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'Skylanders Imaginators' will release Oct. 16 Activision

The Skylanders franchise innovated the toys-to-life genre and paved the way for the now defunct Disney Infinity, Lego Dimensions and the still popular amiibo figures from Nintendo.

But after 15 years, Toys for Bob and Activision finally add another layer to Skylanders in Skylanders Imaginators. This time around, players can create their own Skylander and also explore and complete the story alongside mainstays like Spyro and Stealth the Elf.

This is the biggest selling point of Skylanders Imaginators and the team pulls it off wonderfully using a deep customization system.I found myself spending way too much time going through every option to get my Imaginator just right.

There are plenty of games that have a customization or a creation suite, but Skylanders Imaginators is deep and it only gets deeper as you progress through the story. No two Imaginators will be the same and that needs to be commended.

However, I wish the bonuses my Imaginator receives from new gear will transfer to the gear I actually want. There’s a lot of times where I want to boost my attack or defense, but I don’t want to sacrifice style or the look of my Imaginator. If you’re a player that’s not as vain as I am and are simply looking for the best equipment, then you won’t have a problem, but it would be nice to have the same or close to the same look for your character throughout the game.

Creation Crystals are also introduced in Imaginators, allowing for players to store the data of their personal Imaginator on the toy for easy mobility. If you have a friend who has the game, you can take your Crystal with you and upload your Imaginator onto their game for some good ol’ fashioned local multiplayer.

However, only one Imaginator data can be stored on each Crystal, so if you’re the creative type be prepared to shell out money.

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Multiplayer is possible in 'Skylanders Imaginators' Photo: Activision

New Skylanders are introduced in Imaginators in the form of Senseis. Senseis are stronger than your average Skylander and they can teach special techniques to your Imaginator depending on class and element type.

Not only does this allow for additions to growing collections, but the Senseis play a big role in the story itself and how you play the game.

Scattered throughout the game’s levels are shrines that can only be opened by a specific type of Sensei. Opening these shrines allows for new techniques to be taught to your Imaginator to add to the customization I spoke about earlier.

Players can even control Crash Bandicoot and Dr. Cortex, two characters who haven’t been in a game in some time, as Senseis and those who are nostalgic will love how they play and the levels that come with them.

There are also Sensei Realms with new levels and puzzles that can only be opened by certain types of sensei. This adds a great deal to the gameplay of Skylanders Imaginators.

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Senseis add a new layer to 'Skylanders Imaginators' Photo: Activision

And speaking of gameplay, if you’re familiar with the Skylanders games, then you know what to expect. You’ll go from level to level breaking items for coins, taking down hordes of enemies and solving puzzles to achieve objectives. Each level ends with a boss battle.

It’s simple, but Skylanders does it very well. With the various characters, weapons and techniques you can use (and the way you can switch out characters on the fly), gameplay doesn’t get stale.

If you are not familiar with Skylanders, you can liken the gameplay to the Lego games. It’s very similar in execution.

The difficulty level is what you should expect from a game that is geared towards kids ages 10 and up. I started out on the normal setting to gauge the difficulty and once you got into the groove of the game it became very easy. Players can adjust the difficulty level to suit play styles, but the default level is pretty easy. I just wish I could rotate the camera to see where I’m walking half the time, but you get used to it.

Difficulty can compound when factoring how quickly your Skylanders level up. I used my Imaginator for most of my gameplay and I reached the max level in a few hours.

Another thing to note is your Imaginator’s max level is raised by one every time you scan a Sensei into the game starting from 15. So if you don’t have many Sensei figures, you’ll be maxed out very quickly.

The story is pretty straightforward, longtime Skylanders villain Kaos has found a way to create his own army of warriors called Doomlanders as he seeks the knowledge to take over the Skylanders world.

The game does a good job of introducing the world and the new elements for newcomers to the franchise, while keeping the humor and tone of the past games. Even though this game is geared towards younger players, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the dialogue.

Overall, Skylanders Imaginators is a great next step in the evolution of the franchise. Being able to create your own Skylander is a big deal and the team got it right with such a deep and rich customization option.

I’ve found myself wanting to collect all the new gear, weapons and techniques more than trying to complete the story as fast as possible to really get the most out of my custom character.

Adding Senseis into the mix was another great way to add a lot of gameplay outside of the main story and to make the mythos of Skylanders deeper.

The story and gameplay are fun and while the difficulty level is low, it’s appropriate, considering who the core audience for these games are. With that being said, even adults can find a lot of fun playing Skylanders Imaginators, I know I did.

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