The PlayStation store has been more of a haven for smaller publishers to try their hand at creating games for a wider audience than the budget PC shelf at your local ASDA. With many smaller developers producing some must-have classics on the service there is plenty of choice out there, from the zombie heavy to another recurring theme – retro style games. With many taking inspirations from the days of wire frames or 16bit technology, using familiar art directions and effects but with a little extra PS3 power to smooth out the previously rough edges, it seems a great direction to go down. One such company heading this way is SideQuest Studios, who have previously developed the Soldner-X games and now focus their attentions to the glory days of the RPG.
Rainbow Moon returns us to mystical worlds similar to those from The Secret of Mana and Chronotrigger, full of monsters to battle and villagers to save. In Rainbow Moon we play as a warrior Baldren, who at the start of the game is trying to find the location of an annual tournament. Not put off by the slightly suspicious and dangerous location, he proceeds, only to be pushed into a dimensional warp gate by his nemesis that transports him to the world of Rainbow Moon. Soon upon your arrival you realize that it was not only you that came through the warp gate, but hundreds of monsters that are wreaking havoc across the world, leaving you not only to get off this strange world but also slay his way through a terrifying variety of monsters.
All of the action is presented in a rather awkwardly angled isometric view that makes its hard to tell which way is north. The action sees you walking into the bad guys that patrol the world and then being transported to a battle arena. The fighting is a pretty standard turn based affair with each character waiting to move, attack, use an item or defend. It starts off a little bland but quickly gets more interesting after levelling up, with you earning sub turns which allow more movements per turn; granting you a bit more freedom and more tactical options. These sub turns do bring up an unexpected issue, for example, if in the first move you are attacking and then in the second, defending from a boss, you use the d-pad to select attack and the d-pad again to choose which way to aim. On the second turn you need to cancel out from the menu as far as possible, otherwise if, press down on the dpad to move, you will in fact attack again in that direction; OK if you fell the enemy, but disastrous if you meant to block as some of these baddies pack a mean punch. Thankfully SideQuest have had the foresight to allow you to save at any point as long as not in battle, allowing you to frequently store your progress in case you pull off one of these silly moments.
As you battle your enemies you will earn experience points that level up your character, Rainbow Pearls and also random loot. With each level your character gains they will be able to spend the Rainbow Pearls via a character called Savant, boosting attributes like hit points, luck, strength and speed which can all able to be increased to the characters current level limits, which will in turn increase with more levelling. The same can be said for your allies as they join you on your quest, with the character that delivers the final blow earning whatever levelling points and pearls.
Along your travels you’ll bump into many characters, some will join you in battles, others allow you to purchase new items or craft your current items into even more powerful weapons and armour depending on the miscellaneous items you gather from fights.
The world of Rainbow Moon is split into two main areas, above ground and dungeons, both allowing for plenty of battles. Above ground there is a night and day cycle where you will find more of the world’s inhabitants to interact with, whilst the Dungeons are steeped in darkness and are very well designed, full of secret passages and enemies baiting you with huge golden chests. Do you risk a fight or come back later once you have levelled up some more? Each area will have a selection of vendors but these are not easy to find and most of the time you will need to fight through plenty of monsters to get to use their wares, be it using pearls, healing or purchasing items like torches to light up the dark and dreary corridors.
With a boast of over 100 hours gameplay on offer here, Rainbow Moon is in no rush to finish, with it managing to slowly drip feed you main and side quests that never manage to get boring. The biggest time eater is on the harder game settings where grinding is essential and where the game has taken a rather clever route. As mentioned earlier, if you walk into an enemy on-screen you are transported to the battle screen, however once defeated they no longer populate the world map, staying dead. To give you plenty of grinding chances there a plenty of encounters that pop up quite regularly, with you able to either ignore them if you want to push the story forward or jump into a scrap with a press of the X button, allowing you to earn more levelling up points and loot.
Rainbow Moon is a great nod to the RPG’s of old, taking into account what worked and what needed tweaking and even though creating a few new issues, overall this is the perfect remedy for the washout summer we are experiencing.
Rating: Excellent Review Policy (version tested: PS3)
Rainbow Moon is exclusive to PS3 and PSN is available for download from July 4.