Rainbow Skies is very clearly an homage to the olden days of RPGs, but it’s also perhaps one of the most unique exercises in patience-trying that’s ever been released to the general public. There’s probably a target audience for the juvenile writing and characters, but it’s hard to say if they are the type of people who would be buying this game. Either way, Rainbow Skies is suffering from a severe lack of polish, and it shows from the first few seconds of the experience.
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At first glance, Rainbow Skies is a generic RPG with a slight strategic twist. Dig a little further, though, and it becomes apparent that that’s all there is. The immediate appeal of the title would seem to be the wide-open world in which it takes place but, honestly, that’s the most interesting part. For all the enemies, side-quests, mini-games, and secrets to discover, none of them are that interesting.
The combat system is probably the most interesting part of Rainbow Skies, and although it’s not especially complicated, it has some interesting ideas about what a potentially watered-down SRPG combat system would look like. Battles take place on an unobstructed isometric grid, where the main party squares off against large groups of enemies. Battles tend to be fairly short, but there isn’t really a lot of strategic depth to them. There’s very clear right and wrong choices to be made at each move, and that makes them fairly linear.
Party members Damion, Layne, and Ashly make up the standard combo of melee, ranged, and spellcaster, and they supplement their ranks with a large variety of tameable monsters. Again, though, gameplay is fairly linear for a SRPG, and battles generally don’t take much time… at first. Each new area is filled with increasingly powerful monsters, which while normal for the genre, isn’t executed quite right here. The difficulty spikes and dips in unusual places, giving the game a very inconsistent feel. One minute the party will be breezing through enemies, and the next moment be overpowered by an army of high-levelled foes.
Even then, there’s little joy to be had in the destination all these battles are taking the party. The storyline is nothing new, being built upon decades of exhausted JRPG tropes. Sadly, nostalgia isn’t enough to carry the plot, as the characters are extremely bland and honestly just aggravating to read. The main character is so genuinely unlikeable that it’s hard to root for him. Every character seems to be there entirely for comic relief, and that gets irritating extremely quickly.
The writing also has some very odd sentence structure issues and phrasing problems that really stand out. In fact, nearly every aspect of the writing feels like it seriously lacked a good QA pass before release. While it’s possible that this could be fixed down the line, it’s a glaring issue right now. Regardless, it’s hard to say whether or not the cleaned-up product would be any more worth reading.
It’s sort of worth mentioning the tutorial system, because it’s one of the most nonsensically annoying things ever devised. Every time the game sees fit to explain one of its mechanics, the cast sits around and discusses it in a small skit, generally with plenty of jabs and fourth wall-bending humour. It might have been funny the first time they did it, but these sections massively pad out the game and, especially early on, it really detracts from the experience.