2/22/14 Edit: Game cleared/fully experienced/explored. Took about 7 hrs if you're diligent about it, maybe a little faster if you're good at this genre.
This game is pretty legit. I'll be brief and quickly summarize my first impressions from playing this game.
Entralling Story - Having finished my first playthrough I can safely say that Skyborn offers an entertaining tale with various twists and turns that'll keep the player on their toes. I found the closure at the end to be very satisfying as well (not really a spoiler, I'm primarily trying to convey that the end wasn't half ♥♥♥♥♥).
Avoidable combat - Unlike most RPGs where you run around and trigger random events that can't be seen, Skyborn has a system where players are able to physically see monsters on the screen. This allows a player to circumvent an unwanted encounter while providing the option of easy EXP as well if they find themselves underleveled. Edit: I'll say this now - avoidable mobs are all OPTIONAL. Under no circumstances was I ever pressed to level/grind on a normal clear. I'm currently working on a hard clear to see if this is the same case. Don't let this discourage you though, boss fights are still pretty difficult depending on your composition.
Battle Arena - Later on in the game there's an arena that offers a substantial challenge if you find the fights to be too easy. It poses a significant challenge compared to typical encounters.
Crafting system - I haven't tried it too thoroughly yet, however there is a system in place for harvesting minerals etc and for creating weapons and armor. It hasn't been too impactful in my playthrough since I've been finding gear frequently enough as is, but it's a nice side touch to have.
Consistency/Persistent Story - The game feels very consistent throughout, and when I say that I mean so with regards to the story alawys being present. Unlike other RPGs where you get a 30 second snippet of dialog followed by 2 hours of grinding mobs through a tower in order to reach an objective, Skyborn does a decent job of adding in short excerpts of character interaction to alleviate the grind. While progressing through dungeons characters will talk and continue to give the player story while dungeon crawling.
The Music - The music in this game is by far satisfying and enjoyable to listen to. This of course is my own personal preference, however if something like this appeals to you then by all means consider this when making your decision as well.
Lack of Backtracking - There are a couple of areas where I realized some chests were left unlooted due to not understanding certain trigger mechanics until later in the game. From what I can tell, I'm unable to revisit these places for the time being since map movement is very story driven. This is important because certain items come from said chests... and one of the initial lines implies that you want to collect all of a particular set for extraordinary rewards. Edit: At some point in the game it does allow for freedom of movement/control of your ship/destination - just don't expect it too soon.
Options/Settings - I found this panel to be very lacking. Not only do audio settings not save (I found myself having to lower game volume manually through the audio manager my OS provides) but there's very little customization available. You can change the color of the major panels, however keybindings cannot be changed. On top of that, the tutorial isn't very extensive, so figuring out what binds to what is a bit difficult at first. They do bring up the least obvious binding (X has uses apparently), but they fail to mention that other buttons such as spacebar and enter can function as an "a" button if you were to play a hand held.
Stat Values - This is the min/maxer speaking at the moment. With regards to stats in this game, their effects are very helterskelter as far as values go. I'm not talking specific number crunching for damage per turn etc but rather lack of clarity. It's not exactly clear what +1 agility will do as opposed to +1 strength which was a bit frustrating.
As for now, I'm a very satisfied customer considering the price I paid for this. I'd strongly recommend it to anyone that was a fan of the old FFs (1-2 etc) who have a strong desire for pretty driven plot. Overall, I'd give this game an 7.5/10 with everything above in mind. As far as buying goes, I'd be a bit hesitant in recommending full price for this game. With the current half off sale though, it's very much so a buy that gives you your bang for your buck.
Posted: February 21st, 2014