This game is rated PEGI 3
Our review includes potentially triggering words:
Anxiety, Bully, Curse, Demon, Devil and Snake.
Ignore All Content Warnings
Posted: A year ago, last updated 10 months ago.
Play involves running and jumping around to explore the world, find treasure, hop from island to island in your boat and fish for eclectic items to help power-up your friends. When you encounter one of the 60 colourless creatures, a battle ensues to help set them free from their blinkered view of themselves, other people and the world. You build a team of whimsical creatures by helping through coming to terms with who they are and the personalities they have put on to cope with the world: anger, fear, pride, strength and even manliness.
Along with the listening and talking aspects of these encounters, you call on your team of friends to send over shapes that match what you know about this new creature's personality. This pattern matching is joined by simple Rock Band (rhythm), Arkanoid (bat and ball) and Asteroids (dodge the discs) challenges to get each set of shapes to hit their target.
It's child-friendly but has surprisingly deep writing. The conversations that ensue during each battle are crucial to how things play out, but are also engaging (and painfully honest) therapy sessions. Although there is whimsy aplenty, it avoids feeling overly woke by not easily ducking emotions and not quickly moving beyond personality hang-ups.
"Rainbow Billy tells a universal coming of age story about dealing with changes in the world and accepting ourselves and the others around us. Sometimes it only takes a conversation, empathy, and a new point of view to make a world of a difference."
You can play this game in the following styles:
In addition to the official ratings, it's worth noting there are characters in the game who bully, have uncontrolled anger, are victims of anxiety and fear, don't like their bodies, threaten the player with violence. These encounters resolve through non-violence and conversation. The big bad enemy is a devil/demon looking snake.
8+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Younger players may need help with some of the platforming jumps, time-based puzzles and extensive reading, but will enjoy deciphering each character's hang-ups. It's a great way to teach healthy civic space and playground kindness.
Our Game Pathways reveal how 47-year-olds play this game:
- 47-year-old: Unpicking Problems and Making Connections
Subtitles are generally high contrast, and the game uses colour, movement and size of text for emphasis. To make it easier to read and ensure high contrast you can select the Dyslexia Friendly option.
When exploring the ocean in the boat the weather turns darker and there are slight lightening flashes worth noting if you are sensitive to strobe effects.
Although you can fail at specific moments in the game, the battle mini-games can be adjusted to be at a different speed so they are unfailable. If you fall off a platform you reappear nearby. Harder puzzles are kept for the optional side-quests and are not required to progress the story. Hint stones are provided if you get stuck.
You play with one stick and buttons because the game looks after the camera. This keeps things simple, although it can take a while to get used to. You do occasionally need to hold or rapid press buttons in some battle moments, however these are option as you can select different characters who don't require this interaction. Also you can select a difficulty where failing these still results in success.
The camera is used to highlight where hidden items or the next location is. This is also signposts in the map you can access at any time. When you board your boat the camera always points to your next main objective. The game provides positional audio to help you find the Thought characters hidden in the game.
Items in the game that you can interact with are highlighted with colour and movement. The game always use symbols along with colours. The 12 colours used to represent emotions have all been given a symbol which is always present.
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