Even though RPGs can be one of the most complex genres, theyâ€™re also one of the most straightforward. Contrary to most genres, RPGs tend to be designed around linear progression. You defeat enemies, gain items and the game attempts to progress at relatively the same rate as you do. It sounds easy to do, yet a lot of games, especially more simplistic ones, fail to get it right. Following moderate success on the PlayStation 3 and Vita, Rainbow Moon is finally making its debut on the PlayStation 4. With some improvements on the original, cross-save functionality, lengthy story and more, is Rainbow Moon worth your time or is it just another indie game on the PlayStation 4?
Rainbow Moon tells the story of a traveler that is warped to the place known as Rainbow Moon by his rival and follows their quest to go home and close the gate. This is the basic premise, with most of the story/side quests solving local problems, clearing threats or performing feats that slowly reveal the world to you. Due to this the story can feel underwhelming at times, but overall thereâ€™s enough there to leave satisfied.
The real attraction is the gameplay. Rainbow Moon starts by attempting to tailor the experience to different play styles. First you select your difficulty, which really determines how much grinding youâ€™ll need to do, followed by play style. You can choose to start with some decent gear, a small amount of coins, a survival kit or nothing with the possibility of a greater reward. The goal of the play style system is not to change the experience, but rather change the amount of time/effort required to get to the point where Rainbow Moon starts to shine.
At first Rainbow Moon is a painfully basic turn based tactical RPG. Once you enter combat you more or less wait until two units at next to each other, followed by these units attacking until the other one dies. Even when you start facing five or seven enemies at once, there isnâ€™t much depth besides trying to get the enemy to you so you can strike first. As you progress enemies get a little more complicated, as do your attacks, allow for a more complex experience. However, itâ€™s going to take a fair bit of time to get there.
Arguably Rainbow Moonâ€™s biggest problem is how poorly paced the first couple of hours are. Depending on which play style you choose, youâ€™ll almost immediately be forced to grind. This is partly thanks to certain enemies that you need to defeat to progress, but largely due to how those battles are set up. Unless youâ€™re really lucky or immediately grasp the combat system, youâ€™re going to be overwhelmed by multiple targets or be unable to win multiple fights without healing. To make matters worse, the amount of experience needed to level and the way stats are distributed (though stones you get from defeated enemies that you trade into a shop), itâ€™s almost unavoidable. Especially as you start to face greater and more threatening challenges.
What makes this so frustrating is how unavoidable it is. You simply canâ€™t devise a tactic, at the start of the game anyway, where you take out multiple foes that are trying to defeat you; even more so when said enemies are at a higher level. Needless to say, it feels tedious for the sake of being tedious. But, thankfully, it isnâ€™t all bad either.
While asking for a time investment right off the bat is certainly discouraging, it forces you to really explore the world of Rainbow Moon too. Since you canâ€™t go from main quest to main quest without grinding, youâ€™ll often times find yourself exploring the vast corners of Rainbow Moon. Many paths have secret treasure, new fights, additional loot, food (to prevent starvation), helpful NPCs and even places to set up camp to change the flow or time/heal. Thankfully the game is designed around this too. A lot of useful resources are strategically placed so you donâ€™t need to spend too much time to find a shop, attribute NPC, camp fire or whatever.
In the end,Â Rainbow Moon is a fairly generic tactical RPG that requires a fair bit of grinding. Sure there is a fairly lengthy story, with plenty of side quests, but this is quickly overshadowed by the time investment to get from point A to B. Now if you love being at a disadvantage, having to overcome the odds and explore just to survive, then youâ€™ll probably really enjoy Rainbow Moon. But if you rather enjoy a thrilling story, have the gameplay naturally build up to larger investments or constantly progress through the story, expect to have a rough time with Rainbow Moon.
[Editor’s Note:Â Rainbow Moon was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]