In anticipation of the sequel “Rainbow Skies” being released this year, developers SideQuest Studios and publisher eastasiasoft have re-released Rainbow Moon for current audiences on the PS4. Wearing its heart on its sleeve in showing the influences behind it, Rainbow Moon’s gameplay style returns to a simpler time of RPG rarely seen in the modern console generation. But how does the game fare four years after its initial release?While seeking out a duel between his arch-rival, our hero Baldren is transported to a strange world known as Rainbow Moon. But on arrival to this unknown land, he discovers that this incident has also brought forth waves upon waves of monsters that threaten the once peaceful land and its inhabitants. Will Baldren be able to banish the evil and find a way to warp himself back home?The first thing that stands out in Rainbow Moon is the visual style; focusing on bright and vibrant colours showcasing the peaceful land itself, and becoming reminiscent of RPG games from both the SNES and PS1 eras. The isometric top-down viewpoint further reinforces this, as well as the dialogue boxes and character and NPC sprites. The images of the characters themselves take cues from JRPG games, styled in the same way but only visible as icons in battle or in character menus.Characters and NPCs have small voice clips but no pre-recorded dialogue, which sometimes get silly (the constant ‘goodbhyyyyye’ of the Healer NPC irritated me!). The soundtrack is extremely reminiscent of classical RPGs, with overworld and encounter themes throughout. The one problem with this is while the music is quite catchy at points, it is very repetitive and begins to get grating after a while.Rainbow Moon is separated into two aspects; overworld travel and turn-based battle. On the overworld, travel is quite easy and fast; the in-world clock only progresses as you walk (which I thought was an interesting mechanic) making the world cycle through day and night as you walk. This has effects on the environment such as the ability to see and the need to use torches to continue on. Interactive points such as NPCs, items or levers/buttons are marked as a player approaches them, so things are easier to find. One of the game’s triumphs is the fact that random enemy encounters can happen in one of two ways – bumping into the visible sprite of the enemy on the overworld, or coming up as an optional encounter in the bottom left hand corner. This works so well as it gives the player the option to battle if they want to (of course some enemies block paths meaning you have to go through them regardless).The turn-based battle system is quite interesting as it makes a player think about their next move. Turns are identified at the top of the screen as to which character or enemy is next, and these can be advanced or slowed with battle effects. Each battle area is divided into a movement-square system, and every action (attacking, moving, item use, skill use, etc.) consumes a turn or sub-turn.
Battle gets interesting when there are multiple enemies on-screen; some characters such as Baldren are up-close fighters and do not have ranged attacks, whereas others like Trisha are ranged fighters and cannot attack enemies immediately next to them. Enemies will usually target the easier character to defeat, leading to defensive tactics being employed by the player.
The game also relies on a mana point system for skills, with both attacking and support skills available in battle. Some skills have the ability to be used outside of battle, and some can be used in all places. Skills can also have effects on the battles they are used in; for instance, some skills slow enemy turns or lock them in place on the battle screen, allowing for easier assault from players.One of the biggest drawbacks of the game is that it focuses very heavily on grinding, which can be frustrating to begin with. Enemies are abundant and resources are sometimes scarce, meaning consistent visits to healers or item shops for potions. Often it can be a struggle to get through certain dungeons or areas, and with the fact that items don’t stack (another annoyance) it usually means a lot of travel back and forth between healers and item shops, and enemy gatherings.Rainbow Moon does exceedingly well in bringing back the nostalgia of classic RPG games, and almost had me thinking I was back playing something on the PS1 rather than something relatively recent (and I mean that in the best way possible). Definitely a game that can easily chew up a lot of your time, however you might find yourself muting the sound or getting extremely frustrated at consistent grinding.