Ever since Cuphead reintroduced me to the style of old school Disney and Fleischer Studios style animation I’ve seen it pop up in a few other games. Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan doesn’t have the tough-as-nails style gameplay that Cuphead does, in fact, it’s quite the opposite: it’s a brightly colored wholesome game about making friends in non-violent confrontations.
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is an adventure game with role-playing game elements. In it, you play as Billy as he deals with a world that has been cursed. All of its color has been taken by the malevolent Leviathan. It’s up to Billy to restore order, and to do so, you have to sail from island to island on your tugboat, have non-violent confrontations, make new friends, and restore color to the world. Everything about Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is so damn wholesome, and it really embraces a child-like sense of wonder with an emphasis on positivity, and non-violence.
Gameplay in Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan comes in two flavors: exploration (with some puzzles thrown in) and turn-based “combat.” Exploration is how you’ll spend most of your time, hopping from island to island, solving simple environmental puzzles. Often you’ll find new characters which you’ll have to befriend—and that’s done in turn-based “combat.” Combat is the simplest way to describe it, but in reality, you’re just talking it out. No blows are thrown, instead, you (and your friends) have to listen to your opponent, and when they reveal what’s bothering them, you have a chance to add positivity and therefore color back into their world. The better you listen, the more your potential friend opens up, revealing certain shapes that must be matched. If you manage to befriend them, they gain all their color and join your crew — letting them potentially contribute in the future.
Back at your “Friend-Ship” (as your tugboat is called) you can improve your relationship with your newly acquired friends by giving them presents and gummies you fish up or purchase. Giving them presents will increase their levels, unlocking new abilities — shapes — that can be used to make even more friends, restoring more color, and eventually defeating the Leviathan.
While I enjoyed the fuzzy wholesome warmth that Rainbow Billy provides, it’s hard to tell who it’s made for. It looks like it’s made for kids, but it might be too complex for very young kids to play without help from their parents, and older kids would probably ignore it. As a thirty-something I really enjoyed it its visual style, but was a little bored by its simple combat and puzzles. So the question really is, who is this game made for? You could argue it’s made for anyone who wants to enjoy a colorful game, but I have a hard time grasping the specific demographic that might embrace it. Perhaps it’s a game parents can play with their kids as they watch. I’m not saying very little kids couldn’t grasp its gameplay: I was definitely playing (and beating) NES games that as an adult I have difficulty with, so it might not be a bad fit.
Rainbow Billy is a beautiful game, and one that gives off wholesome vibes. It sits at a strange intersection of being a bit too complex for small kids, but a little too simple for an adult—though I think both of these groups can enjoy this game. It has non-violent confrontations that encourage listening and understanding, and it takes place in a beautifully animated colorful world that is just fun to exist in.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review.
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