Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rainbow Moon PSN Review

There is always the debate of quantity versus quality, something that often comes up when you see a game like Rainbow Moon that delivers 50-100 hours worth of content, but doesn't have the most engaging world or gameplay. Rainbow Moon manages to deliver an impressive amount of content with a pretty decent amount of quality. This is a turn based RPG/tactics game, like Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics, but unlike both of those games this world is rather open. You start the game alone, on the world Rainbow Moon, and only one island is open to you. Once you eventually work through that island and conquer it you get access to the mainland, which starts to open up rather quickly. The story in Rainbow Moon isn't as strong as either of the previously mentioned games, nor are the characters as lively or interesting, but this $15 downloadable still does quite a bit right.

You start out the game with just one character, Baldren (who can be renamed if you want), a warrior who was thrown into a portal that brought him to Rainbow Moon. You spend most of the game trying to get off of Rainbow Moon and back to where you came from, but as you go along you pick up plenty of other party members, and explore a great many dungeons, cellars, towns and wilderness areas. You also will eventually earn yourself a boat, which opens up everything to you. The world seems a bit small at first, but once you hit the main continent you start to see just how much content this game has. Check out this great introduction developer video for an overview.

Normally developers make the beginning of their game really exciting in order to get you immediately involved in the storyline, but to my dismay Sidequest Studios didn't do that all that well. This is one of those games where the beginning feels like a bit of slog and it is doesn't start to get more interesting until you get to the mainland. Once you get to the mainland the quests start to become a bit more interesting and it is fun to explore. There are a few things that make exploring a bit more interesting, like the day/night cycle that actually has night look and feel different, plus there are more enemies around at night, or the whole system of having each day be unique. For instance, there is a day called moon day that will come around and there are a few places that I've run into that are affected by this, like a well that has a giant boss monster at it only on this specific day.

The characters that populate the world of Rainbow Moon aren't that exciting or unique and in that sense they all feel a bit old school, especially since they aren't voiced, but there are some interesting things they did with the inhabitants of Rainbow Moon. There are people in the game who obviously have quests for you, they have a big marker that shows that, but you are always rewarded for talking to everyone. Some people will tell you what is unique about a specific day, others might hint at a secret loot and others might give you a quest. The whole quest system is fairly typical, but I thank god that in twenty hours I've yet to run into one quest that says kill x number of enemies, however there are a few quests that have you venturing into dungeons to fetch some item or kill one specific enemy.

The combat system is moderately deep and enjoyable. You can use the d-pad on the PS3 controller or the analog sticks to move your characters during combat, both of which feel pretty fluid, but it is pretty easy to make an accidental movement with the analog sticks due to their high level of responsiveness. Each character has six attributes: strength, defense, luck, speed, hit points and magic points. Each character has a different cost to raise each one of those, based on their class, and those attributes make all of the difference in combat. So, if you choose to be passive and ignore many roaming enemies then you won't have as many points available to put into those attributes. You also of course have equipment for each character and passive and active skills. On top of all that there is a bias system that gives each character, and enemy, strengths and weaknesses against certain weapon types. All of that together makes combat feel pretty good, but it doesn't quite match the customization and depth of big $60 games of the same genre. However, I've never seen any other downloable title of the same genre, of which there are few, make a combat system with this much depth. Take a look at this developer video explaining the combat.

Graphically Rainbow Moon is a bit odd. The world is very colorful, almost to a fault, and it takes a while to get used to how the characters look, especially once you see them in combat, but thankfully the animations are satisfyingly smooth. The abilities are pretty familiar looking to other games of the genre too, in which they can be simple little attacks, like a shield bash, or something huge that rips the enemies into the air and hits them with a great magical explosion. There are a decent amount of combat maps and they are all based upon where you are standing in the world when you entered combat. Some of the environments get a bit old, but otherwise there is enough to keep you visually pleased with the graphical style. Like all games the graphical style is one that you may immediately find displeasing, but if the videos haven't revolted you then you will be perfectly fine with it ingame. 

Last Comments
As a fan of turn based tactics game I was immediately drawn to Rainbow Moon. Like I mentioned before the first chunk of the game was a bit difficult to get through, mainly because the story wasn't very engaging and the world was pretty linear at that point, but once you get a full party to customize, a boat to roam the world with, and a plentiful amount of options open to you then the game starts to become quite a lot of fun. Rainbow Moon's main selling points are its solid combat system, its huge world to explore and the huge amount of content available to you. You can beat the game in about 40 hours, but the developers claim that there is closer to 100 hours worth of content if you try to do it all. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I wish the story was way more interesting and that the characters you recruited had more personality. For $15 this downloadable title is pretty ambitious and it does deliver a lot, but just be aware that this is focused on a fairly specific audience; the kind of audience that loves delving into an open world filled to the brim with content and doesn't mind the negatives. 

Violent Score: 3.5 (out of 5)

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-Written by Sean Cargle


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