Review - Rainbow Moon

Posted on August 28, 2012 - 11:56am

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Rainbow Moon is a strategy role playing game (SRPG) beset with a roller-coaster of highs and lows. While overly repetitious and tedious elements drag the title down, its price coupled with an unusually strong musical score make this one downloadable title worth checking out.

Players take on the role of Balder, a promising warrior who is tricked by his nemesis and banished to the realm of Rainbow Moon. Here Balder must complete a seemingly endless chain of fetch quests for the moon's denizens in order to finally make it back home. Almost everything about Balder and his quest is learned in the first five minute and forgotten for the next forty hours. Players are subjected to fetch quest after fetch quest without end. Certain parts of the game even force players to obtain one item that allows them to seek out and collect another item that they must then use to finally procure the item they were after all along. Every ounce of Rainbow Moon's story feels like filler meant to pad the length of the game. The problem is that other games use fluff to pad gameplay between significant plot points and once it is cleared, players are rewarded with significant story or character development.Rainbow Moon, however, has no story or character development, leaving players to mindlessly slog through hour after hour of meaningless quests for little to no reward.

Luckily, Rainbow Moon's gameplay helps drive players to aid Balder on his long journey home. At its core Rainbow Moon is a SRPG, but with some notable differences. Players move Balder and his companions over a grid to square off against the monsters that inhabit the moon. Right away players will notice that Rainbow Moon has taken the base premise of SRPGs and altered it to form a more intense fast-paced feel to combat. Players use “subturns” to perform almost every action on the battlefield, whether it be moving, attacking, or using a potion. In the beginning players only have one subturn, as do most enemies. However as the game progresses, both players and enemies earn more subturns. This element adds a whole new level of strategy to combat as players must carefully consider how many subturns to use for moving and attacking and whether or not they need to save one for defending or using an item. Combat turns into an elaborate game of cat and mouse, where players and enemies try to goad each other closer so that they can strike and still have subturns left to move away or defend.

Rainbow Moon also features another welcome change to traditional SRPG rules—random encounters are completely optional. As players move throughout the world a message will appear in the lower left hand corner of the screen that depicts the number and type of enemies they have encountered. Players looking to just move on to the next area can simply ignore the message and it will go away after a short time. Players looking to do battle are thrust into combat at the push of a button. This is truly a boon because although much of Rainbow Moon is unnecessarily repetitious, at least moving about the world doesn't have to be.

Tedium blankets Rainbow Moon, casting an unfortunate shadow over the brighter elements of gameplay. As nice as it would be to skip random encounters, players soon find that they need them to level up and accumulate two types of currency. In the beginning enemies aren't so bad and players can choose to freely skip random encounters without much consequence, but once players reach the first dungeon everything changes. Enemies begin to have more subturns than players do and they also start to deal massive amounts of damage. The increase in damage and subturns proves to be, quite literally, a deadly combination. From the first dungeon on, players are constantly fighting an uphill battle unless they chose to just stop and grind out levels. However, Rainbow Moon has found a way to make an already tedious task even more so. As players gain levels they are granted a meager amount of hit points and magic points, but their other attributes such as strength and agility don't increase. Players must visit a special merchant to buy their attribute increases using “Rainbow Pearls.” Players are rewarded one pearl per enemy slain, or can buy them via microtransaction over the Playstation Network. As if to force players to buy their attribute upgrades, Rainbow Moon makes upgrading attributes absurdly expensive. Oftentimes it costs anywhere between one and thirty pearls to increase an attribute by just one point. That is, a player must slay thirty monsters to have enough pearls to buy an one point increase to an attribute. Furthermore, pearls are not shared, so each character must gather their own pearls by landing the finishing blow on an enemy.

For all its flaws, Rainbow Moon has one incredible strength—its music. The score  is absolutely stunning. Each piece has its own distinct feel and compliments the gameplay tremendously. Despite Rainbow Moon's sluggish nature, players can't help but feel uplifted as they pass from a creature-laden forest into a bustling village and the music instantly kicks in, creating a cheerful, carefree atmosphere. While the visuals do little to create any ambiance, the music does more than its fair share to craft a world that is exciting to explore, even if only to hear the next song. To be perfectly frank, it is difficult to explain how much of an impact the music of this title truly has. From the instant it's turned on to the moment the last line of the credits fades, the world  is full of memorable melodies that truly make it stand out from other downloadable titles and make it one that players should play with the volume turned way up.

Rainbow Moon is a title that is in equal parts incredibly frustrating and wholeheartedly enjoyable. Players who prefer more traditional SRPGs and expect elaborate stories and numerous classes are bound to be disappointed. On the other hand, players who love a good old fashioned grind will find plenty to keep them coming back day after day and get a lot out of Rainbow Moon ,especially considering its incredibly low asking price of fifteen dollars. Its noteworthy soundtrack and interesting take on random encounters do wonders to make up for some of its more irritating shortcomings.

6 / 10
Above Average

(6s have good ideas, but may not be executed the best. It can be enjoyable by certain circumstances or fans, but may feel shallow to most.)

Austin Smith is a gamer with a love for all things Bioware. Outside of games Austin loves table top board games along with good old fashion pen and paper RPGs. He is equal parts lover and fighter but above all he is a sender of fell beasts BACK TO THE PITS THAT SPAWNED THEM.

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