Rainbow Moon – The PS3 Attitude Review
Rainbow Moon is a PSN-exclusive retro RPG from German developer SideQuest Studios, the creators of tough-as-nails shoot ‘em up Söldner-X. Sticking with their hardcore roots, the studio’s latest release is about as deep as RPGs can get, boasting a complex battle system, tons of quests to complete, and a huge world to explore; but is Rainbow Moon a world worth exploring?
At the start of the game, a young man named Baldren is on his way to duel his arch rival, when he stumbles upon a strange portal that transports him to the mysterious world of Rainbow Moon. Unfortunately, a slew of monsters come along for the ride too, so Baldren must save the people of Rainbow Moon from this new threat, while also finding his way back home.
And that’s basically all you need to know about the story. Despite being 40 hours in length, the main quest is actually a pretty standard RPG affair; speak to this person, retrieve this item, kill this enemy etc. It gets the job done, but you’ll most likely be playing Rainbow Moon because it’s a fun game, not because you want to find out what happens next.
The first thing you’re tasked with is choosing a difficulty; Normal allows you to level up organically, whereas Hard requires much more grinding for major battles. Being able to decide your own play-style like this is definitely a welcome feature. You can also choose your starting equipment, so you can make your first few hours with the game as easy or challenging as you wish.
Like pretty much every RPG ever made, your time in Rainbow Moon is divided almost equally between battling monsters and exploring the world. Combat is turn-based, but flows fast enough that it always remains fun. Battles are played on a grid, so Baldren and his companions must move within range of their opponents before they can attack.
Baldren favours a sword and shield combination and can only attack enemies directly next to him, whereas the bow-wielding Trisha can only attack enemies at least two squares away from her. All six possible party members use different weapon types, and each is effective in certain situations, adding a further element of strategy to combat.
In fact, ‘strategy’ is an important word throughout the whole of Rainbow Moon. With battle skills that upgrade with regular use, attributes to raise, equipment to improve with various materials, and loads of items to buy in shops, the level of customisation is utterly ridiculous. And the level cap? It’s 500! Believe us when we say that will take a very long time to reach.
Outside of combat, there’s still plenty to do. Rainbow Moon is full to bursting with NPCs to talk to and side quests to complete. Although the game is a singleplayer-only experience, you can upload your stats to the official website, such as time played and number of kills. It’s strange that the leaderboards aren’t available to view in-game, but this is a nice touch nonetheless.
Aspects of Rainbow Moon’s gameplay even reminded us of Pokémon, particularly in regard to item management; for example, ladders can be used as bridges over pits, and axes can be used to cut down trees. At first, you can only access a small section of Rainbow Moon, but once you gain access to a raft, it doesn’t take long for the world map to get overwhelmingly large.
Believe it or not, we’ve only covered the gameplay basics here; Rainbow Moon is an incredibly deep experience that will likely take dozens of hours to fully master. In truth, most gamers will probably never get to that stage, but it should prove to be an extremely rewarding and worthwhile experience for those players dedicated enough to take on the challenge.
Although SideQuest Studios is a German developer, pretty much every aspect of Rainbow Moon’s presentation positively screams ‘JRPG!’. The menus have more than a little in common with those of Final Fantasy, and the bright colour palette puts us in mind of games like Star Ocean. It should come as no surprise then, that Rainbow Moon is one of the prettiest games we’ve ever played.
Trees and flowers sway gently in the breeze, and groups of butterflies can be seen fluttering around the landscape. Despite its cartoonish appearance, it’s a world that feels genuinely alive and lived in. Considering that Rainbow Moon is named after the place it is set in, SideQuest clearly wanted to make the environment shine, and they absolutely succeeded.
The sound effects have a typical JRPG fantasy flavour, and are even strangely addictive, in that we came to associate each noise with the event it represents; for example, a chest opening or an attack hitting an opponent. A special mention should also be given to the game’s original soundtrack, which is one of the best we’ve heard in a long time, with fittingly epic and catchy tunes.
Dialogue unfortunately isn’t voiced, but this is understandable considering how big the game is (and how small the development team is), and it fits the old-school vibe of the game well. Less easy to forgive are the game’s many grammatical mistakes, such as incorrect syntax or tenses. To be fair, English isn’t SideQuest’s first language, but the sheer number of errors is slightly disappointing.
At an investment of only $14.99/£9.99, Rainbow Moon offers perhaps the best value on the PlayStation Network. Completionists will easily sink 40 hours into the huge main story, and dozens more on side quests, optional dungeons and post-game content. Of course, quantity is nothing without quality, but thankfully SideQuest Studios’ new game has both in abundance.
Certain gamers might not appreciate its retro gameplay, but Rainbow Moon harks back to a simpler time, when videogames were about having fun, not about online multiplayer or telling an epic story. The result is that what we have here isn’t just one of the best games on PSN, but also one of the best RPGs on PS3; to say Rainbow Moon surprised us is a major understatement.
Rainbow Moon is now available to download from the European PlayStation Store, and will arrive tomorrow in North America.