|That's some pretty skimpy battle armour you're talking about|
I'm not usually a big fan of JRPGs but I had a superb experience playing the game To the Moon which on first appearance looks like a JRPG but won me over for three reasons:
- It is actually an adventure game (point 'n' click adventures being one of my favourite genres)
- It isn't set in your usual fantasy world like most JRPGs are
- It was developed using RPG Maker
What I like
- Tries to be different than your usual JRPG: There are a few things here that differentiates it from other JRPGs. Firstly, it has a Steampunk setting which is a rarely used setting in this sort of game. Skyborn also contains a crafting system for weapons and armour (similar to Diablo in a way) which means you at least get a bit more customisation of the party besides simply buying weapons and armour at the shop. The combat also involves a "Threat" system which is akin to the "aggro" concept from MMOs (i.e. AI tends to attack characters they deem as a threat first)
- Intriguing plot: There are some cringe-worthy moments but overall the plot is reasonably well done and so far I'm liking the sub-plot involving the "half-breed" Skyborn; their apparent alienation by both humans and Skyborn shows a certain sense of maturity and empathy by the scriptwriter.
What I don't like
- Still a JRPG: JRPGs to me suffer from two-dimensional characters or brooding teenagers for your party. They also tend to have linear narratives and limited character customisation (in terms of skill upgrades or appearance). Skyborn hasn't really changed this view except its characters do break the mould somewhat.
- Save system: While it's good that the game allows you to save games whenever you want to, you seem to be limited by only four save game slots. I'm not sure if this is a limitation imposed by RPG Maker but it's already resulted in me losing a lot of progress because I didn't manage to save at the right spot, mainly because I was worried about saving too often.
- Price: Okay the game isn't exactly expensive, it's only $15, but considering there's some fierce competition out there from other retro games (e.g. the Heroine's Quest which is absolutely free), it's a hard sell.
VerdictThe game is okay and it does do a bit more to a genre that isn't exactly one of my favourites. However, it remains to be seen if the plot holds up right to the end since only then will I be able to make my final decision on this game's worth. So far, so good though.
[ LINK: Official Skyborn website ]