Rainbow Moon Review (PS Vita)

Rainbow Moon isn’t a new release. SideQuest Studios made the title available on PS3 in July 2012, but it has only recently arrived on the Vita, with the difference being the availability of Cross Saves and running at 60FPS. I’m a big fan of RPGs so I was excited to see a lengthy one arrive on the Vita. I think the best way to describe Rainbow Moon is it is a technically brilliant game let down by a poor story.

When starting Rainbow Moon you can choose between a normal or hard difficulty setting, which is then coupled with one of four playing styles that you must choose from.

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Careful & Secured is the easiest path with all characters receiving equipment. Well Supported players receive some Rainbow Coins (in game currency). The Forward Looking choice gives players some potions, torches and other items, while the Adventuresome choice gives you nothing but a weapon. I decided to go for the final choice to truly immerse myself in the game world.

What a world it is with the visuals being reminiscent of classic RPGs such as Final Fantasy Tactics but much more defined with so much colour present on the Vita screen. Character and enemy design have had a lot of work put into them, as have the battle animations which all look good. Your characters appearance also changes as they are equipped with new equipment and armour.

The battle system itself is a grid style one, where each character has a set number of moves, which increase as you level up, to move around the battle grid, use an item, a skill or attack an enemy. There is also an option to defend which immediately ends that character’s turn.

This system has been implemented very well into the game, encouraging tactical thinking. In a way it felt a bit like playing chess, though characters could move anywhere on the board and could attack more than once if they had extra turns, or were quicker than the enemy.

There isn’t a set turn order as such when it comes to battles as the Speed attribute of a character comes into play. There could be times when you come up against a slower, weaker enemy allowing your character to have two goes at once, or the opposite is true where a higher level enemy has more turns than you do, and has stronger attacks.

Of course, characters have other attributes such as Strength, which affects the power of attacks, Luck affects the chance of critical hits, while Defense increases your resilience to enemy attacks. You can also raise your health points and mana points.

Attacks can be carried out in two main ways, through either using the normal attack command, or using Skills which are fueled by mana. Skills have to be bought from merchants, though you can discover some in the wild, and these attacks are generally more powerful than standard attacks, with the added bonus of casting negative effects such as bound, which stops an enemy from moving around the grid.

Your attributes don’t automatically increase as your level does. Instead, the limit to where you can upgrade to does. The way attributes are increased is through items called Rainbow Pearls which are awarded to characters after battles. You must then visit a Savant who converts these pearls into extra points for whichever attribute you want increased, though each comes with a different cost.

Again this makes you think tactically as you consider whether it is worth using 15 pearls to add one health point, or using the same amount to raise your Luck to the maximum it can go. These decisions will be directly impacted by the quests you face and the enemy types that appear, as their own attributes counter your own.

Micro-management of resources is key to winning the tougher battles and it is advisable to have as many health potions and mana herbs before entering new areas, as enemies here are almost always stronger than you at first. If you do lose a battle you can either respawn near the battle with just one HP or travel back to a portal on the map.

The game can easily span over 100 hundred hours in length partly due to the number of quests, but mostly due to the amount of work needed to be done for the majority of tasks, be it finding some materials or slaying a large monster. Yes, Rainbow Moon emphasises the need to grind for rewards.

Nine times out of ten you will not defeat a boss the first time you encounter one, so you’ll have to stay in a nearby area and engage in random encounters to slowly improve your character’s stats and equipment. Unlike most RPGs the random encounters are entirely optional, with a notification appearing on screen informing you of a battle close by and which enemies will be involved. I liked this system as it allowed you to move past fights that wouldn’t reward you with much XP for ones with bigger rewards.

I honestly don’t mind grinding when it comes to RPGs, but I can definitely understand the frustration some feel when it comes to remaining in an area for maybe an hour or two when you just want to move forward. I felt like that a couple of times because it just seemed repetitive, with side quests not providing that much variation.

What that turns a good RPG into a great RPG is the story, but Rainbow Moon’s isn’t all that interesting even though there is major potential there. The story begins with Baldren the main protagonist, who you can rename if you wish, being pushed into a portal by his nemesis Namoris. Baldren ends up in a new world because of this portal, which looks a bit like a Stargate, and tries to find his way home.

The thing is that, if after several hours there hasn’t been a major plot advancement, you have an issue with pacing. Many of the main quest plots felt like they belonged in side quests, like finding someone a comb. There has to be some incentive to keep going on, bar getting better loot.

What’s Good:

  • Visually a good looking game.
  • The battle system is great and simple to use.
  • Micro-management of items is easy.
  • Random encounters entirely optional.

What’s Bad:

  • If you don’t like grinding in games this isn’t for you.
  • Story pacing is not good, and narrative uninteresting.

Rainbow Moon is a bit of a tough one to score because this purely rests on if you’re a fan of tough RPGs where you’ll grind for hours, or if you want something that moves forward relatively smoothly. The game certainly provides value for money, given how long it can last. As I said SideQuest has created a game that ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the technical and execution side of things, but the story pacing isn’t good, and something I hope the studio got right for Rainbow Skies.

7/10

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14 Comments

  1. The game LOOKS great, but I’m time poor and my backlog is getting ludicrous – so this sentence was important for me:

    “Rainbow Moon is a bit of a tough one to score because this purely rests on if you’re a fan of tough RPGs where you’ll grind for hours, or if you want something that moves forward relatively smoothly. ”

    Thanks for being honest, I’m going to have to (unfortunately) give this a miss.

    • Same here, time is a huge factor for picking up games for me lately. I already have P4: The Golden waiting while I try to relieve my backlog on the ps3 a little before moving onto nba2k14, ac iv and lego marvel on the ps4. Add to that all the PS Plus games… No time for a grind-greedy RPG.

      • + I think I used up my quota of patience for grinding for a while thanks to the many hours I spent in Dragon Quest IX and when that quota opens up, it’ll go to Ni no Kuni, finally.

  2. I’d love another pop at an RPG. I’ve only played and completed FFVII to date. Anyone reccommend a good one on Vita?

  3. Definitely not a game for those not willing or able to put the time into it. But if you’ve got the time for it, it’s worth it.

    The battles are lots of fun, and it never felt like annoying grinding. Any new area is going to be a bit of a challenge to start with (unless you’ve been rushing through things and you’re nowhere near prepared enough), and then you soon get strong enough. You get that feeling that you’re actually getting stronger and previously tricky foes are soon falling easily.

    In these days of “action” RPGs, something turn based and more strategic is to be encouraged. Even if the story is a bit “meh”. Got quite addicted to the PS3 version last year (and even got the Platinum trophy, which takes at least 100 hours, since one of the trophies was to play for 100 hours)

    Oh, and I’m sure the “adventuresome” choice has an extra benefit later on. You don’t get any bonus to start with, but you get some money later. I think. It was a while ago I played it.

    Shame you don’t get the Vita version if you own the PS3 version, or I’d have another go at it. (Supposed to be half price if you own the PS3 version though). Guess I’ll just have to wait for Rainbow Skies instead.

  4. Also, the PS3 version is on sale for a little bit longer (sale ends today). £3.41 with the PS+ discount. Which should then get you the 50% off the £9.99 Vita version. Which saves you £1.59 in all. Bargain ;)

    • Wait there what? Lol. If I buy the ps3 version, how much will it cost me on vita?

      • The PS3 version is (for some very limited time) just £3.41 with a PS+ discount. The Vita version should be £4.99 later today if you own the PS3 version.

        So if you want the Vita version that normally costs £9.99, you can get it for £8.40. I think. If you buy the PS3 version very quickly before that sale ends.

        A saving of £1.59 compared to just buying the Vita version.

        Actually, it’s a saving of £11.58, because you get both versions which normally cost £9.99 each.

        But there’s a 20% PS+ discount on the Vita version when it’s released. Making it £7.99. Hmm, that makes it cheaper that way, doesn’t it?

        Ok, it’s cheap if you want both version. But if you want the Vita version, it’s cheaper to just buy that later today. If you’ve got PS+. If you haven’t, it’s cheaper to buy the PS3 version now, before the sale ends, and then get the Vita version for half price. £3.79 in the sale without PS+, and then £4.99 for the Vita version, making £8.78. Saving you a whole £1.21.

        Or just go and buy either or both version for whatever price you can find. The game’s definitely worth a go. Even if the various sales and discounts have totally confused the pricing situation.

        It’s anything up to £9.99 for either version! That’s 100+ hours of fun for less than £10. A bargain, surely?

      • Lol u made this complicated but I get you now,

      • I didn’t make it complicated! The prices and all the combinations of special offers are not my fault.

        It’s quite simple. If you want both versions or you somehow don’t have PS+, buy the PS3 version right now while it’s cheap.

        If you just want the Vita version and you’ve got PS+, no rush, just buy it later (but before 20% off PS+ offer expires).

        There. I’ve made it simple. I think.

        English isn’t my first language. Unfortunately, it’s the only one I know, which is a bit of a bugger sometimes. ;)

      • Your English is good!

        But I just bought the ps3 version now anyway, I won’t ever play it but I want it cheap on vita

      • Yay, and other similar words!

        And I should hope my English is good. When I say it’s not my first language, what I really mean is my first language is a sort of mumbling grunty sweary thing. Which doesn’t come across well online. Even though the internet is the cause of at least 50% of my swearing. So many obvious targets for it.

        Enjoy the game though. And remember, the most important thing in the game (especially later on) is to be able to hit things first, before they hit you.

  5. Even though I have a massive backlog of games that just keeps on getting bigger and bigger, I’m a sucker for RPG’s so I can’t resist buying this.

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