SideQuest Studios are attempting the turn-based strategy RPG genre yet again with the follow-up to their 2012 hit Rainbow Moon.
Rainbow Skies may look a lot like Rainbow Moon but it's a different enough experience. For starters, the battle system is incredibly easy to understand and even genre newcomers can jump in and have a good time within its simplistic core gameplay. Basically, allies and foes take turns based on their stats and once it's your turn, you tap directional buttons in order to move one square at a time. As soon as you try and move into an enemy, your character will attack them. Additionally, you can use items and skills to help gain the upper-hand. Moving and performing actions consumes points so the best strategy is to make sure every move counts. The battles take place on grids and are laid out on an angle so it can be tricky to know exactly where each directional button moves so thankfully, you can see right on the map. It's easily digestible stuff yet can get rather challenging as you progress through the story.
Unfortunately, the story in Rainbow Skies isn't very interesting or engaging. It follows the hero Damion as he trains to become a monster tamer. However, he soon accidentally crashes down from his floating continent only to end up on the surface of the mysterious planet below. He's joined with his best friend Layne and the two of them meet a young lady named Ashly shortly into their journey. There's a larger conflict going on as they find themselves in the middle of a war but the plot is so generic that I honestly stopped caring a handful of hours into the campaign. Thankfully, there are plenty of humorous moments and reading the dialogue can be rather enjoyable as a result. The characters certainly have strong personalities and are delightful in their own unique ways.
What I found to be Rainbow Skies' most immersive aspect is its party customization and growth mechanics. Besides levelling up and buying new equipment, you can also use a large assortment of items in order to unlock permanent upgrades such as more inventory slots, character skills, and stat increases. You'll also earn blue, red, and yellow points that you can spend to increment each character's stats as well as skill expanders that can actually increase a skill's range. Finally, you can visit loads of shops that offer unique items and upgrades including a blacksmith, a book shop, and even a monster farm. In addition to these somewhat in-depth systems, there are tons of side-quests and collections to complete within the pause menu. You can play for dozens of hours and still have lots to do.
My main complaint with Rainbow Skies is just how tedious it becomes after a while. It's one of those games that's best played in short bursts because trying to play any more than that will likely result in you getting annoyed, especially if you're as impatient as I am. This is due to two main reasons. Firstly, the battles take an incredibly long time to work through. Even easy enemies might use skills that you have to sit and watch as you and your foes slowly inch towards each other. It gets monotonous fast. The other contributor to this sense of tedium is the fact that the gameplay loop is super-repetitive. All you really do is work from point A to point B while fending off enemies. Sure, there are side-quests and such but nothing really breaks out of this basic and repetitious formula.
If you're looking for a simple SRPG that you can sink a ton of time into then Rainbow Skies is a must-buy game. On the other hand, those who want something more immediately gratifying should probably look elsewhere.
- + Simple yet satisfying turn-based battles
- + Fun characters / lots of humorous moments
- + Party growth mechanics are very rewarding with numerous aspects to improve
- - Battles tend to take way too long
- - Story is far from unique and engaging
- - Gameplay loop gets tiring fairly fast