Update: Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is part of the Xbox Game Pass lineup for December 2022, arriving this Thursday, December 15th. Ahead of that date, we thought we'd republish this review so you can see what's in store!

Original review (October 2021): If you look at the upcoming slate of games for the remainder of 2021, it's a sea of dark, broody titles. While that's not inherently a bad thing, sometimes you just want a bit of colour. Video games are meant to be fun, right? There's enough doom and gloom in the world that sometimes all you want is a little bit of hope, and that's exactly what Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan delivers. While it may not always get it right, its heart is in the right place, and it provides an adventure fans of games such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker will absolutely adore.

The plot follows the usual save the world narrative, but tasks you to revitalise lands that have been devoid of colour. How do you do this? Through some extremely wholesome encounters with the game's inhabitants and exploration. As you solve quests, discover secrets and chart new territory, you'll slowly but surely pick away at the world and restore it to its beauty. It's a game where the weapons at your disposal are love and compassion, not bullets and missiles.

From a gameplay standpoint, Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan borrows a lot of elements. The easiest comparison is, as previously mentioned, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Early on you'll receive a boat and begin plotting a course for distant isles, each with platforming challenges and turn-based battles to tackle. As you progress, your boat will expand with more inhabitants you've come across in your travels and turned to your side, who can also be later used in combat.

When we say combat, it's not exactly what you may think. There are no punches thrown here, but instead, you'll 'fight' through the use of words, as you slowly windle your opponent down. These foes may be suffering from insecurities, anger issues or even feelings of abandonment, and it's your job to carefully listen, responding appropriately to their needs. Once you've broken a barrier, you'll use the cuddly critters you've gathered to fill certain shapes and colours above their head to bring colour to them once again.

It's a wonderful mechanic, but one that perhaps outstays its welcome fairly on. You'll be engaging in a lot of fights and they don't evolve too much from the early hours. Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan can be quite a lengthy adventure, depending on how much you wish to explore, and combating opponents, repeating the same handful of mini-games each time, can quickly grow tedious. It's also worth mentioning the themes the game deals with - which ranges from a whole spectrum of mental health and self-appreciation issues - can be fairly heavy-handed at times. It's clear the game is intended for a younger audience, but the difficulty of its combat doesn't always reflect that.

This being said, the adventure Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan took us on never ceased to put a smile on our faces. With a whole cast of memorable and loveable characters, a gorgeous world to explore with a fantastic art style, and a seafaring adventure that just begs you to explore 'one more island' - it's hard not to love what's on offer. It stumbles along the way and may not be for everyone, but ManaVoid Entertainment has crafted a special experience for those it does resonate with.