Rainbow Moon (PS Vita) Review
- Beautiful graphics, looks perfectly suited for the Vita console
- Intelligent combat system compliments the RPG experience wonderfully
- Subtle but effective music and sounds
- Grinding is more fun than you’d think
- This is a very large game with a lot to explore
Not so much?
- NPCs have the tendency to be a little drab and uninspired
- Some sounds are recycled across numerous NPCs
- The menu/map layouts are awkwardly constructed, especially with multiple companions
- Vita hasn’t been used to its full extent; no touch capabilities
- Pacing issues mean the story flits between compelling and unengaging
An enjoyable, sizeable RPG experience for the Vita that helps to further cement a growing belief that the console is indeed the best handheld ever made. Rainbow Moon has an engaging combat system and inviting world to explore, and its addictive self-aware grinding is made for long commutes.
SideQuest Studio’s port of its humble yet expansive strategic RPG from the PS3 to its handheld counterpart should give many Vita owners further cause to rejoice. Rainbow Moon is an immensely rewarding marathon of a videogame, one that should be consumed over no less than several weeks. To bring its bold size and ideas to the Vita (a console you’d have to argue it was more suited for) was an inspired move, especially given that the cutesy nature of it seems to fit naturally on the Vita’s screen.
Rainbow Moon is a definitive grind, but one that continues to yield fruitful rewards for the effort put in. From the very start – where you choose what difficulty you’d like along with what playing style you’d like to try – Rainbow Moon lays out its intentions to have you work to win. You enter the world of Rainbow Moon a stranger, waking up by a strange portal that seemed to have unleashed a horde of creatures from within it. As you begin to walk towards a nearby village, you meet someone who provides a piece of the puzzle and presents a narrative that’ll you infrequently focus on and explore. You quickly realise that the game’s real narrative comes from your growth and character progression, as you fight and fight and fight your way to higher levels and greater rewards.
Thank heavens then that the combat system within Rainbow Moon remains enjoyable in the long term, because it’s really what the game relies on for keeping you involved. It’s an intelligent, intuitive design which feels fresh from the off but refreshingly complex as it expands and develops. It’s turn-based, but these turns include movement along with attack and defend options. You can be fighting more than ten enemies at a time – who move around grid-based battlefields along with you like chess pieces – and the combat finds its tactical roots through the decision-making process that ties into this.
There are ranged attacks for characters that can utilise them, but most of the combat seems to come from being up close and personal: time it right, and you can use the timing of the turns (and a high-enough Speed attribute) to move towards an enemy and strike fast using either a basic attack or a mana-consuming special skill move. Skills moves take on many shapes and forms, some made for battles with others made for the world outside of them. Some skills can affect an enemy besides simply hurting them – poisoning and ‘binding’ someone to a spot can be devastating – and there’s also an element of type vs type involved, whereby extra damage can be dealt if the weapon choice is particularly effective against the entity being damaged.
Battles can be over in a handful of moves, or can last minutes, and outcomes of battles often depend on striking a balance between offence, defence, conservation of health and mana – you can use items but they take one of your turns – and forward planning. At times, the battles feel like a game within a game, and for those moments where you’re engaged in a fight, the world of Rainbow Moon is almost irrelevant.
There is the choice to largely avoid fighting when possible – after you’ve dispatched of the crop of visible enemies in an area, the only fighting to be found is through random encounters you can ignore at your leisure – but why avoid what the game does best? As you progressively upgrade your character(s) and explore, you come to realise that the game revolves around you becoming stronger so that more becomes available to you. Grinding becomes less mandatory, more necessary, and a key element of the overall experience.
If you’re not a fan of ‘the grind’, this game may not be for you. Rainbow Moon embraces the good ol’ days of RPG questing, by rooting you to the first area you come across for a few hours before slowly opening up its enormous world to you as you grind hard to become strong enough to face what you may come to encounter.
And yet, Rainbow Moon doesn’t feel altogether punishing. If anything, the greatest thrill from the game comes from finding the grind a largely rewarding experience. The story for the most part merely exists, so you’re often compelled to simply ignore it and play the exploration game. There’s potentially over 100 hours of questing to do within the game, and you can bet that the majority of that is discovery (and subsequently fighting what you discover).
Rainbow Moon is an enjoyable, sizeable RPG experience for the Vita that helps to further cement a growing belief that the console is indeed the best handheld ever made. Rainbow Moon has an engaging combat system and inviting world to explore, and its addictive self-aware grinding is made for long commutes.