Toronto, Canada. The year is 2023, and crime is running rampant. Because of this, private law enforcement agency GTAL is born. The public have mixed feelings about it - as GTAL operatives wear plain clothes rather than uniforms, they could be absolutely anyone - but on the whole they are seen as a positive force against the criminal element. We follow the story of two such officers - the no-nonsense Melissa and her hothead partner, Tyler - as they uncover a sinister plot. What is Project Fountain? What is the Skylight Symbiote? Will they live to find out?
Skylight is a somewhat unusual style RPG in a similar vein to the Final Fantasy series. You control a party of characters as they patrol the city or undertake various missions, and routinely get into combat with groups of enemies. Successful management of your party's weapons, ammunition and development is crucial to surviving these encounters. You are able to equip a number of different weapons and other items, and can experiment with these to find your ideal mix.
Control is by keyboard, which took a little getting used to - it took me a while to get my right hand away from the mouse! The cursor keys are for movement and selection, and choices are confirmed with the space bar. You can back out of menus with Escape, which also brings up the game menu (though you'll need to complete the first part of the game before the menu system becomes available). In this menu you are able to visit the shop, the storage area, look up information and save the game. Rather neatly, you can only do this in "green light" areas, which also restore your lost HP. "Red light" areas generally feature enemies, so it is vital to prepare for battle before you enter them.
Rather than levelling up in the traditional sense, Skylight includes a Competency system. You gain competency through successful combat in the same manner that regular RPGs gain experience, and these competency points can be spent on upgrades to your characters' abilities. The abilities you select are entirely up to you and are character-specific, but include such things as enhancing basic stats and gaining/developing new abilities. Bonus competency points are earned for such things as completing a battle with minimal damage or searching at least five times.
In terms of graphics and sounds, Skylight is clearly on a very tight budget! The graphics are very basic, with cartoon characters, limited animation and remarkably plain settings. Houses seem filled with largely empty rooms, with perhaps just a solitary sofa and TV in one corner. It's all a bit bleak - I'd have liked a bit more background. On the other hand, the very simple style makes the gameplay much more accessible. Sound effects are also fairly simple, and music is decidedly retro - it brings to mind those 8-bit games from my younger days. Ahh! Nostalgia!
The simple style of Skylight makes it very playable. There aren't that many weapons to choose from - indeed, only three to begin with, though more are unlocked as the game story progresses - and each has its own style of play. Pistols are bog standard; shotguns can affect several enemies at once and are more powerful at closer range; rifles are more effective at greater distance. You can also ditch the guns entirely and go for unarmed combat - these form combos that do more damage with each consecutive hit. And as your fighters gain combat experience, they can launch powerful Synergy attacks that do massive damage. Very useful!
There's plenty of playtime in Skylight. I've obviously not had opportunity within my review deadline to play through to the end but there's plenty of storyline there. Side missions are fairly minimal and I would have liked more of them - I completed two outstanding warrants in the opening section, for instance, which netted me $500 apiece - but there is always the option to seek out more bad guys and harvest cash and experience. Perhaps side quests are more frequent later in the game - I hope to find out. There's plenty of replayability in the competency angle - what happens if I invest my points in different skills, for instance?
While fun, I did have a few issues with Skylight. One of these is very simple - I managed to die at one point when Melissa went off alone to sort out some thugs. She simply ran out of hitpoints and died because I had no idea her health was so low. A lot of the screen during combat is simply dead space - some form of status bar would be excellent here. There's also no indication of enemy hit points, but this works okay. Another issue I have is one of navigation - my first "mission" was to patrol the west side of town. This was complicated by my not knowing which way this was! Fortunately Toronto doesn't seem to be very big and I blundered into it eventually. While I find the more primitive graphics rather sweet, I feel like they could be a little more varied.
RPGs are complicated games to make and can get very samey very quickly. I was rather pleased to find that Skylight is trying a new setting and that, primitive though it may look, it is actually finished and plays fairly well. I hope to see future games from Dragoon Entertainment with more scope to the game world, because Skylight shows they are clearly capable of it. Meantime, well done for a good effort and I can imagine I'll be playing this one for a while longer yet.
Keywords: skylight review, dragoon entertainment ltd reviews, dragoon entertainment ltd games, skylight scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.