Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is an adventure game with RPG elements developed by ManaVoid Entertainment and published by SkyBound Games. Billy is being celebrated by the whole town in the World of Imagination when a terrible Leviathan literally rains on the parade with a storm that turns the world black and white. It’s up to Billy now to gather their friends and save the World of Imagination.
Rainbow Billy is truly an excellently designed children’s game. It has valuable themes and lessons, it is full of things to unlock but only if you want to or are intrepid enough to figure out how, and it is enough below the threshold of annoying or juvenile so as not to be irritating to parents playing or watching too. This is a totally winning combo that made even my time with the game enjoyable as an adult.
There are two sides to Rainbow Billy: adventuring with platforming and puzzle-solving, and a Paper-Mario-inspired combat system based on talking things out and getting help from the friends you make along the way. Your first few pals include Rodrigo, a talking fishing rod with a giant hand on its end, and the boat Friend-Ship. You’ll ride Friend-Ship across the game’s many islands, solving puzzles and making new friends who will join you on the boat’s living quarters and stay with you forever. Whenever you encounter a friend-to-be, though, they’re overcome by the Leviathan’s dark power and overwhelmed by some particular emotion. Some are being really mean, some afraid, some embarrassed, and others over-confident. Everyone has their own story, all 60 of them, and when you enter a confrontation with them, it’s not a battle—it’s a friend-making session.
The “combat” is based on a few phases. First, you listen to what the other character has to say. Then you talk to them. You select one of a few dialogue options and must pick the one that will help to make them feel better the most. There are wrong answers, okay answers, and good answers. The better your approach, the more colors that are revealed.
Each friend in your own party has three out of twelve different colors that serve as their “attacks.” You must “attack” with each of the enemies’ required colors in order to turn them back into their normal selves and befriend them. The attacks require the completion of a mini-game and the number of colors and passive effects your friends have will increase as you increase their friendship levels. And rather than a health bar, you have a morale bar. Because ultimately, these aren’t really fights, they’re conversations. It’s a great “combat” system because for once in the universe of video games, it doesn’t involve physical violence. It’s also just straight-up creative, fun, and makes real sense within the game’s narrative and moral structure.
Billy is an interesting protagonist. Not specifically because they’re a nonbinary rainbow child, which is great unto itself, but because they have this semi-silent existence. In the open world of the game, Billy rarely has much to say. Plenty of emotive faces and lots that people have to say about them, but not a peep from Billy for a good while into the game. But it’s not because of that classic notion that the silent protagonist allows the player to better see themselves in them. It’s just because Billy is shy. Which makes it all the cooler that when you get into “combat” scenarios, Billy is the one that does most of the talking and making the other characters feel better.
Perhaps in its own way, this is an even better way to let shy kids see themselves in the game. Maybe they see themselves in some of the enemies, and what they get to let Billy say to them is what they wish they’d hear themselves. Or maybe they see themselves in Billy, wanting to help others but not always knowing exactly how to. Getting to see the positive results of your conversations is just great no matter which way you’re coming at it from.
Visually, the game is swell. There’s this really cool dynamic camera that happens in some cutscenes where the 2D models of the characters are shown to clearly exist in a 3D world as the camera rotates 360 degrees. This even happens in the open world sometimes when you go around a bend and the camera changes to unveil a secret or help you see a puzzle more clearly. You also have free reign over the camera while out to sea with Friend-Ship. It’s cool that the visuals aren’t just static. There are a few times where the game has some graphical oddities or slow-downs, but nothing game-interrupting. It’s mostly just between scenes.
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is truly a great kids’ RPG game. For anybody looking to hook their kid up with a fun, unique adventure with great morals and a creative “combat” system that doesn’t throw any punches, this is absolutely it.
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is available now on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan
- Rating - 8/108/10
Rainbow Billy is truly a great kids’ RPG game. For anybody looking to hook their kid up with a fun, unique adventure with great morals and a creative “combat” system that doesn’t throw any punches, this is absolutely it.