In 2012, German indie studio Sidequest Studios released Rainbow Moon. This Playstation exclusive JRPG was not just well received critically, it gathered a strong core fan base. The studios main aim is to create games that iterate on classic game design, with some polish and clean current generation graphical enhancements. Enter their newest creation, Rainbow Skies. Cross play on PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, this title is a JRPG with gameplay coming straight from the 80s/90s but graphics fitting in perfectly in 2018.
Release Date: June 26th 2018
Size: 5.25 GB
Developed By: Sidequest Studios
Published By: Eastasiasoft
In Rainbow Skies you are able to name the main character, I named mine Leo. Leo wakes up after a night of heavy drinking, he is hungover and can’t remember anything from the night before. He is expected to complete an examination on this day, his final exam to become a Monster Tamer. His hometown of Boreville floats about the world, which is covered in toxic fumes and uninhabitable. Borevile is constantly under attack from monsters so this is an essential role. Leo’s arrogance gets the better of him, he destroys the enclosure the training monsters are held in. This not only sets them loose on the town but means the generator will need to be restarted.
Leo and his examiner Layne then set out to restore power to the monster compound, this results in a chain of events that set them on a path to something much greater. They fall from their home town and end up in the land below. They quickly discover it isn’t toxic at all, and meet a magician named Ashly. A miscast spell from Ashly results in the three characters being bound together, and so they set out to find someone who can reverse this. This journey takes our heroes all over the world, traveling through a variety of diverse regions as they seeks answers and uncover a dark plot that will result in the world’s end.
The story takes some interesting twists and turns as you play. Some elements that won’t be spoiled here will take you complete by surprise but also make perfect sense after you uncover them. The real stars are the characters and dialogue. Rainbow Skies is literally bursting with charm. Every character is likable in their own quirky way and they’re all totally distinguishable. This goes for the main character and his over the top bravado to the rock n roll bard to the evil eyes assassins, each different from the last.
The gameplay is the real meat of the package. Trust me when I say that, the depth on show here is astounding. Battles are turn based but on a grid, this gives you some agency as you can move characters around just as enemies can move around. It’s tactical but not slow, battles flow very well and rarely feel stagnant. After battles you earn XP and level up, this earns you Skill Stones. You can also earn these randomly in battle. These stones are spent to strengthen certain attributes and as you level you unlock more upgrades, such as an extra action in battle. It’s a brilliant system that really rewards you for battling as often as you can. Add in the customizable equipment that enhances skills and there is a ton going on here.
Battles are triggered when you bump into an enemy in the overworld. You can also encounter them randomly but you have the choice whether or not to trigger these. The overworld enemies often block the path vital to story progression or are targets of a side quest. You can see both the level of the enemy and how many enemies there are, this allows you to properly prepare. Every area has a healer, for a small amount of coins you can revive characters and restore HP + MP. It’s a good system that saves you from wasting all your money on healing items.
The actual battles are full of depth. There is a lot of enemy variety here that constantly keeps the game fresh. Even enemies who are simple reskins of earlier creatures have totally different skill moves and attributes to change up fights. This depth is added to with your own skill system. Each character can learn a variety of skills; from passive to healing to all out offensive, that make battles much more interesting than simple attack and defend. These include status effects, freeze the enemy so they miss a turn or bound them so they cannot roam around the battlefield. As you unlock more skills, like the combo abilities, the depth of the battles only growths.
The game is difficult. You will be expected to grind to keep your levels and skills up to the standard of the enemies in each area, otherwise battles will become slogs that require immense healing and stamina to see out. The difficulty system in place in the game is incredibly unique and interesting. The game has multiple tiers of difficulty, or Battle Ranks, which you can change as you play. Win a certain amount of battles on one difficulty and you can upgrade. Higher Battle Ranks not only give you better rewards but unlock optional areas. You can lower the Rank at any time from the menu.
There is a lot going on here, fortunately the menus are simple and clean allowing you to access all the information and statistics with ease. There’s also the Book section which gives you quest updates as well as showing you progression and some interesting facts, like the highest damage you’ve done in one hit. The next intriguing mechanic are monsters. After defeating a foe in battle there’s a chance they’ll drop an egg. You can grow a monster of your own that can be added to your party from this egg. This brings a lot of diversity to the game. These monsters can be trained by a Tamer or leveled up in your party. You can also use Skill Stones to enhance their abilities.
There is so much going on in Rainbow Skies that it’s impossible to get into here. You can level up skills, train with the tamer, fast travel points allow you to get round the massive world with ease, boats and other vehicles allow you to explore the world, fishing mini games, treasure hunting, dungeons everywhere waiting to be looted and boss monsters waiting to be fought. It really is an incredibly in depth title.
Graphics and Sound
Despite there being concessions made to get the title cross play across PS3, PS4 and Vita, Rainbows Skies is a pretty game. Everything is clean, edges are defined and characters are totally distinguishable. A lot of detail has went into monster’s character models, they look excellent and sharp. The environments are also beautiful. Water ripples and lava burns, from the desert area to the skies they all look unique and vibrant. The world feels lived in and characters talk as if they exist. The graphical design is a big part of this. It’s a masterclass in the elegance of simplicity.
Sound is another big victory for Sidequest Studios. Overworld music is relaxing and charming, it never annoys you while you explore but actively encourages you to roam the world. Battle music is even better. Reminiscent of the original Pokemon battle theme, mixed with the more epic chords of Kingdom Hearts/Final Fantasy, the music is intense and thrilling. It really adds to the battles, making them feel faster and more engaging. Most dialogue in the game is text dialogue, which is a bit of a shame but considering that the game is also designed for Vita it was probably a necessary concession, if only in terms of file size.
If you long for the classic RPGs of the 80s/90s then Rainbow Skies is the game for you. With a 50 hour long story and another 150 hours of content you’ll be sucked in for a long long time. The cross save with Vita means you can take it on the go whenever you feel like it. There are a couple of issues here, the game is quite difficult at the lowest battle rank and medium settings and therefore like most old school RPGs you will have to grind. A lot. The text heavy dialogue can be frustrating in longer conversation, thankfully you have the option to suspend dialogue and come back later or skip it altogether. If you aren’t a fan of old school RPGs then Rainbow Skies won’t convert you. If you are or ever were a fan then this will be the perfect title for you. It really is a love letter to everything that made the genre so adored.