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Worth playing and enjoyable, yet higher potential is still here too.

  • boos405
  • 08/11/2018 04:04 PM
  • 364 views
I have not played the other Blue Sky games, so I can't keep those in mind when reviewing this. For that reason this is a review of just this game alone, and for an RPG Maker XP game I think overall it's quite good!

Story

Ok. There are great parts here and bad parts here so I'll start with what's good and slowly explain what's bad. Though, saying that, if I had to balance everything in this game together and then give a opinion on it, I'd say the game as a whole is worth playing, more good than bad. Basically I'm saying it's worth a high score even with the "bad" parts so anyone reading this, don't get discouraged from playing it by what I say here.

I do love what Starmage, the developer, did here with the story plot. It's a plot that evolves as the game progress. The plot at the first half of the game changes at the second half and then again at a little after the middle point.

It's still the same plot and story as from the beginning through out, but the objectives evolve and it gets deeper. I don't know if there is a exact term of this type of story, but I do love them and I think in RPG games about adventuring they work really well, and this sure works well for Starmage's Blue Skies 2.

At the same time though, naturally that type of plot means the story require a lot more attention and I think with the first half of the game it was brilliantly applied, but with the second half of the game it didn't get enough done to it, given it some flaws.

I'm going to go slightly off point now whie talking about a theme, but quickly explain how that fits into the point I'm trying to make here.

A main theme explored in Blue Skies 2 goes along the lines of looking at the beliefs "All people who use magic are inherently evil." vs "No it's not!". I know for some people this is a bit over cliche, but here I think, Starmage, in the first half of the game, really had this developed very very well and presented it quite well too. It was really really well played with and anyplayer will appreciate the way Starmage handled it. It's used as a central piece of the conflict and the reason the villains are the way they are and the main characters live where they live. Perfect way to use it.

The second half, however, while the theme is still there somewhat, it feels like it wasn't resolve properly and focus changed on a villain going insane and stopping that villain, and sadly as well as not being resolved as well as it could've been, the new themes with the villain did not work too well in my opinion. His motives stop feeling believable, but at least Starmage added a manipulation plot, which gives it a bit more credibility, but still. Yeah though, I really felt the villain for the second half of the plot could've been fleshed out more and the first theme could've been resolved better and/or extended into this second half of the game more.

The story elements do still catch your attention, but since that villain was the centre of conflicts through-out the game it really need to had been presented with that villain having more believable motives in the second half.

There are also a few subplots in the game, those range from good to ok. I wouldn't say any subplot is bad, some I really really liked, other were average but that's ok, not everything can reach perfection and so the fact they were all ranging from "ok" to "good" to "really good" is excellent really.

I also like the use of having creatures that are demons and then creatures that are "daemon", can't talk about this without giving away spoilers but there some nice creative ideas through-out the game.

You'll get side-quests during the second half and they count as the subplots I mentioned above too.

Even with the bad, there was good presentation done here with what was done. I felt Starmage knew what they were doing and where they were going with this game and each scene and all the ideas fitted the story perfectly, but the dialogue itself could have had improvements.

The story also offers some nice twists to it with party members that join the party just before the second half that I think anyone playing it that far in the game would like.

Characters

I really like the characters in this game! At the same time I felt there was potential to expand and explore them further than what the game offered for them, but it's still ok.

Dialogue I felt at times is good, at other times could've been written better. It varies at bit and switches between both those sides throughout the game.

Where it could've improved, the dialogue would at times seem repetitive by what the characters were saying. Other times it felt a little bland, but overall it was ok. If I were to rate the dialogue as a whole out of 5 I'd give it a 2.5 or 3. About average at times, a little above it at other moments.

The contrast between Lyrelle and Luna personalities is very well presented and done and handled in a very fun manner too. It add some comical moments to the game and I'd say these two characters and River, which are first three characters to the party, are the most developed and fun ones. With motives for there actions and nicely played out, to the point how they meet and how they join the party too!

The other characters do fit into the story and are ok but not as well-done as those three. I liked Hanni abilities and saw that provided a good use for the party, at the same time I wish all these characters felt the same depth as the first three during the first quarter of the game.

There is also one character that was optional, and it was a nice surprise for that character to be the optional one.

There are also some odd points about the character interaction that I have. Odd meaning I'm not sure what my reaction to it should be, it's not positive or negative really just odd. I won't elaborate on many of these here, but as an example of an odd point, I couldn't understand why Lyrelle kept saying hihihi, but I accepted it. It did make me laugh, but not in a bad way. So that is good I guess? Haha.

I would say Cesar is somewhat a villain that does develop in this game though, and it's done well. I'd love to expand this but it'd give certain spoilers so anyone who plays this will know what I mean.

Gameplay

For an RPG Maker XP game with it's limitations on mechanics, the battles are actually a lot of fun. Starmage did a good job balancing them.

For those who don't know, mechanics in XP are more limited than VX Ace and MV, so considering that in mind, I think Starmage also played it out to it's full potential with the skills they decided to give the characters.

Enemy type elements and magical elements are in this game, which effect enemies in different ways. There is a nice manual about it at the beginning of the game that I recommend ALL players read.

It's easy enough to understand while still adding challenging and strategy to the game. I have however heard that if you save at certain points and aren't at a certain level you can be blocked off from progressing further. This can happen when the party first splits up and then later near the end of the game. So I would save in multiply save slots at all times.

There are quite a nice load of hidden goodies in the game too, all worth discovering.

It's easy to navigate through the maps. One reviewer said they kept feeling blocked off by objects they didn't expect to be "non-walkable". But I didn't experience that problem myself at all, so maybe the game updated since or I just didn't move on those places.

I think most people who like combat and battles and don't mind the XP limitations will enjoy them here. The pacing is good, and while the challenge does increase later in the game it's all beatable.

Dungeons are designed well too. There are treasure chests worth opening in them, and yes some do effect equipment too. Personally I felt it could've still done with more the way the paths were designed, but they are there.

The paths are also wide enough to travel on without feeling blocked in by anything. With that said, not really for on-screen encounters which is what Starmage did here.

I do congratulate Starmage for trying on-screen encounters, I like that feature, but they are very difficult to avoidable during my experience of the game. This is because the maps were not wide enough for them.

Mapping & Graphics

What I really loved was the custom sprites for the battlers in the game. Starmage is very good with giving them there own animation and making it look visually appealing. I think anyone who plays this would like them too.

Excellent use of XP mapping here. Visually it's all appealing. There are some custom graphic tiles outside the RTP as well.

The forests right at the start of the game stood out and looked gorgeous to me. There is also a good use of fog effects throughout the game.

The interior maps for castles and other building are good, but I felt they could be improved upon. This is not a complaint however, they're good as they are.

My only real complaint on the graphics are certain facesets looked odd to me. I am thinking in particular the clash between a certain village chief and everyone else in that said village and then later when the new villains are introduce they look very odd to me.

Still I understand that XP doesn't have facesets by default, so I'm very glad Starmage decided to add them and I know the custom resource they used are limited, but if it were possible I would definitely recommend changing the facesets I've mentioned here.

Audio/Music

Music fits the atmosphere for the maps. It's mostly custom music but saying that I also don't know XP's music well enough to spot when it's always RTP and custom. Starmage made good use of all the music here I think, I really enjoyed the sounds as well as the music throughout the game. Boss fights though had some amazing background music to them, and regular battles were really fun too.

Starmage also used character sound effects on the characters. It took me a while to get used to, but I agree it enchanted the experience for the better after I did.

Originality

Yes, this game does score a lot of points here. The game has a whole has this simple feel to it, and it's really really nice to have that here. It's impressive Starmage was able to keep that feel to the game while still adding in twists and evolving the plot.

Also, I'd say the skills are original. They're still skills you'll see in many RPG Maker games but they're used well here for an XP game. Most XP games I've played don't use the skills to there full potential while Starmage has definitely tried that here.

Conclusion

Blue Skies is a good game, it's worth playing if you like RPGs with cliches used well, or ones where a plot evolves over time. Also if you enjoy character interaction, it's in there and is good. From a story stand-point, I think most players will enjoy the first half more than the second, but gameplay is still very good in the second half and only you will know by that stage if this is the type of game you think is worth completing.

I expect people to have different tastes and opinions here, but yes I would give this game a try if I were you and see how far you decide to go with it.

Now rating this game is hard, I'm going to give it a high score because with your own imagination you can look past the dialogue issues and enjoy it further like I did. At the same time, potential for the game to have been something greater is there, and will always be there with Blue Skies 2. Worth playing, definitely worth trying and very well done to Starmage for being able to make and complete a game that had a very nice plot outline and scene structure to it, and pros too for using the skills to their potential.

Lastly I'll list of things I think could've been improved.

1. Summarize/end the main theme for the first half of the story or expand it better into the second half.
2. Give the main villain for the second half of the story better motives.
3. Dialogue could be written better at a lot of points.
4. Add more depth, character relationships and conflicts with the other party members that seem believable after Lyrelle, Luna and River
5. Change certain facesets mentioned above.
6. Not sure how to summarize this one. Even if all of this was changed, there is a feeling in the game it has potential to be something bigger. Better than the end result was.
7. Change dungeon mapping to be wider, so on-screen encounters, while a good feature, can be more avoidable.

Hope anyone who reads this has found it helpful and enjoyed the review. Hope you also give the game a try.

Lastly, I also recommend this game to anyone who likes light-hearted games, as overall even with certain idea considered to be darker, I'd say it's light-hearted with a simplistic feel and that's part of the game's charm and fun.

Posts

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Hello boos405!! ^_^ Wow!!! Thank you so so much for this wonderfully detailed review!! ^_^ I am really happy to know that you enjoyed most parts of the game despite its' obvious flaws! And I'm very glad that many of you guys (reviewers) have helped opened my eyes to what I can improve in my future RPG making journey! ^_^ :) I also really appreciate you listing what needs to be improved! They are great pointers for me to follow in the current game that I am developing! ^_^ :)

I also understand how you feel about the 2nd half of the game, and I myself which I could've done better with it. :) But it's an important lesson learned, so I'm thankful nonetheless. ^_^ The same goes with the underdeveloped characters. xDD :)

Thank you so much once again boos405, I really appreciate you enjoying the game and you giving your recommendation to play it! ^_^ It means a lot!! :D
Hey Starmage!

If this review helps you out then I'm glad it does!

Sorry if I sounded too critical, but I felt I had to somehow explain certain parts of the game that in my opinion could've been better. I didn't want to sound too critical at the same time though.

You definitely did have a lot of good ideas with Blue Skies 2, and I gave it a high score of 4 stars as I did enjoy it a lot, and I really really like the first half of the game the most. It was just certain parts could've been elaborated and expanded upon better, that's the best way to summarize it.

I can say from what you revealed about Rave Heart, your writing has not only improved but has been amazing in that game so far! So congratulations there! :)

Anyway, best of luck with all your future games. Any pointers that can help you is great.
Oh dear! I didn't even think you were being too critical, boos405! ^_^ All I read was you being very helpful and supportive of my game developing abilities! I truly appreciate that! ^_^ :D

With that said, I still cannot express how happy I am to know that you enjoyed it enough to give your 4 stars score. ^_^ :) Still, your pointers are indeed very helpful for consideration in the development of Rave Heart. ^_^ I'm very glad you liked the writings of that game and hopefully, I'll be able to follow many of your tips here for its' development. ^_^ :)

Thanks so much once again, boos405! ^_^ Best of luck to you as well!! :D
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