Rainbow Skies (and its predecessor, Rainbow Moon) is one of those games that a certain portion gamers hold dear to their hearts. It’s not quite popular enough to be considered a big triple A title but the people who enjoy the series become very loyal fans. Not to mention SideQuest Studios is a very small team. Rainbow Skies does a lot of what people loved about the first game and then some. Which is both good and bad, depending on which way you look at it. To put it simply, if you liked Rainbow Moon, you will most likely enjoy Rainbow Skies. The sequel takes what made the first game a lot of fun and adds to it. In true sequel fashion Rainbow Skies takes a definite step forward for the series.
Falling From the Sky
Our adventure starts out, appropriately, in the sky. Arca is a small flying city and gives us our first glimpse of the colorful world of Rainbow Skies. Damion is a new upcoming monster tamer who is about to take his final test. It becomes obvious straight away that the game doesn’t stray far from fantasy game tropes. Especially concerning characters.
Damion is the muscle of our crew and makes up for that with an astounding lack of mental capacity. Luckily, his friend/enemy, Layne, is around to try to keep the blockhead in line. With his quick wit and constant exasperation for putting up with Damion. Layne is the guy trying to use logic and has to explain things to Damion on a regular basis (while also teaching you how to play the game).
After a few unsurprising mishaps, they both end up tumbling down out of the flying city to the land below and run into the third and final character of our party. Ashly is a young magician that while practicing magic, ends up bonding the three characters together with a misplaced spell as they fall down. You’ll spend the majority of the game trying to find a way to break the spell between them. Cue zany adventures across the world.
As I mentioned these characters are not going to blow you away. They all follow some sort of trope that has been used for a long time. Damion is dimwitted but strong, Layne is the snarky ranger, and Ashly is the mage and has the hots for Damion for whatever reason. There isn’t anything that’s going to blow you away. Although, it should be mentioned that I’m pretty sure this was done on purpose. Part of the humor in this game is that it breaks the fourth wall regularly and makes fun of itself constantly. That humor is throughout the game.
The game is still entertaining though and some of the NPCs make up for the lack of depth in our heroes. This does make the game a bit shallow but it did not ruin the experience for me. Rainbow Skies is still a lot of fun to play, just don’t expect a deep and engaging story.
I’m just going to go ahead and say it now; You will probably find yourself doing a lot of grinding in this game. And that’s something you’ll end up having to do whether you want to or not. Side quests and even random battles are technically optional. You don’t have to do either of those if you don’t want to, but it becomes apparent very quickly that you will have to do a lot of those to make it far into the game. At least, without a struggle. Which means, you’ll end up doing a bit of grinding to get your characters where they need to be.
On top of that, you can upgrade the difficulty of enemies at various places in the world. This does help level up a bit faster and grants you access to better items. But, again, this brings the grind into play. Especially later in the game.
Whether this is good or bad is dependent on each person. I found the grind to be a bit of a drag at times although I still think the game is fun. It’s a bit similar to grinding on older SNES and PSONE rpgs. Sometimes you just have to do it. Either way, that grind is a definitely there.
Just like the first game, the battles in Rainbow Skies are of the turn-based strategy variety. You have plenty of options on how you want to fight as well, although you probably won’t use all of them. This isn’t a deep fighting system. Typically the same strategies work for most of the enemies throughout the game and it’s not too difficult to figure it all out. Which, unfortunately,makes the aforementioned grinding even more grindy. But, on the flip side, battles are usually fairly short.
Of course, each character comes with their own distinctive suite of abilities (which you can level up as well). Damion has the damage attacks and abilities that allow him to attack multiple foes. Layne shoots from afar. And Ashly has an arsenal of elemental attacks.
This is where I should mention that the fighting system kind of falters here. More often than not, you’ll end up using some of the earlier abilities throughout the game and just leveling them up. Abilities you obtain later on are a little more challenging to use because of attack layouts. And since you have spent all that time leveling up earlier abilities it sometimes makes new ones almost pointless. Of course, that can be different if you decide to grind and level up those new abilities.
The Depth is in The Systems
While the character and story might be a bit lacking, Rainbow Skies makes up for that with a leveling system that is surprisingly deep. You can upgrade just about every aspect of your character including gear, traits, and skills. This gives the game a ton of options to level and customize your characters with. There are several different sources used for these and most of them are found pretty readily by exploring the world and in combat.
This was definitely one of the highlights of the game and gives you a lot of opportunity to enhance and customize your characters to your own liking. This can lead to a lot of grinding, as I mentioned, but in this particular case, it’s worth the effort.
One thing you may notice is that the visuals may seem a bit dated for being a current gen game. This isn’t a bad thing by any means. There is a reason for this design. The developers wanted to be able to release the game on PS4, PS3, and Vita simultaneously and have them run well on all ports. I spent most of my playtime on the Vita but I can say it works quite well on all three systems. The game is still very charming visually anyhow. In a way this works in the game’s favor.
The series does have a very distinctive style. It’s right on the edge of being cartoony but makes for a very colorful and interesting world. Rainbow Moon’s looks were distinct in that way and Rainbow Skies follows the same pattern. The fact that this style allows them to release on the entire PlayStation family is an added bonus.
The music is fun as well. A lot of it is whimsical and bouncy and never gets too serious. A perfect fit for the game. Altogether sound and graphic style create a unique experience that is very much a Rainbow Skies aesthetic.
Rainbow Skies is very much a mixed bag. A delightful mixed bag but a mixed bag nonetheless. It falls short on some things but overall is still a pretty good game. Character customization and the leveling system are both pretty deep and satisfying. The game can be quite the grind fest but I was mostly okay with that. The story and characters in Rainbow Skies are not something that will wow you, but you can just make fun of them like the game does. I guess what I’m trying to say is, as a game, Rainbow Skies is in right in the middle of the “good” department. But if you liked Rainbow Moon then just do yourself a favor and pick this one up. It’s more of the same (in a very good way) with plenty of extra goodies.