I’m still playing Skies of Arcadia.
Even when Super Mario Galaxy (which is excellent by the way) ate into my time, Skies was in the back of my mind.
When my old addiction to the Three Kingdoms games kicked back in, Skies was still lurking about somewhere.
Even after two LAN parties, I still had an occasional urge to play it.
I’m now about 25 hours in. I can’t say other games haven’t done this (Persona 3 and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue being the other two in recent memory), but Skies of Arcadia ranks up there among the highest current-gen games I’ve played.
And yet, I’m not sure why. The battle system is sort of neat, but it’s all been done before, more or less. It’s not particularly interesting. The music is okay, but lurks around the level of “ambient”; instead of evoking emotions, it just emphasizes what you’re supposed to be feeling. Two of the characters, at least, have shown very little depth. Two more have been entertaining, but somewhat cliched. The final two are sort of fleshed out so far. It’s nothing on the level of the Personas, but it’s better than some RPGs.
I think it’s the world (see previous posts) and the situations that have kept me into the game. I’ve reached the point where there’s a lot of exploration. Even to find where you’re supposed to be going, which doesn’t often happen in games. Even WA5, in which wandering around on the world map was vaguely pleasurable at times, you didn’t get the vague directions of “Oh, it’s rumored to be on the other side of this giant whirling vortex nobody’s been past. Good luck!”. I actually felt somewhat like a seasoned explorer after finding my way through said giant whirling vortex, to say nothing of how I felt once I actually found the place on the other side.
Not much else to say, really, other than I recommend that everyone who reads this try this game sometime. It may not be for you. But I’m not big on exploration normally (for example, the “exploring” systems in WA3 and F really just frustrated me), but Skies feels absolutely great.
I have also rediscovered my love of Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns. Just about once a year (since I picked it up for $10) I play through the campaign. It’s another game with a world that really does feel real (if not realistic); it’s got a good deal of history that ties into the campaign, as well as some pretty good voicing and some cool situations. If Zelazny’s Amber series were made into a game, I would love it to feel like Kohan.
Not the sequel, though. Please, not like the sequel.