Take to the skies in JRPG-inspired Sky Oceans: Wings for Hire

Turn-based dogfights in the sky.

2 mins read

Classic JRPG-styled games are catching a lot of flak lately, with some (wrong) people believing that turn-based games are dated and on the outs. As a turn-based fan, I’m delighted every time a game defies that belief by incorporating turn-based gameplay. Sky Oceans: Wings for Hire is turn-based, but it also brings the action from land to the skies.

It’s been centuries since The Great Scattering, an event that shattered the surface of the planet, threw land towards the skies, and destroyed most of humanists. Remnants of the planet are still floating around in the atmosphere; here, humanity has formed new tribes and adapted to life in the skies. In Sky Oceans: Wings for Hire, players take on the role of young, tenacious captain Glenn Windwalker. He yearns for exploration, and is suddenly thrust into the adventure of a lifetime. The game rewards those who explore diverse locations to build new relationships and uncover additional missions that lead to secret treasures. The story is a heartfelt narrative about searching for purpose and building lifelong friendships.

Players will recruit their own crews of Sky Pirates one-by-one. Each member is unique and comes with their own backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. It’s imperative to keep them happy for bonus efficiency in battles. (This reminds me a little of Path of the Midnight Sun). Multiple dialogue options means that decisions will impact how these characters feel about Glenn, so choose wisely.

The turn-based battles in this game are dogfights in the sky, designed with screen-popping user interface elements. Tactically choose whether to attack enemies or evade incoming fire. After long battles, maintain your team’s safety by upgrading offensive and defensive power with extra weapons, reinforced equipment, and agility improvements.

The game’s visuals are heavily inspired by Studio Ghibili, making for diverse environments and memorable character designs. The soundtrack goes old school and is orchestrated, which is a really nice touch.

Developed by Octeco Studios and published by PQube, Sky Oceans: Wings for Hire will be released for PC via Steam, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series.


Lindsay picked up an NES controller for the first time at the age of 6 and instantly fell in love. She began reviewing GBA games 20 years ago and quickly branched out from her Nintendo comfort zone. She has has developed a great love of life sims and FMV titles. For her, accessibility is one of the most important parts of any game (but she also really appreciates good UI).

  • In conversations online, I am encountering the opposite problem from what you state in the first few sentences above. There are so many turn-based RPG fans who are just adamant and vocal about how in their opinion the popularity of action RPGs is horrible (and games like FF16 are pre-judged ‘trash’). Putting that part of the conversation aside, I always tell them that there are plenty of turn-based and modified turn-based JRPG-styled games coming out. But many of these people, when I talk about games made by teams outside of Japan — even excellent games like the upcoming Sea of Stars, and games like Cris Tales or Chained Echoes — scoff at and discount any game not made in Japan as “poseur” or “fake”. It’s like some kind of reverse racism thing. For me, if a game like Sky Oceans is fun, then fans should play it and enjoy games like this as a counterpoint to FF16. So many fun games to play!

    • There is certainly an overall trend away from turn-based combat for the games that are perceived to be “bigger” (even Atelier is moving away from turn-based combat as we saw with Ryza). There is the perception in the industry itself that turn-based combat isn’t exciting enough for modern audiences, so turn-based games tend to be the smaller-scale, quirky and “niche” ones.

      I don’t mind either way. Love a good turn-based game as much as I love good action. I just hope that the balance remains there between the two.

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