Published on July 15th, 2016 | by Suros_Six1
Review – RWBY: Grimm Eclipse
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It seems RoosterTeeth has decided to try their hand at making video games, and for their newest addition to Steam I’m not very impressed. RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is a hack and slash game based on their animated series, RWBY. As a fan of the show I was very excited for the idea of a RWBY game and I bought it as soon as it hit Early Access back in December of 2015. I’ve followed it loosely since then, and 8 months later we now have the full release.
The gameplay of RWBY: Grimm Eclipse consists of, well, hacking and slashing. It’s a Dynasty Warriors-esque game in which the player fights a horde of enemies and spams the left and right mouse buttons until everything dies. The problem with this is, while you can create combos using your heavy, ranged, and light attacks, it just doesn’t feel satisfying. It just feels like an endless grind with little to no payoff. You get experience to level your character, which in turn gives you points to upgrade your abilities, but even that doesn’t feel that great. Not to mention that some of the ability upgrades are locked out until you complete side missions which consist of, “Do X ability 300 times.” I only completed about two of those after one full run through of the game, so unless players go out of their way to complete these, many upgrades will remain locked for the duration.
Combos in this game are on a guess and check system. I mean this in the sense that there isn’t a combo list for any of the 4 characters in the game. The player just gets to mash buttons together and then memorize them if they are hoping to replicate them later. This for me is a big downside because the gameplay already feels repetitive enough, and I’d like to see right away if there are any cool long combos to break up the monotony of using the same ones over and over while assuming that there aren’t any more different ones.
RWBY: Grimm Eclipse attempts to spice things up by adding button prompts to counter or attack enemies with a powerful hit when they are stunned. This system falls flat however, because it would only break up the monotony if it didn’t happen that often, but happens frequently and feels as tedious as pressing the left mouse button 50 times in a row. It does make combat a bit easier, but what the gameplay really lacks is flavor. Almost every enemy in RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is like a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the only difference between them is the size of the scoop. The smaller monsters have a small amount of health, and the bigger monsters have more health. The thing is, I get tired of vanilla. I want to add some toppings so it tastes different, and when I see a new enemy and expect to get that extra flavor the game just says, “Nope! Tricked ya! Still vanilla!” An example of this is a new enemy that exploded after taking damage. I immediately attempted to take them out first to blow up and hurt the enemies around them and nope! The explosion only hurts me. It’s a little thing like a monster blowing up and hurting it’s teammates that could add a little fun and diversity to the game that is just a huge missed opportunity.
Another missed opportunity is when they introduced spikes that rise from the ground as a level hazard. Not only are they really easy to dodge, but at the same time they don’t hurt the enemies at all. It would be really cool and satisfying to stun an enemy onto a set of spikes and watch them die to their own trap, but alas that isn’t possible to do. The game as a whole just isn’t satisfying. I purposefully played this game on single player to see how well a single person could clear the game alone, and I beat it in 2 hours. So if it’s lacking players it seems to adjust well to compensate for that to keep the game fair, but solo beating bosses was just not satisfying at all. In fact it didn’t feel much more different than just fighting a wave of enemies. Spam combo and then run away if my shield is low and wait until it comes back and then spam my combo again. If there were more mechanics involved then it would definitely feel like a different experience and would probably make for a more satisfying take down, but there aren’t. Playing multiplayer didn’t help either in that department because all we did was wail on the boss constantly which effectively stun locked him until he died. The only boss that has some mechanics to it is the final boss, and I actually did enjoy that fight because it felt like something new for once. That being said, it takes far more skill to beat this game in single player than in multiplayer because at least in single player I had to dodge things. Referring back to my ice cream analogy, all I can say is that when a boss rolls around I hope you brought a large spoon.
I wish the lack of diversity ended there, but it doesn’t. 9 out of 10 times that there is an objective in this game I can assure you it’s, “Defeat X waves of monsters.” And that’s awful because that in itself is the entire game! You can’t proceed throughout the map until you kill the monsters that spawn, which then conveniently makes an exit appear so you can proceed. When they display this as an objective it’s things like, “Defend this object,” which is fine, that makes sense to me. However, when I have to press a button and then wait for a door to open or a bridge to move in place at least do me the favor of putting it on a timer. This way it feels more like, “Hey this actually took this much time to do,” instead of, “Wow! We killed all the waves of monsters and conveniently the door opened after we killed the last one!” There was an objective where the player has to power a train to get to the end of the tracks while being chased around by monsters that was on a timer, and this felt really nice. The change of pace felt great as it felt urgent for players to scramble around and retrieve the fuel for the train cart. Of course it seemed like the monsters spawned infinitely and they couldn’t really catch you, so I just ignored them completely.
When playing through the game by myself the maps just felt very empty. Sure, I was fighting monsters constantly, but the action around me it still felt hollow. When playing with others though, this empty feeling went away as it felt like all of the map was being used as my teammates fought things separately. Visually, the game looks great; it has the same art style of the show making fans be able to feel like they are in the same world as the show. The UI is nice and clean, which was something I worried about as an early access player as it looked pretty ugly and lack luster before. In terms of graphics settings, there aren’t many options. You get full screen, resolution control, SSAO, bloom, and a generic Low-Ultra Quality setting. The game runs fine and I didn’t have any trouble running it on the highest settings on my Nvidia Geforce GTX 960. It lacks the ability to map keys though, which is bad for a game mainly developed for PC.
The sound quality was pretty good overall: decent voice acting, good music, great hit sounds, and pretty good weapon sounds too. My only exception is the sound for spikes activating is probably one of the worst sounds I’ve ever heard, and you can listen to a little sample right here. Something else I noticed, but that doesn’t bug me personally, was that the songs loop in a pretty bad way. They don’t loop seamlessly, but rather they play out long enough that it just sounds like someone just started the song again from the beginning which can sound a bit bizarre.
The last thing worth mentioning is the story that ties this game all together. Honestly, the story could be nonexistent and it wouldn’t affect the game at all. It’s 10 chapters long with me clocking about 2 hours to beat all chapters solo. All it really does is hold the game together in terms of giving you a reason as to why you are going to different areas. That’s not to say the story is bad, it’s just not important. The end of the game is just so anticlimactic that it’s laughable. If don’t care about spoilers and you would like to see it, here you go. I think this game assumes players will replay it to play all 4 characters, but even then there is no reason in playing it to completion again because after playing a character for a chapter or two you’ve played them to death.
RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is a hack and slash that lacks a lot of diversity in gameplay that makes it a repetitive grind with little to no pay off. There are great visuals, great sound, and a story that isn’t bad, but ultimately fails to deliver a good game. It’s one I really wanted to like as a fan of the show, RWBY, but as a reviewer I knew I couldn’t. It’s honestly a surprise to me that this game made it out of Early Access.
Summary: A repetitive hack and slash that with little to no reward to grinding out the game. The only thing that saves it is the initial learning process of figuring out how to play that feels fresh for the first 10-20 minutes along with the fact that it runs fine.