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Review: Rainbow Moon (PS4) Over the moon

RPGs tend to be pretty straightforward despite the initial overload of information: you have you character/party, you progress along a fairly linear story, you battle foes along the way and level up your respective characters until you reach the end and you wonder why you’ve spent 40 hours doing the same thing over and over. I’m not the biggest fan of RPGs, though I do have my fair share of experience with decent efforts, namely BioWare’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (I recently started playing it again on Android, God save my battery).

Rainbow Moon is a fairly simple RPG by any account and after a fairly successful release on the PS3 and PS Vita, publisher EastAsiaSoft has decided to give it a lick paint on plonk it on the PS4. So, how does it fare? Is it a better experience? Is it an experience worth investing in and, more importantly, is it fun? Well, that’s what this review will hopefully tell you.

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As I mentioned before, I’m not the biggest RPG fan in the world. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a dimwit who just likes to see pretty colours and big explosions, or perhaps it’s my inability to see numbers/stats as something fun. It did take me a bit of time to actually warm to Rainbow Moon’s gameplay, though I was instantly taken in by the game’s gorgeous art direction. The game isn’t the graphical showcase of the year – nor the decade for that matter – but it’s a nice looking game nonetheless.

The game tells the story of the main character who is transported by magic or something to the place called Rainbow Moon. Pretty much on the nose, isn’t it? You’re quest is a simple one: get bloody home! Ok, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but if I go into the story, what’s the point in playing? Naturally, being an RPG, there’s more than just the main story. Along the way you’ll find folks who need a hand here and there, people who need saving, people who need favours: side quests, as we in the business call them. There’s a fair amount of them to be getting on with and they can stretch the play-time significantly if you take the time to hunt them down and complete them, though I’ll admit I’m not one for doing stuff that doesn’t directly influence the tale being told by the narrative, so I skipped as many as I could. Sorry, I’m not a good RPG player…

So, the story is a fair length that can be bolstered by the side-quests, and although the story is decent, it’s nothing to get too excited about. I can’t say that it’s terrible, but I can’t say it’s all that memorable either. Give it a few weeks and I’ll have all but forgotten the main plot points, which is in stark contrast to Knight of the Old Republic which I can still remember beat for beat more than a decade after playing it. RainbowMoon3

The real meat and potatoes of Rainbow Moon lies in its gameplay. After all, without a decent bit of gameplay, what’s the point? It starts off quite slow and requires a lot of grinding – in fact, there’s a lot of grinding throughout the game. But the start is especially painful as it’s as by-the-book as one could imagine any turn-based RPG to be. You fight enemies in a rather slow fashion and you move across the invisible board (yes, there are no bloody markers!) until you can get yourself ready to give your enemy a magical bitch slap. Rinse and repeat and you’ve got the first couple of hours of Rainbow Moon.

Thankfully it does get better, but it takes time to get there. You’ll need to take the route off the beaten path in order to level up and progress from main mission to main mission, otherwise you’ll just find yourself getting frustrated by being slaughtered over and over again. I suppose, in a way, the nature of the game’s grinding does force you to look around the game’s world. I imagine the developer put a lot of hard work into it so it seems only fair that we should take the time to have a proper nosey and enjoy what’s being presented to us.

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That said, once you do get to the sweet spot where the game stops forcing you to replay the same battles over and over, you’ll finally have some good fun. Enemies become more varied and challenging, as do your own abilities. You’ll face off against bigger and badder opponents in greater numbers, too. It’s not just the battles that get more interesting, but also the side-quests. In fact, going on a bit of a mooch between the main missions later in the game usually means you find some pretty useful stuff and friendly characters looking to give you some bonus sway. It’s not all rosy, mind, as you’ll also find new battles.

Disclaimer: This review conducted using a PS4 review code provided by the game’s distributor, EastAsiaSoft. This does not affect how we conduct our review. For more information please see our Review Policy.