If Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan was a person, it’d be that one friend who remains constantly optimistic no matter what. You know, the one you sometimes, just sometimes, want to punch in the face.
But as a game? Perhaps we all need a bit of relentless optimism in our lives right now. And Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan, a so-sweet-it’s-sickly game about overcoming adversity and believing in yourself, might have so much optimism that it occasionally makes you want to vomit – but its heart is very much in the right place.
The core of the game, an adventure comprising platforming, puzzles and a unique take on turn-based combat, sees the titular Billy on a mission to restore colour to the world. The Leviathan – a dastardly serpent hell-bent on causing chaos – has stolen all the colour, and only by recovering three primary-coloured orbs can Billy bring life back to the now-monochromatic lands.
Each of the colour orbs is located in its own world, and each of those worlds has its own unique challenges for Billy to overcome. He’ll make new friends along the way – key to his success – and engage with puzzles of increasing complexity. To progress, you’ll need to visit various islands, restoring colour to one at a time by befriending the creatures that reside on them. Often, before you can get to the creatures though, you’ll need to solve a few environmental puzzles. It might simply be traversing a platforming section, or maybe you’ll need to activate some switches. You could even need to roll some snowballs in order to reach new areas. There’s nothing too tricky here, but exploring is satisfying.
In order to befriend those creatures you come across, you’ll need to restore colour to their world by ‘battling’ them. ‘Battling’ is entirely the wrong word to use because Billy, as rainbow-coloured and friendly as he is, would never dream of landing a punch on anyone. Rather, Billy counters a creature’s negative statement with a positive one. Say the right thing, and you’ll reveal some of that creature’s coloured symbols. Then, by using tokens which you collect as you make friends, you can start to fill in a creature’s symbols. Your tokens have up to three symbols on them, and your goal is to play the ones that match the creature’s.
Before you play your tokens though, you’ll first need to complete a minigame. These start out really simple – press a button or stop a row of spinning wheels at the right time. But as you progress they get more complex, and you may find yourself choosing what tokens to play based on what minigame you’ll have to complete. Succeed at the minigame, and the symbols on your tokens will be played. If they match up with the enemy’s, you’ve successfully landed a ‘hit’. When all the creature’s symbols are filled, the battle is over.
It’s rather tricky to explain in detail, so watch the video below to see how a battle plays out:
Those are all early battles, and as you progress through Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan, you’ll unlock more tokens, additional symbols and will be able to place more of them in one turn. You’ll also face multiple enemies at once, requiring you to manage different lanes of tokens in order to attack multiple enemies. Battles are fun thanks to how unique they are, but they can get long-winded and repetitive. There’s also the issue that, in the late-game, enemies sometimes have so many symbols to fill that when there are multiple of them they’ll overlap each other, making it hard to work out what symbols are in what lane.
It’s a small problem in the grand scheme of things, though, and not enough to tarnish the joyous experience of playing Rainbow Billy. It’s certainly better-suited to younger players thanks to its colourful nature and the messages the game seeks to teach, but that’s not to say older players won’t enjoy it too. I’m in my thirties but still got a kick out of befriending new characters, exploring to find hidden secrets and overcoming simple platforming puzzles.
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is the embodiment of wholesome gaming. Its messages of hope and happiness might have you rolling your eyes from time to time, sure, but it’s hard not to be warmed by its wonderful optimism. With enjoyable puzzles, gorgeous character design and a world worth exploring, there’s a lot to enjoy here. If you’ve got primary school-aged children, play it with them – they’ll benefit greatly from the messages of respect, friendship and believing in yourself that are sewn into every aspect of the game.
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan Review – GameSpew’s Score