Imagine you’re on your way to your annual duel with your arch-enemy; everything is playing out like a normal day as you walk along… until you get attacked by said enemy out of nowhere. Moments later you are sucked into a portal, only to find yourself in a strange, unknown world. This unknown world is in grave danger and you’re the only person that can save it.
I think you can best describe Rainbow Moon as an offline version of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with a huge (and I mean huge) over-world. Taken for granted, it isn’t Skyrim huge – though it can take up to several in-game days to travel from one city/dungeon to another. To compliment and accentuate this time aspect, there’s also an active day-night cycle. This time cycle has reign over several aspects of the game – some enemies may only appear at certain times of the day, as well as others who are stronger at certain times. The game also has a food/energy system you must take heed of, as it deploys as you walk and can only be “fed” when you are – with food items. All of this ties back into the time aspect, so make sure you pay attention to your situation as time progresses.
Monsters are generally shown on the map and you automatically enter a fight as soon as you touch them, though there are some randomized monster elements as well. Now and then you will get a small pop up that there are enemies you can fight, to which you can either ignore or accept. If you choose to enter the fight you will transported in to an arena where the fight will take place.
The battle style in Rainbow Moon is very strategic; it’s basically a round-based role-playing game in that regard. Each character has a set number of choices per turn; everything you do will take at least one choice and if all of them are used the turn will end and next character or enemy will begin choosing their actions. At the start of the story you will only have one choice per turn, but this will change fairly soon as you earn more through skill upgrades. This system can be rather slow in the beginning (and for the lack of a better word – lame), but this too will change quickly as the enemies get stronger and your party starts to grow.
After each fight you will get gold, experience points and moon pearls – don’t be sad if you lose though, you will start again at the position where the fight began. Be aware however, as on “spawn” your main character will only have a single hit point and all other non-player characters will be dead. At this point, you’ll either have to use your heal items or walk to a doctor and fork over some money. You could also use one of the many camping places in the world to recover your HP and MP (mana points), though this won’t do anything towards reviving your fallen companions. MP renewing items are a whole different story, especially in the beginning as you will never have enough of them. You have to really pay attention as to when to camp though, as it’s only possible once per day.
Moon pearls are improve your stats by redeeming them with certain non-player characters, which is pretty much the only way to actually get stronger. Leveling by the usual RPG method can get very grind-intensive, so be prepared if you’re going to attempt that route. A more minor way to improve your stats is through use of the extensive crafting system. You will find all kinds of “crap” during your travels which you can use to craft armor, weapons and other useful stuff to help along the way. Be aware however, as there’s a limit to how many items you can carry at a time. Materials are always capped at 250, and all others (save for key items) are capped at 10 in the beginning – but those bars can be raised by scrolls, which you can either buy or find out in the world.
Another thing the scrolls can offer is a new skill. Unlike in most RPGs, you don’t learn new skills by a simple level up; you have to learn them from a scroll. At first new skills are rather weak, but they level up with usage in-game. Skills are separated into battle-only, map-only and both. A map-only skill for example can only be used on the map, not in fights; vice-versa with battle-only skills.
Now onto the story, which is based on quests. Quests range from deliver item “x” to rescue person “y”. Much like in typical MMORPGs, the quests are separated into main quests and side quests. If you should ever forget what your current quests are you can always check them in the menu under “book”. In this sub-menu you will also find information about any of the characters and monsters you’ve met along the way.
There’s also a sub-menu called “equip” which lets you choose armor and weapons for your character. A nice little detail to go with this is that the world map avatar looks different with different items selected.
Something I quite liked that also deserves a brief mention is the auto-pause function. This feature pauses the game when it hasn’t been touched for a few minutes, and is something I think more game should implement.
Graphically, Rainbow Moon isn’t the best looking game on the Vita, but it still looks great even if you won’t always see where you can walk to and where you can’t. This is something that was really getting on my nerves while playing it, as it would have been so easy to fix.
I think we can agree that graphics aren’t the only thing that makes a game a good one, the music can be just as important. I really like the music, from the battle to the dungeon music everything works in the situation that it plays in.
SideQuest studios have made an attempt at a massive strategic role-playing game, complimented by strong game-play, a likable sound track and a charming art style. It’s already the perfect game for role-playing fans and people who like to grind out in-game item collections across consoles (it has cross-save, after all).
It’s also worth noting that while the content Rainbow Moon offers right now is already rather large, they also seem to be planning DLC as you can find a link to the PlayStation Network in the game. Might be something to look for in the future, though we’re sure this game will give you nothing less than your money’s worth as-is. Beware of hard mode though, as the game scales in difficulty quite tremendously.