Review: Rainbow Moon (PS4)

rainbow-moon-ps4-review-banner-yr10

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Rainbow Moon
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.77 GB)
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: eastasiasoft
Developer: SideQuest Studios
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Rainbow is also available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Rainbow Moon has been available on PlayStation 3 since 2012, and later made its way to PlayStation Vita in 2013. Now it is making the transition to PlayStation 4, and I couldn’t be happier. Why? Well, because I am still playing it.

That’s not to say that this game has hundreds of hours of content like Skyrim or The Witcher. It’s simply a game that I love to revisit every now and then to enjoy its simplistic nod to a time when games were about exploring colorful worlds and meeting unique characters through a pretty simple story of good versus evil.

Visually, Rainbow Moon does not emulate an 8-bit or 16-bit graphical style like so many nostalgic indie games. Hell, it doesn’t even look like an original PlayStation game. It’s beautiful, colorful, and looks amazing in HD.

Rainbow Moon_20160216214420

While the isometric perspective resembles games like Tactical Ogre, Landstalker, and Final Fantasy Tactics, Rainbow Moon does not look dated. Even starting the game on the PlayStation 4 almost four years after it was launched on PlayStation 3 gave me pause in reflection of how beautiful this little game looks.

The game places you in the shoes of a warrior named Baldren, although I changed my character’s name for my playthrough. Baldren has been forced through a magical gate by his nemesis and he finds himself trapped in the world of Rainbow Moon, which in itself isn’t so bad.

… a vibrant world …
But along with his passing through the gate, monsters have also taken advantage of it as well to make Rainbow Moon their new home and the residents of that world are not happy. In fact, they find it somewhat coincidental that you happened to come through the gate at the same time and blame you for the whole thing.

The only way you can return things to the way they were before and save this world is by returning to yours and closing the rift created by your enemy. Easier said than done, right? That is correct.

Fortunately, your journey will not be embarked upon alone as you will meet friends along the way who are more than happy to help you on your quest, provided you aid them in their own personal dilemmas.

Rainbow Moon_20160216213447

Gameplay:
Rainbow Moon does not hold false pretenses about its identity. It does not have a Final Fantasy level story, nor does it have hundreds of virtual square miles to explore, although the setting is still pretty massive.

What it does provide is a vibrant world, one that includes dungeons, villages, and various environments. Combat is handled upon a grid in a strategic turn-based mechanic, much like Final Fantasy Tactics though not quite are difficult or overwhelming.

Enemy encounters are handled in two different ways, allowing you to explore most of the world without annoying random interruptions. Monsters are both seen wandering the environments, or appear as optional random encounters. You will see their names appear on the bottom of the screen, and you have the option to press a button and engage them.

… Combat is where Rainbow Moon shines …
The only time you have to absolutely confront an enemy is when they are blocking a path or with the obligatory boss battle. Naturally, engaging in random encounters is recommended in order to raise your level, but when you are exploring and want to be left alone you have the option to do so.

When you do level your characters, you are offered a choice of areas to level using pearls to add to various attributes. In addition to making yourself stronger via leveling, you are also able to purchase weapons and armor via vendor kiosks in the various villages you will visit along your journey.

Rainbow Moon_20160216214117

Combat is where Rainbow Moon shines. When you collide with an enemy or accept a random encounter you are warped into a small grid arena, representative of the environment you are exploring. Here you and your companions engage the enemy in turn-based combat.

While each character is capable of traditional attacks achieved by standing next to the enemy and slashing in their direction, true enjoyment comes in taking advantage of the advanced techniques you and your companions learn throughout the campaign.

… variety in combat styles makes experimenting a blast …
Much like the combat, these techniques are grid based. For example, one of your buddies has the ability to charge in a straight line taking up three grid squares to plow through the group of enemies with ease.

Meanwhile, your long range archer can shoot practically across the entire arena, aiding you when you are surrounded, or simply drawing first blood. And while you are only allowed three characters in combat, the variety in combat styles makes experimenting a blast.

Rainbow Moon_20160216213302

There are quite a few side quests and dungeons in Rainbow Moon. Dungeons contain the standard locked doors and roaming enemies. Actually, within the catacombs you are more restricted in your ability to avoid enemies.

For the most part, they block paths and make it essential to clear them out before moving forward. Honestly, I looked forward to most combat in this game except when I was returning to town to turn in a quest, so it was fun plowing through enemies in the dark below.

… flashy special effects …
Visuals:
It’s nostalgic, but beautiful. Not implying that retro games are ugly, but what Rainbow Moon does is something unique. It provides a visual style that is pleasing to look at, even by today’s standards, while managing to pull on nostalgic heartstrings with its gameplay and style. And the style is maintained throughout.

Villages teem with life and little homes and buildings share a similar cartoon quality. In fact, so beautiful are the in-game graphics, that it makes the relatively underwhelming character profile art look a bit weak.

Thankfully everything else looks great. Combat special moves are accompanied by flashy special effects, reminiscent of games like Disgaea. Despite being a few years old, this game looks great on PlayStation 4.

Rainbow Moon_20160216214259

Audio:
Within a few weeks of playing Rainbow Moon on PlayStation 3 I purchased the soundtrack. I love the music in this game. Once again, it manages to feel classic, while adhering to standards expected in today’s musical scores.

There isn’t much dialogue here aside from the story narration provided with the introductory animation. Village shopkeepers repeat the same audible lines when you approach them, regardless of the town you visit, while others simply speak in text.

… so engaging in its simplicity …
In the combat arena, your characters talk trash as they attack, which is also followed by an exciting array of sound effects to emphasize the power of your special moves. I honestly have no complaints here. This game looks and sounds great.

Online/Multiplayer: 
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Rainbow Moon_20160216213254

Conclusion:
I have loved Rainbow Moon for a few years now. I try to give as much attention to indie games as possible as they are created with a passion not often governed by a paycheck.

When I played through Rainbow Moon initially, I forgot that I was playing a game created by a small team. Not because it looks and plays like The Witcher or Final Fantasy XV, rather because it is so engaging in its simplicity that I can not put it down.

And I didn’t have to because it provided hours of enjoyment, so it didn’t feel quite as brief as some other indie titles. At its price point, you will get your money’s worth and then some. You might even fall in love with this little game like I did.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook