I just finished the Sky trilogy and I have mixed feelings.
I played CS1 and CS2 earlier this summer and I absolutely loved these games. I loved the characters, the world, the gameplay, the soundtrack, the atmosphere and the story. It's been a while since I was so invested in a JRPG. I still have some issues with them of course, like any game. Some things I wished were done a bit differently, some characters who felt a bit left out, the balance of the game which is way to easy to break etc. But overall, I had a blast and cried a bit.
So, to get the best experience possible out of CS3 and CS4, I followed the advice of the community and went back to play the Sky games. People told me CS1/2 were the weakest games and I heard a lot of praises regarding the Sky games, SC in particular, so I had high expectations.
However I'm sorry to say, they didn't meet them.
Now before I get into why, I'm not making this post to trash the games or anything. I know they are well loved here, and I'm totally fine with it because they are good games. They just didn't resonate with me all that much compared to most people here, and that's why I wanted to share my thoughts.
Also, SPOILERS for all games up to CS2 (except Crossbell).
First Chapter: Let me say first that I don't mind a slow burn. I read quite a bit of visual novels for example, and I had a lot of fun with the 20 hours long common route of Grisaia, and loved stuff like Muv Luv or Umineko without ever getting bored. FC however had a hard time keeping me interested. There were times were I was "Oh this is really cool" like the whole academy section with the play, but then my interest would falter a bit later. There are different reasons as to why.
First of all, I felt the plot wasn't all that engaging, because for most of the game you don't really know what the hell is going on, so you end up doing mostly mundane things. In CS1, despite a similar pacing and structure, I could get a grasp of the tension between the Nobles and the Reformists pretty early, so I was able to see the buildup and how the tension rose with each chapter. With FC, it wasn't really the case since I was mostly running around with a MacGuffin fighting unkown people for most of the game, so I didn't have a grasp on what the stakes were really about until the final chapter. I also think Liberl wasn't as interesting as Erebonia. Even when it comes to the locations, most of them felt a bit generic like Bose or Rolent. Even Zeiss, for a high tech town, was mostly a big factory with an escalator. Everthing else felt like Rolent, while Roer felt a lot like an industrial city. Ruan was by far my favorite though.
I also have a problem with how the main cast is handled. Don't get me wrong, I think the characters are great for the most part. I liked them all and they all feel unique, that's not the issue. The problem is that most party members get introduced in a chapter, are playable for that specific chapter then leave and won't be available until the final dungeon. So it made it hard to get attached to these characters since they just come and go and aren't there for long enough. When I was getting invested into one of them, they would leave shortly after. By the end of FC, the only characters I developed any attachement towards were Estelle & Joshua, because they were the characters I followed the entire game (and I only just "liked" them), as well as Kloe because she was the only one who got a character arc. The other characters didn't get any development, I didn't know much about them when I finished FC.
Meanwhile in CS1, you follow the same cast for entire game. Since it's bigger, the game shuffles the characters around but you still get to play most of them for 3 chapters in total as well as the finale. And you still get to talk to them at school or play with them in the old schoolhouse. So by the end of CS1, I was really invested in the whole cast, because I felt like I spent the game with them. From what I heard, people complained that the cast in CS1 is too big and so a lot of characters got left out. It's true that some characters didn't get a lot (I wish they gave more to Gaius for example, I like him but he doesn't get much), but at least CS1 gives you some insight on almost everyone as well as different character arcs for Jusis, Machias, Alisa, Laura, Fie etc. Meanwhile FC despite its smaller cast only gives something to Kloe and Joshua. If I didn't know Olivier from CS, then I would have taken him for the comic relief of the game. You know something's up because of his conversation with Schera, but that's it. One thing I loved though was the chemistry between them. The dialogues between the main cast were by far the most enjoyable aspect of the game.
The music was fine, not nearly as good as CS1/2 or some Ys games, but it's good. Silver Will is amazing ofc.
Finally, the gameplay is SLOOWWWW. Everything takes forever, it feels like FFIX. I'm glad the turbo exists. I can't fault it for being simpler, since it was the first game, but it definitely wasn't as enjoyable. One thing that made me mad more than once though, is when characters from the back get targetted by a mob that wasn't visible at the time, and then triggers an ambush. I liked the whole mixing quartz to get arts though. But this system lacks options for physical characters.
The best thing about FC was definitely its laid back atmosphere and overall feeling of going on an adventure.
Second Chapter: This is the one people love the most, so I had high expectations, thinking FC was mostly buildup. I liked it more than FC, mostly because it's a good payoff and because it handles its cast better. I liked the prologue and Chapter 6 as well as the Final chapter were great.
My issues lie in the other chapters. Chapters 1 to 4 were a slog. Repeating the same subplot over and over made me almost drop the game. The one thing that kept me going was the characters interractions, because they were a lot of fun, and some occasional great moments like Estelle's dream. But everytime I started a chapter, I knew what it would be about and what would happen for the most part. Chapter 5 suffered from that as well, but it had better execution and Agate's backstory to make up for it. Thankfully chapter 6 was great, but then chapter 7 dragged the game down once again. 4 dungeons in a row, and all that for nothing because Ouroboros achieved what they wanted to do anyway. These bossfights could have been saved for the finale and the chapter cut entirely, leaving only a cutscene to show the towers activation. Chapter 8 was tedious, but also a cool concept and it has a great atmosphere with very cool sidequests. Plus, it has that awesome scene with Olivier, so I'll overlook how tedious it was. Final chapter was great for the most part. My only complaint would be how it ends abruptly, there's no epilogue or anything.
As for the plot, let's just say I wasn't really invested. What I liked the most was probably Joshua's story and his relationship with Loewe. His romance with Estelle however... It's well written, but I don't like it. I would have liked it way more if they stayed on a siblings relationship, with Estelle trying to get her brother back, instead of her lover. Because for me it's still akin to incest, so it's a turnoff. And if I didn't like Elise's weird relationship with Rean, I'm not going to like Estelle and Joshua falling in love either. I just can't get behind this sort of thing. Then there's the whole plot about Ouroboros and the Auréole, which is your run of the mill JRPG plotline I've played a thousand times. It's not bad, but that's not what I loved about Cold Steel. What made me love Cold Steel is the politics, the conflict between different factions and all the different layers involved, and how Class VII fits into all of this. Basically, you could say I loved the "Gundam" aspect of the plot of Cold Steel (and I'm not even talking about the mechs here), something I didn't find in SC.
I also think FC's plot doesn't payoff very well in SC, because the coup wasn't that relevant all things considered, while CS1's buildup leads directly to CS2's situation. To sum it all up, I wasn't really invested in the stakes of SC compared to the stakes of CS.
That leads me to the antagonists. I loved CS2's cast of antagonists. Crow, Vita, Rufus, Duvalie, McBurn, Scarlet, I loved these characters. However, I though that Ouroboros in SC was pretty lame. Even Renne was insufferable in SC (and only in SC, I liked her in 3rd), with Weissman being a huge letdown. I didn't like Duke Cayenne that much, but I don't think we're supposed to take him seriously. Weissman on the other hand falls completely flat. Thankfully, Loewe is amazing.
Continuing on the characters, while I think the main cast is great, lovable and on par with CS's with even better chemistry, I felt the supporting cast in general was weaker. Of course there are supporting characters I enjoyed like Cassius, Nial, Richard or Anelace, but compared to Sara (my favorite character in the series), Claire, Sharon, Neithardt, Victor, Rufus, Towa, Vita etc, I liked CS's supporting cast a lot more.
The music was better, Looking up at the Sky and Whereabouts of bonds especially stood out to me, along with Silver Will SAV. My thoughts on the gameplay remain the same.
The 3rd: Now this one though, I really liked it. It kinda saved the trilogy for me. Kevin is an amazing MC, probably my favorite of the 3 I've seen so far. And don't get me started on Ries. I love Kloe and Schera, but Ries is by far my favorite girl in the trilogy. Their story really hit me, and chapter 7 has to be one of my favorite chapters in the series. If I wasn't on board with Estelle and Joshua's romance, I loved this one. While the plot is more focused on them and less on something global with high stakes, I think it's a great personal story.
The doors were also a great idea to develop characters that didn't get enough and flesh out the world. As I said before, this game made me like Renne and that's not something I expected. The ending was also very emotional, I'm a sucker for stuff like this.
The dungeon crawling didn't bother me, if anything this game has the best pacing overall because of this. And I loved being able to play with the party I want and the ability to choose between all these characters. The soundtrack was awesome as well.
So overall, my issues mostly lie with FC and SC. But now I don't know what to think about Crossbell. I was very hyped for these games before starting the Sky trilogy, especially from what I've seen in CS, but now I'm not so sure. Is Crossbell more like Sky or CS ? Or maybe its own thing entirely ? I really wanted to love these games, at least I loved one of them. But I can't help to be disappointed. Of course I'll end up playing Zero and Azure, but I think I'll lower my expectations this time.
Thank you for reading if you read all that stuff, especially if you're a Sky fan I'm sorry .
submitted by Siliux