The radars of those RPGamers looking for more tactical PS3 action are likely to be on high alert with the upcoming release of Rainbow Moon. Created by SideQuest Studios, developer of the acclaimed Söldner-X games, Rainbow Moon promises an entertaining and challenging strategy RPG experience at a price unlikely to break any banks. It may not introduce anything mind-blowingly new in terms of gameplay mechanics, but a concentration on keeping things entertaining with some vibrant visuals should result in plenty of enjoyment.
"A colourful world that is home to a great deal of variation and character awaits players."
Rainbow Moon follows the adventures of Baldren, transported to the titular planet following an encounter with his arch-nemesis. He finds that he has opened a gate to another dimension, through which vast numbers of monsters have escaped and are now causing carnage throughout Rainbow Moon. Unsurprisingly, the residents of Rainbow Moon are less than impressed with Baldren, who must now seal the gate and find a way home. In order to carry out this task, he must first create a special staff using rare items that can be found in the depths of Rainbow Moon's dungeons. It has been stated that the story isn't particularly deep, but SideQuest Studios has tried to keep things entertaining with short, snappy NPC dialogue. However, the primary focus has been to keep players involved through the visuals and gameplay rather than an epic plot.
The cartoony visuals are Rainbow Moon's most immediately striking feature. A colourful world that is home to a great deal of variation and character awaits players, with exaggerated proportions of characters and buildings that should serve to further the cartoon theme and keep players in a more uplifted, ready-to-be-entertained mood. Battle effects are suitably flashy and the animation seems crisp with plenty of little touches that should bring further life to the setting. Monsters and characters are also nicely varied, and it has been confirmed that character models will change to fully reflect their current equipment.
Battles in Rainbow Moon follow the turn-based strategy RPG template, complete with gridded battlefield. Players enter battle by touching an enemy on the field, and can deploy up to three combatants at once. SideQuest Studios has stated that all random encounters are completely optional, and that players can choose to escape any battle in the game with a 100% success rate. Each encounter takes place on a dedicated map, with a grand total of over a hundred and fifty maps for all terrains and locations in the game. Players will be able to choose from a number of deployment formations, allowing them to plan more strategically and make better use of their skills.
Each character has the expected options of attacking, defending, and using skills or items, as well as changing equipment and checking their status. In addition to a standard experienced-based levelling system, attributes can be further upgraded at shops by trading in Rainbow Pearls earned from battle. It is also possible to for players to raise the levels of characters' various skills with enough usage of said skill. Enemies have access to a number of extra tactics against players, including the ability to split apart or merge together. Indications are that a large number of enemies are likely to be involved in each fight, and that Rainbow Moon should provide players with plenty of stern challenges. While the battle system seems fairly standard, SideQuest Studios is confident the entertainment factor will be enough to encourage players to spend plenty of time with Rainbow Moon.
The game contains over twenty expansive dungeons for players to explore. These dungeons are home to plenty of puzzles, battlefields with special effects, and challenging bosses lying in wait. In addition to on-foot exploration, players will be able to use a raft to sail Rainbow Moon's shallows, and SideQuest Studios has hinted at another currently unannounced transport method hidden within the game. A number of towns and villages exist on Rainbow Moon, where players can rest and purchase new equipment and items.
Rainbow Moon takes some inspiration from old-school dungeon crawlers by including a food system. Each character has a "food bar" that decreases has time passes in the game, as shown by a clock in the top-right corner. Once the bar drops below a certain point, characters are afflicted by a "hungry" status. This status acts as a warning, for when the bar is empty the character takes constant damage. The bar can be refilled by resting in a tavern or consuming food items, which can be found as loot, bought from merchants, or created using a special skill.
The game contains plenty of optional content, with a large number of sidequests, dungeons, and treasures for players to investigate, all of which remain available even after the main story is completed. Players have been told to expect around forty hours to complete the main story, which features two difficulty levels and a very large amount of end-game content in lieu of a New Game+ mode. Trophy collectors will also be pleased to learn the game has full platinum trophy support.
SideQuest Studios' take on the classical strategy RPG feel should be able to provide the genre's fans with plenty of enjoyment. At this stage success appears mostly dependent on whether or not the game can manage to elicit the same charm that has brought massive success to developers like NIS, but there are plenty of positives on offer at this stage, and a low planned price point of $15 (although still unconfirmed) should be an attractive proposition. Rainbow Moon does not currently have an exact release date, but the latest news is that the game is currently slated for release as a PSN download in June/July 2012.