Are you sick of all those dragons that continually stick their noses into your RPGs? If youâ€™ve had enough of fully realised open 3D worlds, epic set pieces, and million dollar trailers designed to grab the headlines at E3; if you have always felt, deep down in your heart, that top down isometric views and turn based combat are the only way to really experience dungeon crawling; Rainbow Moon is for you.
Even if youâ€™re not a retro / classic / old school gamer, Rainbow Moon, the new take on old style RPGs, is so packed with gaming goodness that you too might think 8 (or at the most, 16) bits are enough. That said, coming in at almost 2 gigabytes, the game is fully realised, fully HD, and damn nice to look at. Not only are the graphics exactly right, itâ€™s all bathed in a restrained palette of ambient sounds and topped with a classy, and classic, theme. Put simply, Rainbow Moon is good.
Not that thereâ€™s much to the story. Youâ€™re Baldren and you get tossed through a vortex to Rainbow Moon. Along with you goes all kinds of bugs, undead, and laser shooting robot things. What follows is a lot of searching, making friends, fighting enemies, and getting home. However, setting up the story does not come close to doing the game justice. Itâ€™s big (the world), itâ€™s complex (the combat system), and itâ€™s deep (the upgrading and levelling). Thereâ€™s so much going on in Rainbow Moon, itâ€™s hard to know where to start.
Once you begin playing, the game takes hold with its wonderfully tactical battles. At various preset locations, usually blocking a path or doorway, some kind of monster will be waiting. If youâ€™re not feeling up to it, you can skirt around and try to hunt down all the levers and treasure chests hidden on each map. Eventually, though, you will have to fight and, to do this, all you have to do is walk up to the beastie and the fight begins.
You and your crew, as well the enemies - which could number twenty or thirty - are warped to a battle grid. To begin with it might just be Baldren and long-range specialist Trisha against a couple of skeletons and a giant bee. Each character gets their turn to act within a round, with each having a set number of moves within their turn. So when itâ€™s his turn, Baldren might use his three moves to cast haste on Trisha. Move one square forward. And attack a skeleton. Trisha, with only two moves per round, might move back to keep some distance between her and the skeleton, before launching a volley of fiery arrows at the bee.
As you progress, and the number of combatants grow, the battles become very complex. With every type of monster, as well as every ally, having their own strengths, weaknesses, long and short range attacks, as well as different defensive abilities, and area attacks. With health potions being quaffed to combat the different potions, and spells being cast, as well as cool animations for every high-powered special strike, Rainbow Moon makes turn based combat dynamic, tactical, and a total blast.
When you win you get a few potions, coins, and various bits and pieces to either use to upgrade your armour or sell at the various shops. Whoever manages to land the final blow on an enemy also earns pearls which can be used to raise a characterâ€™s stats. Itâ€™s a very deep and satisfying levelling system. Even if, after ten hours of play and feeling very satisfied that youâ€™ve reached level fifteen, you notice that the gold trophy is awarded at level 500.
No, you wonâ€™t be maxing out your characters by just playing through the forty hour plus story, youâ€™ll be grinding from here till Christmas. Which is an awesome thought considering all those downloadable games, even the very good ones, that often are clocked in a week and never played again.
While there is a lot to like about Rainbow Moon, if you try you can find a few faults. For example, in combat itâ€™s far too easy to use up your last turn stepping back onto the square you just left, instead of unleashing a devastating multi-directional attack. And thereâ€™s no chance to get that last move back. Also, even though the map is perfectly in tune with the gameâ€™s retro aesthetic, itâ€™s annoying and difficult to decipher. There are just too many dots, and not enough map, for this adventurer.
Even though Rainbow Moon does push the retro adventuring vibe, it is an absolute joy to play. If you played RPGs in the 1990s, developers SideQuest Studios have made a game for you. If youâ€™ve never played an isometric strategic RPG before, itâ€™s still a game for you. In fact, everyone should play Rainbow Moon.