Monday, February 15, 2016

Rainbow Moon (PS4)

Yesterday, while doing my usual Twitter interactions I saw eastasiasoft tweet a quoted message that I feel is very relevant to gamers, and the developers who are reaching out to said gamers. Their tweet basically tied in with the fact that Capcom's 'Street Fighter V' will be coming out the same day that their 'Rainbow Moon" port will. That is definitely a big game to go up against, and I think in light of their sporting remark they realized this too. I personally feel that indies are often times looked over due to such release scheduling, and there's no doubt in my mind that SFV will be stealing away a lot of attention from such indie experiences for some time to come. With that being said though 'Rainbow Moon' does hold it's own as a quality tactical RPG, and presents to the gamer a unique take on the genre as well. I'm just hoping that some of you out there will give it a chance before getting lost in other gaming activities, and PSN store offerings this week. If you do you may find as I did that indies such as 'Rainbow Moon' can sometimes be of more value than what 'Triple A' titles are.

Rainbow Moon, for those of you who are unaware is an TRPG (Tactical Role-Playing Game) with a simple plot, and an interesting setup. At heart it follows the story of a warrior named 'Baldren' and an event known as the "Duel of Namoris'. When the opening credits, and cutscene come into play we see Baldren wandering into the Ellje Woods in search for some fabled portals. Upon finding them he is stunned by the portal's beauty, and succumbs to a magical attack directed at him from Namoris himself. Namoris ultimately pushes Baldren through the portal with a hex, and along with him an army of monsters. On the other side, and in another world (or moon) Baldren awakes, and journeys onward to find answers. Through the villagers, and monster encounters he grows ever closer to facing off against his nemesis once again.

Past this intro, or prior to it (I forget which) you will be prompted to select a difficulty (Normal / Hard), and a 'Play Style'. While the difficulty settings are fairly self-explanatory the "Play Styles" are a little less so. With each play style comes some initial starting perks that range from free items, and gear to in-game currency. You'll find in place the 'Careful and Secured" option which is a play style geared towards beginners. With it all of your characters get starting equipment making the playthrough a little easier to deal with. The second play style option called "Well Supported" will gift the gamer 4 Rainbow coins with which to buy gear, or items. Next up is the "Forward looking" play style which gifts the gamer a survival kit filled with potions, torches, and few other helpful items. Lastly "Adventuresome" gives the gamer absolutely nothing. The only perk that comes with playing this last play style is the chance at a rumored hidden item. Whatever you choose in the way of play styles just realize that you'll either start off with a slight advantage, or none at all depending on your choice. It's not really a difficulty setting, but more so a way to challenge yourself at playing the game differently.

Once you get into the game you will immediately be prompted to test things out such as the map, and character menus. Tutorials, and the initial menu prompts become available for a variety of different reasons in Rainbow Moon during it's introductory level. Talking to villagers, or persons of interests will usually bring up a tutorial as will using items, and doing certain things. When it comes to the gameplay you'll find that 'Rainbow Moon' is oddly reminiscent of the older RPGs done up by Square Enix, and Nintendo in the NES/SNES/Playstation era, but that it has it's own unique 3D art style, gameplay, and story included. The world is semi-overhead in perspective, and houses everything that makes a fantasy world a viable playground for battles and storytelling. Through the map menu, which you are prompted to access early on, you will be able to see points of interest tied to the two different types of in-game quests. There are 'Main Quests' pinpointed on the map which drive the story forward, and 'Side Quests' which are optional but rewarding. Both of the quest types are marked on the map menu (SQUARE) in their own unique ways for easy reference, and guidance. In order to obtain quests your character, which can be named anything at the start, will have to interact with villagers who have an exclamation mark above their head. These individuals will usually ask something of you, and send you on an errand to obtain whatever it is that they need. The only thing standing between you, and said goals are the monsters, and the weekly/daily cycle of time change.

In 'Rainbow Moon' the world is governed by a clock of sorts that takes in account worldly events as well as the week, and time of day. As with most RPGs that use such a time oriented mechanic you'll find that certain things become available, or unavailable at different parts of the day, and night. When the night falls, and you are out doing your thing the darkness will engulf your character making monsters harder to see, and your pathway even less so. Along with the growing darkness the villagers which are spread about the world will close shop leaving you with only two viable options. Those options are to find a campfire, and camp until the morning comes back around, or to use a torch item to light your way temporarily. Camping also doubles as a way to regain health, and mana for skills, so camping when it's convenient will keep you from having to spend gold.

In the way of shops you'll find vendors such as a 'Healer', 'Item' shop owner, and a 'Savant'. The 'Healer' offers restorative services for Rainbow Coins which are dropped from the monsters you'll be doing battle with. The 'Item' shop owner, on the other hand offers up items ranging from restorative potions to skills, and even gear. As far as the 'Savant' goes he is a vendor, or shop owner that takes Rainbow Pearls (also earned from monster battles) to increase your character/s attributes. Things like 'Strength', 'Defense', 'Luck', 'HP', and 'MP' can be upgraded for a price making your character/s a more formidable opponent.

When it comes to battle in 'Rainbow Moon' the fight is simple yet odd in some respects. By running into an enemy avatar out in the world of Rainbow Moon you will encounter the type of enemies, and number of said types that are shown as you draw close to them. Once in battle you'll have a list of commands that can be used in a Tactical RPG fashion. The usual 'Attack', 'Defend', 'Skills', 'Move', and 'Items' option will be available for your choosing. Before you can engage in combat though you must first use the 'Move' command to position yourself next to a monster, or monsters. Sometimes you'll even need to strategically place yourself so multiple monsters can't all attack you at once. To move you'll first select the command of the same name, and then use the DPad's cardinal directions to move your character/s to your place of choosing. Once you move next to an enemy, or an enemy moves next to you, you will be able to use the 'Attack', 'Skills', 'Defend', or 'Items' commands. As with the 'Move' option you'll also need to press the appropriate DPad direction in order to administer the 'Attack', or 'Skills'. Just know that your character has a certain amount of HP (hit points), and that once those are depleted you'll be returned to the world area with 1 HP intact. Depending on where you are this could leave you at a huge disadvantage. It should also be noted that battle is turn based, meaning that both you, and the monsters will be alternating turns until the battle is won, or lost.

As you continue progressing, and fulfilling quests you will gain more allies which can be used in battle alongside your main character. To switch between them you'll simply need to press the "L2/R2" button during your turn, and follow-up with an action, or command of your choosing. When it comes to making your way through the world of 'Rainbow Moon' it's all about survival. Minding the days, and nights as well as your food and water intake is a must if you aim to complete the game. Making use of the village shops, the campfires, and the items you can find scattered around the world in treasure chests will also help you make it far so that you can find out how things end. For those of you looking for features outside of the core experience "Network Shop" is also available as an option within the game. It allows the player to upload their player stats to the Rainbow Moon server, and share said stats with friends. Along with the uploading, and sharing capabilities you'll also be able to tell what your current shop level is. The higher the shop level the better, and more plentiful the items are that will be offered up for sale. The world of Rainbow Moon definitely contains a lot to look at, and do. Whether or not you speed run the game to completion, or do all of the side quests is up to you though.

Now the Verdict ...

Rainbow Moon definitely has an indie appearance, and feel about it. It seems unique in comparison to other tactical RPGs in an innovative indie sense, and delivers well in the way of mechanics. To me the game felt objectively different in that your goals take you deeper, and deeper into the world as you mind the time of day, and other decisive factors that are at play. It's definitely a game about survival in that respect. I think the world is nicely rendered in the 3D art style that 'SideQuest Studios presented it in as well. It's not something you'd expect from someone like Square Enix, or NISA, but it's effective in helping to create it's own immersive atmosphere. The unique gameplay, graphics, and even the sound come together quite nicely. As far as complaints go I did find the DPad actions in battle to be a little confusing at times due to the flashing DPad indicators. Thankfully there is a way to change the map perspective in the game. Simply pressing (TRIANGLE) in battle will change the point of view to a more centered one. Speaking of that it's definitely important to pay attention to the tutorials. For those of you who might click through them carelessly just know you can bring them back up in character menu (TRIANGLE) along with all the other character related menu options. 

Now for the verdict ... Going into this review I did notice something on the internet stating that previous 'Rainbow Moon' owners can get the PS4 version at 50% off. I would have thought it to be a cross-buy deal, but that doesn't seem to be the case. As such the only gamers I can really recommend this to are those of you who have never played the game before, or those who wish to stream their progress from the PS4 using their cross-save progress (Yes, there is a cross-save option for previous PS Vita & PS3 owners if you wish to take advantage of it). If I happen to be wrong about the cross-buy pricing then I think it would be alright for anyone looking to experience it on the PS4 platform. It's not a bad game, and I personally think it is worthy of the asking price. All that I ask is that you at least give the demo a try, if there is one.

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