Rainbow Billy: The Curse Of Leviathan Review (PS4)
INDIE GAME SHOWCASE OF THE DAY
Developed: ManVoid Entertainment
Published: Skybound Games
Genre: Adventure RPG
Release Date: Oct 5th, 2021
*Review copy provided to me by Skybound Games
''Friendship is.. magic'' Rainbow BIlly: The Curse Of Leviathan is a light hearted adventure game with RPG elements that is developed by Manvoid Entertainment and published by Skybound Games. Taking a different approach to the RPG formula and instead of focusing on damaging and hurting your opponents and enemies, Manvoid instead makes it about self acceptance and healing everyone involved. Does this idea end up being a smart decision or does it make the experience a tad bit cumbersome?. Only one way to find out, so let's go!
Rainbow Billy tells a universal coming of age story about dealing with changes in the world and accepting ourselves and the others around us! Sometimes it only takes a conversation, empathy, and a new point of view to make a world of a difference. With the powerful Leviathan sucking out all the happiness and color of the world, it is now up to the high spirited, Billy, to soar across the ocean, make new friends and bring love and joy back to the once peaceful world.
Rainbow Billy at its core and just by the look of your objective, such as coloring the world, will seem oddly reminiscent of games like Paper Mario Color Splash, but honestly, while yes, you could say that, I really don't feel its very accurate due to the way the story is actually structured and its overall game play mechanics being vastly different. One of the main reasons behind this being such a different game is because you do not hurt anyone in this game throughout your 12-15 hours of playtime. That's right, even though there's combat to be had, the focus is about healing the people you encounter rather than harming them in anyway shape or form. That may be a tad bit confusing when trying to sow together the logic in your brain, but don't worry, I got your back and will explain entirely what I mean. I just hope you're ready for some slice of life care bears type of stuff because that's exactly what you're going to be encountering, even a care bear stare. However, it is done in a tasteful manner that ultimately has an uplifting message for all players, young or older and even though there's lots of cheese, there's not enough to attract Monterey Jack from Chip and Dales Rescue Rangers, so were good there.
At the start of your game, Billy and the rest of the towns inhabitants are getting ready for a big celebration. Everyone is happy, jolly and overall just having a great time. To cap off this big celebration, the town wants to have a huge firework celebration that will make this party just the best ever, so of course with Billy being just as excited as the rest of the town, he sets off on a small journey around the town to collect fireworks to get ready for the big show. Upon collecting all the fireworks, it is now time for the fun to begin!. PLOW. BOOM. BLAM. Off go all the beautiful fireworks, everyone, including Billy, is extremely happy, well... everyone except the big nasty dragon, Leviathan. He wakes up annoyed from his slumber and demands to know what these happy colorful humans are doing, he's had enough of their crap, but instead of going full Smaug on them, he instead robs the entire land of its color and its happiness along with it. In a hasty escape, Billy manages to make his getaway on his ship named... Friend-Ship. Yup.. I know. Just go with it ok?. Now with the world riddled in black and white and dispossessed of its color and joy, your adventure will truly begin.
The basic fundamental of your story will involve you going to different sections of the world and trying to avoid Leviathans grip. Your goal is ultimately to collect the three cores that are scattered throughout the land in order to be strong enough to take down Leviathan and restore balance to the world, but traversing isn't as simple as going from point A to B, nope, because your ship runs off a color meter and only in specific places along your Wind Waker like water journey can you refill your meter or stay afloat. As you trudge your away cross the ocean, you will find pockets of dark water and bright water, the longer you are in the darkened water, the faster your color meter drains and should it run out, you will be sent back to where you came from, to the previous color lit spot. So how do you advance if you can't find a place of color in time? that's simple. Re-color an area to unlock your path. Right, so color this area, color that area, you get the basic gist of what I'm talking about. But what I haven't told you is the actual HOW TO. When you find a black and white section of the map, usually a small island or piece of land, take your boat and set it up at the dock. Now your adventure turns into a Paper Mario like platformer where you can freely roam around your designated area, search for secrets such as little demon cat looking creatures named ''thoughts'' that you can turn in as currency for upgrades, items for character friendship and accessories for your ship and defeat enemies on black and white islands to re-color the entire area, which becomes key. But we'll get to most of those very shortly because I want to get into the nitty and gritty of the actual combat and what you will be spending ninety percent of your time actually doing in this game. So lets just dive in.
Rainbow Billy both acts like your traditional turned based RPG game with you attacking, waiting, then your opponent hitting back and then you repeat the process. Not too special right? well actually you're completely wrong there because Rainbow Billy's battle system when compared to other turned based RPG's, to me, is actually way more unique and has more depth to it due to the overarching theme and narrative that is presented to you on WHY you are even fighting in the first place. In Rainbow Billy, you do not necessarily attack your opponents in the traditional way with damage percentage with physical pain, instead here in this title is all about uplifting, bringing joy back to people and recoloring them with happiness. Instead of punching someone in the face or burning them with a Firaga spell, you instead listen to them, hear about their fears, insecurities about who they are, their life, the way they look, talk, etc. When combating the discolored animals who may be depressed, resentful, angry, or hostile due to some personal issue effecting their lives, just like every day you and me, you have an option to talk to them and see what they're going through and you can pick an option that relates to their situation to try to talk them down and get them to realize, hey buddy, were here for you, were going to help you, were your friends, people care for you, love you and genuinely want to be your friend, its going to be ok. This is something people out in the real world today need to hear a lot of the time due to personal problems or insecurities they might have because you never know when something as simple as ''how are you doing'' or a good pep talk to tell them to not give up and keep going, can actually do for someone. This is at the foundation of your battle mechanic and it's done very tastefully, even when tackling very sensitive talks such as self harm or depression.
When engaging in a battle and using the talk feature to talk them down, if you pick the wrong answer, it will tick them off and then you will get damage via your morale meter. What happens when your morale meter gets drained? I'm not really sure. I actually never lost a battle my entire playthrough so I couldn't tell you, but I assume it will probably make you start the battle once more. But enough self egotistic bragging, how do you actually help these people with their problems and re-color them so that they're happy again? Pogs. Remember those?. Well I don't think they're ACTUALLY pogs, but they look exactly like them and that's what I'm going to call them. During your battles you will have a stack of these Pogs that relate to animal friends that you've helped along your journey and each animal friends token or Pog, has a special stat and shape that makes it unique in every single battle. Some tokens can be a blue moon, blue star, red shape, cloud, etc and each one of those shapes, relating to a color, also has a stat that gives extra boosts depending on the order you use them in, where in the line up you place them or mixing them with another similar Pog. These stat increases can give you an extra turn with drawing a token, extra morale if used first, summon a friend of the animal or monster you used for extra damage, reveal an enemies locked color and many more. Using these in strategic ways are key points in each fight and is very critical. Should you be low morale, you can do like I do, take the slow and steady approach by sacrificing all your front row moves(up to three in later stages) and using tokens that give you a slight boost in morale health, even at the cost of losing a turn. Trust me. You WILL need to do this the further you get in the game or you will have a ROUGH time getting anywhere because some of these battles can get tricky as all heck.
Along with strategizing Pog animal abilities and their colors, you must then focus on unlocking the question marks and hearts that dangle above your enemies. You can unlock these in various ways, such as talking to your opponent, trying to ease their pain and make them feel better, doing this will unlock some of their question marks and reveal what color is needed to recolor them. You may also use a Pog's ability to reveal one of their hidden colors or just guess what could possibly be hidden and hope for the best. When you're ready to use your shapes and colors to attack, you will initiate mini games that range from Pong like games, dodging spinning spikes, QTE like button presses and more, failure to do them will negate any attack you were going to do and erase them, so... don't screw up, ya big goof. Once you have completely filled their colors and shapes, they will be recolored and become more confident, happier and want to be your friend and will now join your team, its pretty awesome. Now, don't think your battles are going to last two to three minutes and you're done, oh lord, no no, you've come to the wrong place.
The further you get into the game, the more strategy you will have to implement due to having to fight two to three characters at a time, each with ten to twelve unlockable question marks and then filling in all their colors. If you're lucky, some of the harder fights in the game will only take you twenty minutes, some even pushing that forty minute mark if you don't come prepared. Well... I guess I should raise my hand for that one because I literally handicapped myself for half of the game due to not utilizing my little demon cat looking ''thoughts''. Thoughts are little beings that you find scattered across the globe and when gaining a specific amount of them, take them into your ships hub and placing them in a machine and then claim your reward. Some of these rewards are extremely vital to make this game more accessible or easier for you in the long run and its something I didn't know for quite sometime because I'm stupid and instead of being able to catch four to five fish or friendship items while doing fishing mini games, I was only doing two at a time. To top off my stupidity, instead of being able to use six or more battle tokens at a time, I was using three because I didn't turn in my Thoughts currency to unlock more Pog slots. When I finally figured it out, I felt like a complete idiot. However, once I did figure out my mistake, oh boy, I sat in front of that machine for what seemed like an eternity and got so many upgrades that made the rest of my playthrough much more bearable, although not that much easier. Wait, what was I talking about when I mentioned the fishing and ''thoughts''?, need me to be more clear on that? Ok, I will because if you thought the only key mechanic to battles in this game was actual combat alone, then you're a silly goose, because we have just a bit more to talk about in regards to the depth of this game and how its way different than your traditional RPG.
Other means to spice up your combat style is by finding fishing spots scattered around each section of an island, some islands having two fishing spots and some only having one, it differs from section to section. Once you find one, engage it and you will be put into a grapple hand mini game where you must use your hand to pick up gummy fish that can be fed to your friends to raise their level or items such as CD's, dolls, ice cream, weights, etc. Some of these mini games just involve you going straight up and down to grab objects, while others require a little bit more thought by going in one orange pipe that is on the ground, which then sends you out the left side of the screen to grab something and depending on your timing will either grab you your item or fish, or get you hit by roaming spike balls, with each hit costing you to lose a turn. Why do you have to do this? what the heck is even the point? You're supposed to be on an adventure to save the land, not goofing off fishing like we did as Link in Ocarina Of Time. ''Quick Link, stop ganon before its too late, you must hurry''. Nah, sorry Zelda, I'm gonna go try to set the caught pound record at the pond, deuces. While that was a jerk move in Ocarina Of Time, its actually beneficial to you and your quest here and Its something I highly recommend. All items you gather while fishing or by a Tingle like shop that pops up here and there giving you items purchase, you will be able to give to one of your friends that you have unlocked. Some of your new and awesome friends will want to listen to a certain type of music, use weights to lift, want a friendship bracelet, a pillow to help them sleep or just a token of your friendship to show you care. Upon giving them their desired items, it will raise your friendship level with each character, which you can raise till level three for every single one of the sixty friends in the game. Yes that's right, there are around sixty different characters to unlock. Raising your friendship level is key to having more options in your battles heading forward because each friendship level gained for every character, will unlock another shape or color in their arsenal that will allow you to gain a new stat ability. But... this is where we do kind of run into an issue. Sixty characters to play with on paper sounds amazing right? Generally yes the idea is, but its execution can teeter a bit on the tedious side, unfortunately.
Why is it tedious? Well to unlock each character you find, some optional, some mandatory, you have to defeat them all in battle to re-color them and the world around them. You see where I'm going with this? this means you will have roughly sixty battles in this game, sixty plus if you include all the boss fights you encounter. This actually makes the game feel a bit dragged on because sometimes fights can go on for five minutes and you're done and other fights can range from twenty to thirty minutes. Now imagine doing over ten battles an hour from smaller fights to even longer fights with the harder battles, over and over and over. Considering the battle system does not change from the use colors, re-color, and lift the spirits of your animal friend and is roughly the same throughout, it can get a tad bit tiring. Never bad mind you but more so of a ''oh my godddd ANOTHER one, ok fine''. Speaking in line with the word tedious, the end game too does have its fair share of padding and some of my pet peeves that tend to irk me. One of the things in all games that absolutely triggers me are running boss fights and end game fake outs. Spending hours leading up to the main boss fight, all for them to say ''ha ha, ya right, I'm taking all your powers and you must NOW go and get them back''. To me that's the very definition of padding and where I feel the game becomes more of a chore to play than an entertaining experience. Let me be clear, it didn't make it a bad game, far from it, but it made it feel like they wanted to hit a specific hour quota and threw in the tried and true formula of ''do these tedious hour long tasks then you can continue''. But.. only for you to get to the last enemy of the game and have it do another trope I dislike, fight an enemy and they run, so now you have to chase them and repeat. Come on guys!
At the end of the day Rainbow Billy: The Curse Of The Leviathan was a welcomed surprise. When seeing its trailers, I got the vibe of Paper Mario Color Splash, so I went into it thinking it was just going to be a nice and relaxing little platformer or RPG style of game. While I wasn't necessarily wrong thinking this, I did however get pleasantly shocked to find out that not only did this game have a meaningful and uplifting message, but a deep dive into the psyche of people that may be hurting inside that can't necessarily express it because that's not now insecurities work, that's not how depression works, people can't just GET YOU because they aren't in your situation or been through what you've been subjective to. But here in Rainbow Billy, it teaches you the importance of relating to someone else, not judging them by their looks, their sex, their likes or dislikes, their way of life or personal insecurities and instead teaches you tolerance through kindness without being preachy or shoving a message down your throat to make it sound like one of those 90's ''DONT DO DRUGS'' PSA's you used to see with the Ninja Turtles or arcade cabinets back n the day. With a good message, in depth battle system that lets you focus in healing someone else while also strategizing, fun puzzles and secrets to uncover, large group of collectible friends with their own upgrades, fun side content like finding Thoughts as currency to gain new items and accessories and a coming of age story of healing the colorless world, makes Rainbow Billy a genuine joy to play, even with some of the tedious things I mentioned above. You will still have a great time and I implore anyone who may be having a hard time right now with issues to play this game because you may just find out that one of these characters in the game is exactly like you and me and sometimes, that's all we need, someone else to be in our shoes, to make us feel seen and heard. So with all that having been said. my verdict for this one is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW
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