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False Skies (demo review) 
 PostSun Dec 30, 2018 10:50 pm
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Pretty.
This is a review of False Skies.

False Skies is a game demo released in 2018 by Feenick (Festivus, Labyrinthilium, Winged Realm, Witch series).

The intro animation about the disappearance and reappearance of the stars is very pretty, but I’m not sure how it is linked thematically to the game itself (which doesn’t mention stars at all to the best of my recollection). The title screen is very simple, tasteful, and easy to look at, as is the UI in general.

As the game starts, a character named Mary prompts the player to generate a character via a menu that allows selection of class, gender, variant graphics, and color palette. This character is a new recruit into an organization called SRDG. Mary has put the player in charge of assembling a team of other recruits in the town of Mappore to attend an initiation class in the nearby town of Accoruna. To finish the initiation, the party must go into a cave and retrieve some sort of special stone. Oddly I found the stone accidentally while prodding around the dungeon – I didn’t even realize I’d happened upon it when I pushed the Enter key and took it. Back in Mappore, someone has been interfering with the communication systems. It is up to the player to investigate in the town of Sonne. Fie, the dramatic leader of Sonne, sends the team on a mission to recover a stolen item called the Clarity Rod. Upon returning to Sonne, the party is immediately dispatched again to check on a damaged radio tower (where they meet the culprit, Liss). After reporting back to Fie, Mary interrupts and announces the demo is over.

(Note: My final play time was 3 hours 40 minutes, but this is not reliable as I was interrupted several times. I'd estimate it took between 1-1.5 hrs of actual play time. I was at level 5.)

A lot about False Skies is vague, which may be the consequence of it being unfinished. It wasn’t clear to me who or what the characters are, what SRDG stands for, when or where the story takes place, or what world the characters exist within. Some item names are confusing as well (what is a Spl.Stn?). Before I knew where I was supposed to be going, I spent a few minutes wandering around exploring areas that felt somewhat empty and unfinished. The basic foundation is there, but there was very little to interact with yet. Towns had shops, inns, and a few generic NPCs, but also a lot of empty buildings or underutilized space. All the bookshelves and containers in the opening area are empty, so I was surprised later to actually find a bookshelf (off the critical path) with reference materials on it. I was very glad this information on weapons, armor, shields, attacks, skills was available; it might be easy for some players to overlook though.

The vagueness extends somewhat to the battle system. I never quite grasped what the Specials were for, or how different attacks were supposed to be employed strategically. I successfully won all random encounters by holding the Enter key, only employing Skills and Specials during the final boss fight to heal and boost damage output. As a result, battle was neither particularly frustrating nor engaging. I imagine this will all be fleshed out and balanced in future versions.

As expected from Feenick, the graphics look really pleasing and the color palette is excellent. The menus all look consistent and tasteful, and might have raised the bar for UI in OHR games. I especially like being able to pick character classes, variant graphics and colors – this is the kind of fiddley-ness I crave in RPGs. False Skies has no music yet, but the existing sound effects are adequate. I think this demo has the potential to be fleshed out into a solid game with a lot of cool features, but as of now it still seems a bit like a sketch for a more detailed experience to come. False Skies is a beautiful looking demo with cool features that just needs a little fleshing out.
...spake The Lord Thy God.
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