Rainbow Moon is downloadable turn-based tactics RPG from German developer SideQuest Studios. You play as Baldren, a hero attempting to return to his home after his nemesis Namoris sent him through a mysterious portal.
The gameplay in Rainbow Moon is very standard for the genre, though it has some tweaks that both enhance and inhibit the player’s enjoyment. Unlike other tactics games you don’t simply spawn off into a mission. Instead, you travel around a map, much like you would in a traditional JRPG, with your lead character while encountering enemies and performing quests. When you do engage in battle the game turns into a fairly standard grid based tactics game. You move your characters around each turn and each character has a certain number of or sub-turns that determines how many actions they can perform. All your characters gain an equal amount of experience from a fight, but the character that landed the killing blow on an enemy also gains Rainbow Pearls. These can be used to upgrade specific stats, which let you focus on a character’s particular strength or counter a weakness.
One of the nice things about the game is that there are no random battles. You can choose to encounter a random mob, which speeds travel while giving you the option of grinding should you require additional experience. There are still some enemies that need to be encountered and defeated, but they are clearly identified in the world by enemy models. The game also handles defeat well by simply placing you right next to the enemy that just defeated you, reviving your main character with one health point, and freezing all enemies in the world for a short period of time. Yet while these features that enhance the ease with which you play the game, they make some of the other choices SideQuest made seem somewhat strange.
Over time your characters become both hungry and thirsty, and you need to buy food and drink to keep them in top fighting shape. You also need to carry torches in dungeons and during the night in order to have maximum visibility. To further complicate matters vendors are closed during certain parts of the day, preventing you from buying these items. These systems, combined with the high prices that healers charge, serve to largely bankrupt your party. Overall it seems like a bizarre decision to make. In a game like Skyrim or Fallout, games that strive in many ways to be grounded in realism, such features would make sense, but in a cartoony and silly tactics game they just seem silly and annoying.
Technically Rainbow Moon is fine. Everything is rendered with appropriate detail and clarity, and the game runs very well. My real problem is with the art which is a cross between generic fantasy and Xbox Live Avatars, which doesn’t click with me at all. There is still a decent sense of humor and life to the world and it’s probably for the best that it’s not another anime fantasy game, but it doesn’t change the fact that I found the art unappealing. The music is the highlight of the game’s presentation. It’s not amazing, but it’s still fairly solid and compliments the game’s look very well.
The biggest issue I had with Rainbow Moon was that I quickly grew bored of it. Without any real story, characters, or art to grab my attention I was forced into a monotonous grind. Eventually I turned off the volume and started listening to podcasts as the gameplay was so repetitive and required little attention. I got around thirteen hours through the twenty five hour main quest, before deciding that there was nothing more to see in the game that would affect the outcome of my review. I did not hate my time with Rainbow Moon, and there were moments of excitement when I succeeded in defeating a difficult encounter or leveled up my characters, but ultimately this wasn’t enough to hold my interest.
Rainbow Moon is not a bad game, but it’s not a particularly good one either. It has a few nice tweaks to circumvent some of the frustrations of JRPG’s and tactics games, but it adds some new frustrations of its own. When this is combined with an art style that I didn’t care for, lack of story, and very standard gameplay, I can only recommend this game to a serious fan of the genre.