Rainbow Skies combines an RPG overworld, turn based strategy combat, fourth wall breaking dialogue and monster taming into this indie style game which seems to have all the elements for a retro yet unique take on the genre.
The game itself is well executed, combat is fluid and you can pick or avoid battles as you please, as there are random battles that you can choose to fight or ignore, as well as foes walking on the map who you can choose to fight or ignore at least until you need to get through the path they are guarding. The over world map consists of plenty of treasures, side quests, caves with extra treasures and hidden treasures so exploration does have its merits. Towns are minimalistic as is story, and dialogue attempts to be light and full of humour, with intent of being a parody of the ragtag group of heroes we so often see.
Graphically the game is colourful, but dated and animations are stiff and limited. Voice acting, sound and music do not detract from the game but add little to it, overall this is a game that largely focuses on and thus will have to stand on its gameplay and combat.
The combat maps are extremely simplistic. Elevation isn’t a factor and obstacles are limited, so it basically boils down to your party versus the enemy party or more often, enemy horde. There is eventually a great selection of spells, gear and enemies which means variety in how you handle situations. You also feel a definite power boost from levelling and using skill stones to increase your stats.
If you can tough it out for the ten or so hours it takes to get out of the tutorial.
Deep into the game I was still fighting the same enemies I was fighting one hour into the game. A single encounter could take half an hour, or you may run across a foe one level higher than your party and be wiped out in a single turn. Coming into contact with a group of twenty enemies means you can run hundreds of individual turns during a single fight.
Just getting out of the first area, without intentionally grinding it already felt like I’d been through a major slog. I love turn based strategy RPG games, they have never been the quickest of battles due to the strategy component- but it feels like this game could learn a lot from the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea.
It is one thing to have a battle last half an hour to an hour, which is a staple of a genre, and another to have you fight that same battle fifty times in a row- which is not a staple of the genre and makes a game with potential lose most of it. There is nearly no strategy involved, for the most part you simply struggle until you are more powerful than the enemy, and until then you keep them bound in place and chunk fireballs at them.
You learn new skills and become stronger at a painfully slow pace, which in turn means you simply don’t have anything else to add to your combat strategy to make getting through easy fights more efficient or take you through difficult fights.
I cannot feel excited about a strategy game where I’m doing the exact same thing for five hours in a row to the same pool of 3-5 enemies that have the same attacks while I’m using the same skills. It doesn’t sound appealing when I say it out loud and it feels much less so when I’m actually doing it. My main complaint about a strategy game should never be that it is so simple it bores me.
There are other, small gripes with the game. Inventory management becomes an annoyance, particularly potions as you pick up scores of them in many fights where you don’t need them, yet never have enough in the rare fight you need too many. Combat movement is simple, yet targeting for abilities is clunky. The high degree of map clutter makes it often annoying to figure out where there’s a path or not.
However, while the game itself has enjoyable elements and my gripes are generally mild, I find it difficult to recommend this game to anyone unwilling to put up with a long and very slow start, to get to a somewhat decent game. The dialogue and tutorials have some charm as they treat the main character, rightly, like an idiot, but nothing really can make up for a game being boring. A heavy grind component does not need to be tedious, and even for those looking for a grind heavy strategy RPG there are many others that do it far better.
There is a decent, competent game in here, but it’s been stretched out too thin.