Nowadays, it’s hard for developers to cater to all audiences without leaving out someone. ManaVoid Entertainment aim to push the boundary for inclusion with their latest, as Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan incorporates an older art style with modern stylings for an adventure meant to appeal to anyone with a heart. There is a lot going on here to speak about, but does this tale work with everything running under the hood at once, or does it weigh itself down with gimmicks? Let’s find out.
The story in Rainbow Billy is quite simple. While enjoying a parade, an evil entity (the leviathan) appears, causing mayhem across the land as he drains the world of color. Now Billy must befriend others to restore color to the world. Yes, we have seen this plot before in some ways, but the execution of the narrative truly sets this title apart from the rest. Instead of battling, which you can do – Billy can try to use strong morals to speak to and understand foes, which in turn makes them allies. It’s a gentle, meaningful tale with a positive message, still managing to keep an adult interested with educational undertones through life lessons. This is what you would call a “smart” RPG due to that nature, as while you could go womp some enemies, it is far more rewarding to gain their trust or change their perception.
The gameplay is a bit all over the place, but everything contributes to the mechanics well enough to blend well with the premise. The RPG elements mainly consist of the battle sequences. At first glance, you can see a light inspiration of Paper Mario when battles begin, which is partially due to the layout of the battle screen. Add in a dialogue tree where you can speak to foes and you have a much different take on the genre. Through several different mini-games you can gain their trust and restore their color, where you obtain their coins, take abilities with you, and then use those said skills to acquire and befriend more island inhabitants.
The mini-games are also quite fun, taking place like a simplistic rhythm-action game at one moment, and then switching styles based on the token you use to capture a foe’s heart. You can power up allies by exploring the world to gather presents, which can be done with a claw mini-game, or by finding the correct token from another foe. Yep, there is a lot going on here, but once you get down the system, the accessibility for Rainbow Billy starts to shine as the player begins to focus on collecting.
From riding on your “friend-ship”, to tackling environmental puzzles while exploring, there is a lot to see and do as new areas become available, making this world a very satisfying place to comb over as progression is made through color. It’s a pleasant and very different take on an experience we have seen many times, but is sure to offer a refreshing break from a much darker market. If I had any gripe, it would be that the game has mild issues that slow down things a bit. Nothing game-breaking or even frustrating, mind you – just some overly long load times and mild tedium found in the mini-games. Sure, there is variety, but I would have liked to see a bit more for a world that feels yet to reach its full potential.
The visuals in Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan are based on that early-cartoon gimmickry that we saw in Cuphead, Epic Mickey, and so on – but that works here and brings out a chipper personality for an already friendly game. It’s as if you could slice it with a knife and watch rainbows pour out. That may sound a bit much for some, but there is this over-indulgent vibe that coats the top of the adventure that give it a slightly creepy, if not unnerving feel. Animations are wonky but pleasant, only subdued due to mild slowdown and framerate drops that occur mainly with the boat itself.
The soundtrack is exactly as you would expect. Happy, energetic, and playful, fleshing out the atmosphere to bring the experience full circle. You remember Steamboat WiIlie? Well, those jolly tunes and effects are obviously tied into the ambience, giving you a reason to crank those speakers, sway your head, and enjoy the visual eye candy that lies before you.
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is a bright spot, covering ethics and morality in a way that can be consumed by almost anyone. Sure, it doesn’t re-write the RPG genre, but it does offer some unique gameplay stylings that are sure to be appreciated by audiences wanting something creative and fresh to experience. There may be a few technical hiccups on this rainbow ride through positivity, but those willing to stick around are sure to find their pot of gold.
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