Skies of Arcadia features a multitude of unique characters for you to meet. From sexually harassing admirals to the noblest of upperclassmen, there is a multitude of personalities awaiting to meet you. It goes without saying that Overworks made the majority of the characters in the game different, with only a few shopkeepers being the same character model, but who cares about them? The important characters, and even those who aren’t such a priority, are great and even better is the fact that you could take your time to learn a lot about them. That is pertaining you were willing to spend the time to visit them after every major interval. Indeed, in Skies of Arcadia almost everyone has their own tale, and it’s up to Vyse and the player to change the lives of as many people as possible. In his journey, Vyse is not the only one to grow as the experiences recounted by everyone might just leave an impact on yourself.
This is because Skies of Arcadia presents such tales as the sad story of Belleza and her father, or Don, a sailor who lost his thirst for life after seeing so many fail to conquer the impenetrable dark rift, and even Drachma, whose tale for unquenchable revenge will not end until either him or Rhaknam is dead. After all, how many of us have felt the loss of a loved one? Perhaps you’ve lost your passion for something you loved in life after trying so hard and not seeing any rewards? Or even pursued a single goal relentlessly at the cost of everything that truly matters? Almost every moment in Skies of Arcadia is packed with memorable or unique characters. The developers even took their time to add small details that sometimes help distinguish even the lowliest of NPCs. An interesting note is that, aside from a few villains, most of the characters you’ll see throughout the story are multi-dimensional. These characters all have their own ideals and interests, and they can be witnessed throughout the game.
To provide an example for this, take Gilder The Unfettered, a man whose goal in life initially appears to be simply the pursuit of pleasure. He’s fun loving, silly, and a total womanizer who appears to be trying to teach Vyse about taking a more relaxed approached to everything. But once you cut through the surface, you’ll realize why he’s actually an accomplished and respected captain. How he’s earned the respect of his crew by being a reliable leader and even manages to teach Vyse about both the fun and responsibility that comes with being in charge of others. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Enrique starts out as a naive young prince with hopes of changing the world. Throughout his journey, he learns that, at times, force is necessary to get what you need and even challenges his own mother, the Empress Teodora, when he realizes that she’s too far gone in her endeavors. The traits displayed by these characters feat real and it is part of what makes Skies of Arcadia such a special game.
Even the secondary characters, such as the crew members, a few NPCs, and some of the enemies, get in on the development. You’ll be able to get to know your own crew, and by speaking to them on a regular basis, you’ll discover their fears and goals. You can assist a few of them with their own goals to make them join you and even give one or two of them closure in their lives. A few characters will change their goals and betray their country just to uphold their values and ideals. Others have no such compulsions or morals and, as such, they work for whoever lets them pursue their own feverish endeavors. The colorful and varied cast means that almost everyone can find a character to identify or look-up to.
But if I had to criticize anything about the game it would that, despite the flaws which are displayed by some of the more obsessive characters, they’re rather lacking. Perhaps it is nostalgia speaking, but I don’t remember many characters displaying traits that I would consider negative in order to round them out. Vyse is unquestionably heroic, brave and, if played right, nearly infallible. This might make some players feel he comes off as a Gary Stu, but he’s written with sincere enough to let it slide, and things don’t always work out for his advantage, seeing as he’s both captured or invaded more than once.
Yet, it would have been nicer to see Vyse actually make serious mistakes, or get to a point where he’s frustrated and perhaps even stumped more than once, if just to round him out a bit. While this observation might come off as hypocritical, seeing as the polar opposite of him would be exactly what I disliked about the brooding archetypes. Not once did I personally feel like I was playing a Gary Stu, and the challenges he faces are often grounded within the realm of the lore itself. All things considered, Overworks worked well to make a diverse cast of characters which are funny, relatable, and even admirable. Truly one of the reasons why Skies of Arcadia is one of the most legendary titles of the Sega Dreamcast.
Want to find out more about the story for Skies of Arcadia? Click here and read our retrospective regarding the story