Title: Rainbow Billy: the Curse of the Leviathan
Developer: ManaVoid entertainment
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Skybound Entertainment
It can be a real challenge to find games that might appeal to younger and older gamers alike. Unfortunately, sometimes when developers attempt this, it tends to cater to children over older gamers. Rainbow Billy: the Curse of the Leviathan by developer ManaVoid Entertainment and publisher Skybound Games luckily strays away from this by including cute, wholesome characters along with interesting and deceptively deep gameplay. The result is an engaging RPG that can appeal to newer and veteran gamers alike.
Rainbow Billy: the Curse of the Leviathan starts with the shy Billy gathering fireworks for the island festival. When the town is in full celebration mode, the leviathan spoils the party by draining most of the world of its color. This transforms characters into monstrous manifestations based on their most insecure and toxic traits. It’s up to Billy, along with his friends, a tugboat, and the magical fishing rod Rodrigo to save the land and turn its inhabitants back to their usual selves.
The gameplay sees you traverse a water world full of desaturated islands. You’re limited on your exploration, though, as you can only travel as far as your rainbow fuel allows. Once you run out, you are taken back to your original starting point. At the same time, you have options to travel any direction you want because of your fuel Rainbow Billy helps guide. For those that can find some overworlds overwhelming, it makes your journey reasonably straightforward. Once you reach islands, you can transform monsters bringing color back to those sections and adding fuel to your boat. It’s a neat travel system, and with the addition of quick travel for any island, you bring color back to travel is a breeze.
When you encounter a black and white monster, Billy is taken to a turn-based battle screen. On this screen, instead of a traditional attack, you are given the option to listen or talk. Listening to your opponent will allow them to reveal their issues so you can understand what their plight is. When you then chose the talk option, you are given three different choices of dialogue. One is the best choice and most helpful to your monster, another is understanding but doesn’t quite connect as strongly, and the third is dismissive and the least constructive.
Above your opposition’s head are several question marks that reveal symbols the more you talk to them. The more accepting your communication, the more symbols are shown. These symbols match with various team member’s non-violent actions. When a character is played according to the symbol, they must accomplish a mini-game to fulfill the symbol requirements. Once the symbols are filled over the opponent’s head, they gain their original colorful form and join your team.
Mini-games vary from quick-time events to a breakout-style gameplay. You can tell what each mini-game will be from an icon above associated with the character you’re using. You can also use allies in combination, but doing so makes the mini-game you must complete escalate in difficulty. At any point, you can end your turn if you don’t want to unnecessarily add to your challenge. Timed events aren’t super uncommon in turn-based RPGs, but they are relatively engaging here, and even with the stacked difficulty, they’re never overly tricky.
In combination with these events, each character has a special ability you can utilize. Adding to your choice of who to play first, some character’s powers can only be used when they are played first, forcing you to prioritize your available skills. I found that this surprisingly could add way more complexity to strategizing for attacks. I personally only memorized a few character’s abilities, like one that helps you regain health when played or another that reveals a symbol above your opponent. But there is a lot that could be explored and used for those looking to dive in.
The idea of communicating instead of fighting is handled well here as well. I was worried the concept might come across too sappy if executed poorly, but thankfully the whimsical dialogue and the varying forms of struggles made for a pretty effective experience. Choosing the most successful dialogue option during these moments may seem a bit obvious, but there are moments when dialogue can feel a bit more ambiguous. I wish this had been explored a bit more, as having some of these confrontations being less cut and dry certainly adds to the tension. I chose the worst option a handful of times, and in those moments, it immediately ended the battle. Still, the battle system is one I thoroughly enjoyed and was more profound than I expected.
You can even strengthen bonds with your friends by acquiring specific gifts they ask for. These can be obtained at sea through a fishing game with Rodrigo. Puzzles also pop up on islands, and while again neither are extremely difficult, they may force players to pause and think things out for a bit more importantly though both parts are pretty addicting and fun.
Rainbow Billy: the Curse of the Leviathan has a highly appealing art style and character designs. Most characters look like early Fleischer cartoons and are flat 2D shapes set against a 3D background. Sweet melodic tunes and the adorable vocal gibberish characters speak also add a lot of personality to the world. While some may wish for full voice acting, I endlessly found the grunts and vocalizations endearing.
Occasionally platforming sections in games with this style can feel unpolished and imprecise, but Rainbow Billy does a great job with the camera and controls. Even if you miss a jump, there are few repercussions as you immediately respawn at a previous platform when you fall. It immediately alleviates frustration and keeps you moving forward.
There are three main worlds in Rainbow Billy: the Curse of the Leviathan, with a total playtime approximately coming to around ten hours. This can be extended even longer if you happen to uncover all the secrets of each island and unlock every possible friend. While it may seem small at first, there’s a good deal of content to discover.
Rainbow Billy: the Curse of the Leviathan does a fantastic job of balancing its cute world without making its gameplay too juvenile. Battle systems, in particular, are complex enough for different play styles around, given a player’s preference. Characters and dialogue are sweet but without sap that is sometimes associated with more wholesome games like this. For those looking for a fun and comforting RPG experience, Rainbow Billy: the Curse of the Leviathan may be the colorful journey to embark upon.
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