When you first look at SideQuests Studio’s comic book styled RPG Rainbow Moon, you may get the feeling that this is a game that began life as a free-to-play game on a mobile platform. In fact this is a game that came out originally on the PS3 back in 2012, and it’s just made the leap to the PS4 and Vita systems. Offering a story with 40+ hours of gameplay, 20 dungeons and a robust turn-based combat, it’s a game that should surely appeal to any RPG fans. It was a title that I initially missed the first time but always had an interest in trying it out, so when I got a new PS4 copy I was keen to get stuck in.
The story (what little there is of it) is left very much in the background, there’s a start and finish and not a whole lot in the middle. You play as Baldren (although you do get the chance to rename him), a hero in his own world, who heads off to fight his old nemesis Namoris. Unfortunately for our hero Namoris has set a trap that sees him pulled into a portal to a new world. Here Baldren is met by a group of settlers on a peaceful little island. Well it would be if it wasn’t for the fact that large quantities of monsters also passed through the portal and are terrorising the residents. It’s not a particularly memorable opening, but for this game it feels like that’s enough; it’s the games developing gameplay that will have you coming back. NPC’s offer quests for you to take on and the tongue in cheek dialogue given here is entertaining and fun to put a smile on your face every now and then.
Rainbow Moon follows the growing list of titles to embrace the cross-save feature, meaning you can take your dungeon exploration with you on the Vita using the same save data as your PS4. The game plays out on isometric plain which feels very reminiscent of titles like Final Fantasy Tactics. The problem with viewing the world in this way is that it can be fiddly control and it’s easy to misjudge paths, so your character bounces around comically off trees, boulders and so on. It can take some time to get the hang over the controls and the level designs but once you do you’ll enjoy exploring every nook and cranny for various bits of loot. Exploration is very enjoyable; there are the main over-world islands which are bright and vibrant, and each one holds a quaint little settlement or dark confusing labyrinth. Another bonus is that when you re-explore starting areas you don’t have to worry about weaker enemies blocking your path because of a neat random encounter system (more on that later).
Combat comes in the form of turn based brawls on a grid like map featuring a rather stiff camera setup. Initially you can only plan one movement at a time as you hobble across the map and exchange blows with bees and imps. For the first 30-60 minutes this is incredibly frustrating and the thought of just stopping there did cross my mind. However you’ll eventually hit a marker that opens open sub-moves letting you make two moves per turn. Over the next 3 hours you gain a number of skills, a partner, and you start to see some promise in how the games gameplay is going to unfold and progress down the line. It’s the exploration and the gradual development to your fighting capabilities that will inevitably drive you through the game. Fights are generally fun, despite the lack of challenge, there are a number of enemy unit quirks you can take advantage of and with your skills you can deal some crunching damage figures.
You’ll encounter two types of enemy units on your quest. The first are enemies that casually wander the environment, these ones you’re typically forced to fight in order to progress. The second are random encounters that appear as you explore. However the way these are handled is one of my favourite things about the game: they’re completely optional! When a random encounter crops up you are given a prompt to press the X button and initiate the fight, but alternatively you can simply ignore it and continue on your merry way. This gives you a lot of freedom to explore every nook and cranny of the world without being interrupted every five seconds to take part in another time consuming fight. Of course while you can avoid these enemies you should take some time to take part in these to gain a good deal of experience and Rainbow Pearls.
The main issue with the game is that progressing is such a grind. Gaining experience is painstakingly slow, enemies dole out very little and the only thing that increases is your characters Hit Points and Mana. Boosting your other stats requires Rainbow Pearls which are given to characters who finish an enemy off. By visiting a Servan you’re able to spend these pearls on higher stats. This system is nice in that you can build your characters up as you want, but when levelling normally is already slow and tedious this feature feels like an extra chore. Another mechanic included is the hunger bar but it’s baffling as to why it was added. As you explore the world this bar gradually decreases, let it drop too far it starts to affect your characters health. To counteract this of course the solution is to eat and drink anything from buns, apples and water, but it’s a mechanic that’s forgettable and feels very out of place for this game. These items also eat away at your inventory space and it can be frustrating in situations where you find a new technique but you can’t pick it up because you’ve got one too many carrots.
Rainbow Moon is a pretty standard RPG with a lot of grinding required. It does have its flaws like it’s Initially slow to get going, plus levelling up can be a slog but at the same time it shows a lot of promise with some interesting mechanics, enjoyable exploration and satisfying combat. If you’re after an enticing, epic story then you better off looking elsewhere, but if you’re interested in being pitted against tough enemies and lots of exploration in a bright vibrant world then this is worth a look.
This review is based off a review code of Rainbow Moon provided by Eastasiasoft.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.