Game Title: Bonds of the Skies
Company: HitPoint, KEMCO
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 4 – 6 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 400 MB

When it comes to retro RPGs that come out to us from the publisher KEMCO, it’s interesting to see different developers come into the fray. Most of their games I’ve played were made by EXE Creates but more of the other company KEMCO-published games have been coming to consoles, giving another company’s take on Retro RPGs.

Chronus Arc was one of the games made by the company HitPoint, and today we’re going to talk about another of their games, brought to handhelds once before on the 3DS and once again on the Switch.

Here is my review for Bonds of the Skies for the NIntendo Switch!

Story

bond 2 - story

Long ago, there were 4 deities (known as Grimoas) that management all of the elements around the world. However, when the Fire Grimoa had the others divide their power up and have children, he waged war, trying to take out the others, resulting them in falling into a deep slumber around each village they protect.

Years later, a young man named Eil forms a partnership with one of these sleeping deities when his town is attacked. He is then tasked with journeying around the world and find other partners that can take down the Fire Grimoa and restore peace to the world.

The story of this game has the unfortunate cirumstance of feeling way too fast. Many situations advance too quickly, and a lot of the bigger confrontations feel like they happen way too quickly.

Gameplay

bond 3 - gameplay

Bonds of the Skies is a turn-based RPG set up in retro fashion. Like many others like it, you trek around an overworld, visit towns and dungeons, and fight monsters in turn-based combat.

Basic Progression is the same as other RPGs with you traveling around the world, pointed towards your next objective by the story. It is very much like many other RPGs of this style. This game is a bit different through its side quest and synthesis system, though. Every town has a statue in the middle of it that lets you use materials and recipes to craft accessory items as well as take on monster elimination side quests for monsters near that town.

As far as combat is concerned, a lot of the differences here are in how they are displayed, visually. Instead of a standard viewpoint of having an enemy party on the left side of the screen and players on the right, it is set in first-person like the old Phantasy Star games. You do have typical attacks, skills, and items, but it’s displayed differently, offering a bit of a different kind of feel to it because of that perspective.

bond 5 - skills

There’s also Skills and the Synchro Command. You have to equip skills to use in battle, so you don’t have access to everything all the time (think Final Fantasy IX’s AP system). There are a ton of skills, both in terms of commands and passive skills, so you have to go through whenever you get new skills and choose which ones are the best in terms of strategy in battle.

The Synchro Command is this game’s version of Limit Break/Ultimate Attack, etc. As you go through combat, you can fill up a gauge for the Grimoa helping you in battle. When it’s full, you can sync with them to gain access to high-end skills for a few turns. Unlike most systems like this, the gauge resets to 0 at the beginning of each battle so you can’t just charge it and go into a boss fight with your super skills.

bond 4 - combat

As far as difficulty goes, the game is relatively balanced, but does require a lot of grinding. The difficulty spikes quite a bit, especially with normal dungeon encounters. Because of this, you have to grind quite a lot near the Green Crystals that auto-heal you when you interact with them. This is pretty light early on, but gets pretty heavy later on in the game.

The problem here is the fact that everything comes together for an extremely short experience. The overall length of the game took me around 7 hours to reach the initial Ending and 8 hours for the True Ending. This is very short, but it’s worth noting that at least 2-3 of those hours for me were grinding, so we’re looking at maybe 4-5 hours of story for an RPG, which is extremely short and lacking for the genre.

Controls

This game isn’t hard to control. Like many other console KEMCO RPGs, there aren’t any touch or motion controls.

You can use the D-Pad or Left Analog Stick to move around. The ZL and ZR triggers are not used, but L is used for warping out of dungeons and R is an easy way to save your game. Then we have the face buttons. A confirms options and B cancels them. X pulls up the customization menu and Y doesn’t really do anything.

Pretty simple, right?

Presentation

bond 6 - presy

Graphically, the game doesn’t look bad. The game is definitely geared towards older RPGs. As such, there is a fair amount of pixelization with all the character models. Despite this, the models and graphics don’t look blurry like other games like this do, so it works.

Performance is very good. The game doesn’t have any frame drops and has never crashed on me.

Battery Life

As expected, this is another retro RPG with tons of Battery Life. Here is the Battery Range for Bonds of the Skies:

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 34 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 04 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 12 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 40 minutes

In conclusion, Bonds of the Skies is an interesting Retro RPG mostly due to its skill system and first-person perspective. On the downside, it has an incredibly fast pace to its story and outside of all the grinding you’re doing, the main quest is really only around 5 hours long. It’s enjoyable, but one of the shortest RPGs out there.

Final Score: 7.5/10