Meet Claret Spencer: orphan, airship mechanic, and main character in one of the best ‘old school’ turn based RPGs that I have played to date. The game opens with Claret and her robot Coggie working in her shop; “Just another day in paradise, Coggie!”. (Bad move Claret! Don’t you know you’re in a game, you can’t say that!!) As expected, things quickly spiral out control. By nightfall she is allied with the human and half-breed rebel force working to overthrow an oppressive regime of angel-like creatures known as Skyborn.
I went into Skyborn completely blind, and would have sadly remained that way had I not received a free Steam key. Not being able to pass up the price I used the code, and jumped right in. The first thing anyone will notice is how good the art is in this game. I spent a lot of time wandering about the dungeons to see how much of the background art I could reveal. The game’s script is also on target; user reviews frequently remark on the quality of the writing. Overall the game art and story add to its allure while telling a great tale of rebellion and systematic indoctrination.
Skyborn’s combat system is an offshoot of the standard attack/magic/item/run menu system with the inclusion of threat and varied resource bars. Some of the characters have a traditional mana bar, while others work off a rage-like resource. The game utilizes standard RPG roles, with the first three characters you meet being a Tank, DPS, and Healer. The addition of threat in the game helps to keep the battles fresh and cuts out that horrific ‘my mage just face-tanked a boss crit’ feeling that is the standard for the genre. The enemies will send any of their single target attacks at the character with the highest current threat rating. This is influenced by the amount of damage the character does, with an emphasis on killing blows. The tank has skills that allow him to generate more threat per damage point, but my experience is that he can’t keep up with the DPS threat if you decide to go all out on the enemies. This turns the combat into a gambling game: can I finish the enemies before their turn or do I let the tank build threat before going all in with attacks? Your risk management skills will get a work out, in a very good way.The game continues to shine even outside of combat with the inclusion of multiple skin-deep mechanics. There are exploration points to reward the curious gamer, side quests with incredibly worthwhile rewards, and a few ‘end-game’ ultimate weapon hunter dungeons. There is a crafting system that offers faux choices. You can only make specific items for specifics characters, everything is tier based and with the inclusion of a weight/bld system the game really forces you to only make the light armor for the mage (not surprising, it’s the only armor with INT on it), heavy for the tank, and medium for the rest. There is also a fork based class changing system that allows you some control over party customization. The best part is that you can eventually unlock an ‘ultimate’ class that makes these choices irrelevant. Obtaining the ultimate class, the ultimate weapons, and all of the side quest goodies leads to one hell of a tough extra credit end game boss fight, which was a real pleasure.
All in all, Skyborn is an excellent game. It is definitely worth the $14.99 price tag and will keep you busy for 6-10 hours. The game as a whole does come across as ambitious and perhaps too much so, as it includes many great ideas that are never fully realized. Considering the ambition and design behind the game I will definitely be looking forward to future games from this developer.
Game Time: 6-10 hours
Genre: Turn-based RPG
Similar to: FFVI, FFIV, Dragon Quest