Skyborn is the story of Claret Spencer, the head mechanic at a repair shop owned by her brother, whose life is suddenly turned upside down when she becomes involved in a clash between human and half-breed rebels and the winged Skyborn who oppress them. Claret falls into this revolution while running away from the mechanic shop she once called home, which has just been sold to the rich and powerful Sullivan Chesterford. Did I mention that Claret’s hand in marriage was also part of the deal? Yeah, welcome to Skyborn.
I get what the creators of this game were trying to do: make a plucky, likeable female lead that people will want to root for. But oh, my god. There’s believable, there’s willing suspension of disbelief, and then there’s whatever the heck this was.
I’m supposed to click through roughly 10 minutes of conversation setting up this tomboy-like, spunky, I-can-take-care-of-myself lead character, and then watch as her brother sells their family company out from under her and reveals that he sold her hand in marriage to some rich dude, and totally go with it when she responds by stomping her foot and storms off to her room to wallow in sadness?
This is five minutes after she tried to take on a patrol of Skyborn with nothing but a pair of rivet guns (which aren’t weapons, by the way... not in anyone’s world), and she can’t even stand up to her brother? Not so much as a punch in the face? Nohting?? Oh, my bad. There’s the sulks.
So, of course, she runs away, leaving her half of the money from the sale of the shop behind so her brother can cover the cost of the ship she just stole (because he totally deserves her consideration after selling her off). At this point, you may be wondering why I’m spending so much time discussing the conversations and relationships in the game instead of gameplay.
There’s a good reason for that: most of this game is nothing but talking. It’s like one giant monolog, and you just click-click-click through it, with the occasional lame battle or jaunt through the city sewer to break up the monotony of a never ending monolog.
It should be known that I love Final Fantasy games, and not for the playing of them. I enjoy watching other people play so I can watch the cut scenes, and when I myself play it’s basically to get to those scenes. What I mean is, I enjoy a good bout of story development. I like knowing all about the characters. But an hour into this game I wanted to hurl my monitors across the room because I don’t care that much. And maybe it would be worth it if the battle gameplay was genius, or I enjoyed spending my time mostly lost and looking for the next area. But it’s not, and I don’t.
Skyborn is like some horrifying early Zelda/Final Fantasy love child, except someone took the time to remove every single good part. I knew I was in trouble when they kept referring to this guy’s cravat. Who even knows what those are anymore? And who cares?? I’m looking at you, cravat-wearing rich-guy stereo type.
And I guess that pretty much sums it up: Skyborn is one giant stereotype. Every single piece of it feels like it’s the bastard red-headed cousin of a really awesome game. Even the music, which is admittedly pretty nice, just feels like a remix of something that was once done better. The plotline is almost, aaaalmost interesting (who doesn’t like a good tale about rebels?) but the characters are all so flat and unappealing you really just can’t be bothered.
I suppose the character designs are cute enough, but when they start interacting with one another you get hit with the most generic anime characters I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen me some anime characters). I played this game for a while, but if push came to shove I don’t think I could reliably describe any of the characters beyond a superficial, “Er, there was a girl, I bet she was pretty short, I’m thinking blue or purple hair, and she had goggles for a headband. And I think there was a blond dude, I dunno. That’s all I got.”
It might have helped if the rebel leader, the Red Spectre, hadn’t reminded me so strongly of Mysterion from South Park. I don’t know why, their colors aren’t even the same, but I blame the squishy little bodies. And after that kind of connection, how can you take the guy seriously?
So I have no idea who Skyborn is targeting. People who like character development are going to chafe at all the stereotypes, one-dimensionality, and emotional constipation (Have I mentioned the abandonment issues hinted at in the selling scene? Apparently their parents walked out years before (a’la The Way by Fastball), and Claret can’t handle the thought of her brother leaving her. This game is one step away from landing an appearance on either Dr. Phil or Maury Povich.).
People who like playing adventure games for the battles aren’t going to be happy either, because I found the fights to be boring and heavy on the mindless click-click-clicking (which seems to be a running theme for this game). And it was also way too hard to activate the battles; I tromped all over the monsters and still couldn’t get them to activate. Just FIGHT ME already!
To summarize: skip it. Just, I don’t know, watch a movie or knit a hat or something. I understand, logically, that there must be people out there who love this game. Who really get a kick out of following Mysterion though the sewers and crafting armor at randomly (and conveniently) placed forges (why is there a forge in the sewer??). I just can’t fathom who.
It could be that the game gets better with time, but I suffered through more than an hour before throwing in the towel. Who has that kind of time to waste? As for this bio major, I’d rather spend my two measly weeks of freedom between summer and fall semesters learning how to shellac or taking up yoga. At least it’s time that won’t be wasted on Skyborn.