Last year I wrote a preview on RWBY: Grimm Eclipse, Rooster Teeth’s first big game based on their international hit series RWBY. At the time I said it was an enjoyable little hack n’ slasher to play with friends but it was clear that a lot of work still needed to go into it, in particular fine tuning its combat and expanding on some other core mechanics. As a fan of the series I had been looking forward to playing the game since it was first announced. However after a number of playthrough’s of the hour long campaign during early access I slipped away from the game not even returning for the update fixes or added content. Now though Grimm Eclipse has finally made the jump to console on the PS4 and Xbox One. Seems like a good time then to take another stroll through the world of Remnant and see if the developers were able to fulfill everything they promised all that time ago.
The story begins with team RWBY investigating some unusual security reports in the middle of the Emerald Forest, an area infested with the showy monsters known as Grimm. The mystery thickens as they delve deeper into the area, finding evidence of Grimm poaching, unusual company insignias and strange new variations of Grimm. The story then revolves around discovering who is behind these sinister goings on and putting a stop to them. Unfortunately though the story lacks any real substance. There’s not even a real start up we’re just dropped straight into the world and told to look around. The plot is narrated to us over the gameplay by a number of the series resident lecturers. If you’re a RWBY it’s fun to listen to Professor Oobleck go off on one of his rambles, but the backstory described is left rather vague. Then there’s the playable main cast who’s only story driven dialogue feels shoehorned in. The characters sadly don’t even acknowledge each other, only doling out a number of one-liners which are fun but it would have been nice to have seen a bit of interaction.
Gameplay wise things are a lot better. Grimm Eclipse plays out as an average hack n’ slasher, stringing light and heavy attacks together lets you perform all manner of flashy combos, ranged shots can be fired at the press of a trigger and large groups are best handled by powerful ultimate attacks which cost energy pips. All pretty average then. Combat feels very fluid and the controls are nicely laid out and responsive for the most part but some mechanics can be fiddly and hard to judge early on which can lead to quite a few game overs you feel hard done by. Grimm attacks do a significant amount of damage so dodges and counters are vital (particularly if you decide to go solo) while you wait for your health to replenish. The problem is that some enemies attack ranges and hit boxes are hard to read and knowing what time to counter for a specific enemy takes a lot of time to get the hang of.
The character roster consists of the four members of team RWBY and if you purchase the extra DLC (which I highly recommend you do), the four characters from team JNPR. Each character feels very different to play as each brings their own distinct fighting style. There’s a lot of fun to be found with just playing around with each hunter or huntress. Nora and Yang are defiantly first choice if you want powerful up close brawlers, or if you prefer letting loose with aerial combos then Blake and Ruby are your gals. You’re given the option to switch character after every level or game over which is a big plus as it helps break up the repetitive nature of the game and keeps things feeling fresh.
Defeating Grimm nets characters experience points and with each level gained comes a new point to spend on new skills and abilities. A highlight of this is that characters keep their experience so you can take everything you’ve learnt online into your single player run or vice versa. There is one big issue with the skill tree setup though in that some skills are locked behind tedious tasks that generally revolve around killing ridiculous number of enemies with specific attacks. When you’re at max level (10) and have access to a range of skills anyway you find yourself asking is it worth it.
Exploring the vast world of Remnant and slaying Grimm is without doubt a better experience when playing online within a group (disappointingly there’s no splitscreen co-op). That’s not to say single player is not fun but areas are large and open and when playing in a group you just get the sense that there is a lot more going on. It’s also an easier ride with people supporting you the whole campaign can be completed within 3 hours (depending on the skill of your team of course). The game is built around a mission setup where you do a little exploring, fight off a Grimm attack and repeat until you get to the end where there’s either a boss waiting for you or you have to defend some point of interest. The game rarely deviates from this formula and a lack of enemy variation doesn’t help either which means levels become very repetitive. If you want to take a break from this then the game also offers up a nice little distraction in horde mode which simply lets you fight of wave after wave of enemies until your team fails.
From Mountain Glens deserted dusty cityscape to a gorgeous crimson cherry blossom forest, levels are beautifully modelled and you really get the sense that you’ve stepped straight into the show. The only shame with the level design is that they’re way to linear and sparsely populated, with only the odd Exp. giving collectable to deter you from the main path. Characters are equally very well modelled with fast, fluid and overly stylish attack animations that the series is well known for. A full range of background music has also been carried over from the show’s original soundtrack to put you in the right mood, from the soft subtle tones as you explore the forests or the fast adrenaline fuelled rock anthems that play when taking on a boss. The original cast also lend their voices to the game putting in great performances if some of the lines feel a bit forced.
Overall RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is just an okay hack n’ slash title that could have done with some extra polish. Clearly its best enjoyed when played online in a team, and the varied fighters do well to freshen up a lot of the games repetitive combat and mission objectives. Some hit and miss gameplay and lack of any real story isn’t going to help bring newcomers in, but fans of the show will no doubt get some enjoyment out of whether that be the authentic RWBY style, quirky voice acting or action packed combat.
+ Lots of RWBY to appease fans
+ Solid hack n’ slasher
+ Online multiplayer offers the best experience
+ Varied cast with unique moves to keep combat fresh
– Story lacks substance
– Repetitive missions and combat
– Some tedious skill requirements