As players begin Necklace of Skulls, they choose to take on the role of a warrior, huntress, wayfarer or sorceress, each with different skills and special abilities, based on that character’s individual background. The wayfarer, for instance, is a more cunning character than the huntress, who is herself more agile, and so on. Each character also has its own stamina (used in combat), health and cacao (currency) stats. The game supports multiple save slots, so users can try the story again with different characters.
In each chapter, players read the text like a book, and can typically make decisions at the end of most pages. Like a classic “choose your own adventure” book, the story unfolds in different ways, depending on the decisions players make. These decisions may be as simple as conversation options when speaking to another character, or as important as battle tactics when in combat with enemies.
If players make poor decisions, they can lose access to items, or worse, lose life points (or actually fail the game entirely, only to be reverted to their last checkpoint). The characters’ skills also have an impact on the choices one can make, as some options simply aren’t available unless players have specific skills or traits.
During battle encounters, players can tap on buttons to attack, rest or defend. These are true gameplay moments, as players choose three tasks in a row as the enemy secretly does the same. When players have made their choices, the results for the enemy are revealed and the actions compare. If both characters attacked, for example, both players lose health. If one character attacks and the other defends, the attack still damages the defender, but to a lesser extent. Each action requires or replenishes stamina, and players can keep an eye on their health, and that of their opponent, in bars at the bottom and top of the screen, respectively.
Players can spend their collected cacao as they play, purchasing healing items from marketplaces, or opening up new areas of the story, for instance. Users may also come across these healing items as they progress through the story. If players don’t like the particular outcomes they receive during a chapter, they can replay it to make different decisions. Each chapter is listed alongside the total possible sections one can unlock, so readers have an idea of how much content they’ve yet to discover.
Necklace of Skulls is available to download for $2.99 on the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Fans of the book’s artwork can download a separate (and free) device wallpaper app on iOS and Android as well.