Rainbow Moon, a new strategy RPG for PSN, is made by SideQuest Studios, a company without a significant pedigree. However, being a pretty big fan of role-playing games, when this creator of the excellent Soldner X and X-2 decided it wanted to take a stab at a strategy RPG, it got me excited. After sinking some time into it, though, I’ve discovered that this game is not for me. That isn’t to say it’s a bad game; not in the least. This is a love letter to the role-playing gamers that live for turn base strategy. Rainbow Moon makes a great effort to ensure you are of the old school crowd, as grinding via countless battles takes center stage.
Story wise, there is not much to see here. There is a small set-up, in which you play as Beldren, a man who has been transported to Rainbow Moon, where monsters are ravaging and pillaging the land. The story takes you through a series of fetch quest and monster slayings, without introducing any notable characters, other than the ones you recruit in your party. The story falls flat in the largest way, but the gameplay is there to pick up the slack.
On the presentation front, the game is beautiful. The colorful environments are a wonder to look at, and the character models really pop overall. The music also complements the graphics, as its upbeat tone is very catchy at times. I also really enjoyed the little voice acting that was present. The shopkeepers in town have a very cartoony vibe, and their “hello” and “goodbye” phrases always seem to make me laugh. The world is superb and definitely one of the highlights to the game.
As I have already mentioned, the gameplay is the meat of this experience. It is fairly traditional, if not a little more simplistic than most turn-based strategy RPGs. You move your characters around on a grid, with an opposing force ranging anywhere from one to twenty enemies in your way. You can choose to move, attack (if you are in range), or use skills or items on your turn. You can also choose to defend to reduce the damage inflicted by your enemies. These battles can be slow, and you really need to think about your choices before proceeding.
The benefits from battles are that you gain experience and the two forms of currency. First, there are Rainbow Coins, the resource used to buy equipment, and second there are Rainbow Pearls, the pool from which you can upgrade a variety of skills. These skills provide more mana and health points, additional strength in battle, how your characters are placed in the turn order and more.
Battles come in two forms. The first are encounters on the map. The enemy horde is visible, inviting you to walk up and attack. These monsters are usually blocking areas of interest. The other allows you to choose from a battle when it appears on the side of your screen. This gives you the chance to grind out a more diverse range of monsters.
That is one of the key words in this game: grinding. There were multiple times where I wanted to push forward and make sure that I was seeing as much of the game as possible. Often, I would get beaten down and have to participate in the same battles over and over. That is where I really found that this game was not for me. I do not have the patience to sit there and challenge the same battles a hundred or so times over. This aspect also shows me that this is for the old school gamer, as they will cherish the nostalgia that seems to be stuffed into Rainbow Moon.
Aside from the battles, there is more to manage in the game world. Each character has a hunger meter that you need to track to make sure that you do not lose health when you are not on the battlefield. You also need to always be sure that you have torches before going into a dungeon, or else you will not be able to see your surroundings. Also, if you manage to fail a battle, you do begin right where you left off, but with a single health point, forcing you to retrace your steps to find a healer, or drink some of the potions you have, which are hard to come by. There are at times way too many things to manage, adding to the frustration of the game.
Overall, I do not think that Rainbow Moon is a bad game at all, as there is something to love here. I just found myself frustrated at how much I had to manage. The game beats you down, and unless you stick to a routine of grinding to gain levels and coins, you will be continually frustrated. There is fun to be had, as I have said, and if you have an itch for nostalgia that needs scratching, love role playing games and have a ton of time to play this summer, then Rainbow Moon is definitely worth the fifteen dollar admission price.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.