Review: Rainbow Moon
This game was reviewed on PlayStation 3
What’s your favourite part of RPGs? Is it the experience of the journey, emotionally growing alongside the characters as they defeat evil and restore balance to their world? Is it discovering all the hidden secrets in a world, being the first to defeat the ultimate boss and being the one to show all your friends where the best secret weapon in the game is? Or do you prefer the battling, defeating endless numbers of foul beasts, levelling up your characters to their maximum ability and crafting your team into a well-oiled killing machine? If you answered yes to the last question, then Rainbow Moon could well be a game for you. Sure, it contains elements to satisfy those who answered positively to the first questions as well, but battling is where Rainbow Moon’s focus lies.
Rainbow Moon opens with the tale of Baldren, a warrior who is stranded on the eponymous planet, having been sent there during battle with his eternal enemy. That’s pretty much the extent that the story of Rainbow Moon stretches to, in that Baldren desires to return home, and to do so he needs to close a dimensional gate to stem the stream of monsters that are flooding onto Rainbow Moon. If you’re looking for an epic tale of lost love, personal discovery and dastardly betrayal, then you’re in the wrong place. The narrative of Rainbow Moon consists largely of fetch quests and grinding your way through dungeons for no reason other than to open up the next area. What little story that exists can be amusing at times, mainly due to its absurdity, but on more than one occasion I found myself grimacing at the poor translation job that has been done on the text. Furthermore, upon completing certain fetch quests, I found that several NPCs had disappeared behind houses, or beyond impassible fences, meaning I had to stand around for a period of time before I could return the items they so ‘desperately’ needed.
The vast majority of items that you need for these fetch quests can be gathered by overcoming monsters, and the rest are usually lying at the bottom of a dungeon somewhere, and can be reached by – you guessed it – defeating more monsters. Battling really is the focus of Rainbow Moon, and thankfully, it is easily one of the game’s strongest facets. Fights are executed via a tactical battlefield, where each character is given a set number of moves per turn, including physical movement between squares on the battle grid, attacks (either physical or magical), and item use.
Although battles start off simply, with one character against a small number of enemies, within a couple of hours of play you will find yourself fending off up to fifteen monsters with a team of three player-controlled heroes, with abilities ranging from physical and ranged attacks to magical abilities. You will find that if you don’t plan a number of steps ahead, it will be all too easy for your enemies to take down your entire team in a matter of turns, and it’s crucial that each of your teams support the other two with their abilities.
The battle system of Rainbow Moon is one of the deepest and more enjoyable that I’ve experienced in recent RPGs, and considering how much time you’ll be spending fighting enemies, it really comes across as a breath of fresh air. Whilst your characters gain experience from defeating enemies, levelling up serves only to increase your health and mana points, and although it increases the capacity for stats upgrades, these can only be unlocked properly through the use of pearls. Each character gains pearls by defeating enemies, and only the character that defeats a certain enemy will gain the pearl for doing so. For example, if Baldren brings an enemy down to the verge of death, yet Trisha delivers the blow that actually kills it, then only Trisha gains the pearl and the benefits that come with it.
Battles and character improvement develop into a fine balance of making sure that you’re evenly distributing enemy deaths, to prevent one character being left at the wayside with inferior statistics. Once you’ve collected a decent number of pearls, you need to pay a visit to the savant, who allows you to improve your characters in whichever way you prefer. If you want to advance your speed, strength, defence, or a mixture, you can, so long as you have enough pearls. This allows for a certain amount of customisation, although it still pays to stick to a character’s strengths, as a magic user won’t be particularly adept with a sword, no matter how hard you try.
Visually, Rainbow Moon is incredibly pleasing to the eye, with bright colours, crisp environments and character models, and a fairly liberal palette. One feature I found particularly enjoyable was that each of your characters’ appearances would change depending on which equipment they were currently wearing. It’s only a small touch, but one I haven’t encountered in too many RPGs similar to Rainbow Moon before, and it lent a definite sense of a personal touch to proceedings. The one area in which the game’s visuals didn’t live up to the rest of its output was in the dungeon settings, specifically in the battle scenes, where huge chunks of the screen were taken up by grey or beige borders, signalling the edges of the playable area. It’s an understandable indicator of where your characters cannot move to, but it still left the impression that these areas were unfinished, and the visuals here felt a little cheap.
Rainbow Moon is a throwback to RPGs of old, where a player’s dedication and skill were paramount, as opposed to many of today’s RPGs where enough button-mashing and a small slice of luck will still see you through to the end of the game. If you’re prepared to sit down and fight a seemingly endless supply of monsters, and you take pride in building a well-established team of fighters, then you will find a lot to enjoy here. Rainbow Moon is certainly not an easy game for everyone to fall in love with, but it shows that with enough perseverance, and the willingness to hit a brick wall over and over in your quest to overcome it, any obstacle can be defeated. This is a fine example of an RPG done right, and it doesn’t pander to the casual crowd in the slightest.
Final score: 4.25 out of 5
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