Posted: December 16
Skyborn is a short but well executed RPG. It is an RPGMaker game, but the creativity present in this game allows it to shine despite the limitations of the engine.
Unlike many RPGs, Skyborn has zero random encounters. You encounter enemies by running into an enemy sprite on the map. The downside of this system is that enemies do not respawn, limiting resources somewhat. The lack of spawning enemies might be a limitation of RPGMaker, but Skyborn is so well polished that I can't even call this a limitation.
As a result of the enemy encounter system, there is effectively no gringind. Though this did shorten the game considerably, it kept it very much to the point. Leveling does very little to make things easier. Rather, what you do with your items, skills and equipment will ultimately determine the outcome of every encounter.
During battle, the order in which each character may act (both allies and enemies) is displayed, allowing for deeper levels of strategy. The display wasn't immediately self-explanatory, but I couldn't help but get excited once I realized what it was. A character's speed reflects the number of times they can act before another character. Speed is a critical factor in Skyborn. It can be increased with some careful planning, but will fall drastically if a character is loaded up with equipment that is heavier than they can handle.
The graphics are pleasant to look at, and are of a very high quality for a retro 2D RPG. If you don't believe me, check out the screenshots for this game. There's no background graphics for battles (the map graphics are darkened considerably), but this ironically kept me more immersed in the battle itself. The environments are varied and gameplay elements encourage exploring. Even when it's detrimental, I never go straight for the boss. I can't help myself.
The story is decent, well executed, and draws you in. On the down side, it is a bit short, and nothing surprising happens. Optional quests are also somewhat lacking due to the game's length, but most are quite fun and challenging.
There is an optional super-boss very near the end of the game. If you have any plans on beating it, you'll probably want to keep a save file before the point of no return, so you can experiment with equipment and other such things.
Skyborn is a much more casual RPG experience than I'm used to. But there are plenty of other casual RPGs that are phenomenal (Chrono Trigger and Earthbound to name a few). Skyborn isn't among the best RPGs I've played, but it is a clean, well polished game with its own unique charm.