Initial release date: November 15, 2022
Genres: Platform game, Adventure game, Fighting game
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S
"Review Copy Provided By Wayforward"
I need to be honest and let you know that I am not at all deeply connected to the RWBY franchise as I have occasional watched it over the last decade, but it has never captured my attention and is a series that my wife LehuaSuperfina personally loves. Going into reviewing this game has been difficult as I don’t have familiarity with the franchise and outside of the main cast, I know nothing about the world. So, why am I reviewing a RWBY game? Because this game is made by the amazing team at Wayforward who have continued to release back-to-back exceptional games over the years and due to that I trust that this game is a certified must play. So, is RWBY: Arrowfell a worthwhile game to dive into or is it another licensed title that will sell on the name alone? Let’s find out!
To help me understand the plot of Arrowfell, I’ve started watching the entire series on CrunchyRoll and have caught up to Volume 8 of which this game takes place within that season. If you haven’t caught up with that season, then you’ll be lost as the game doesn’t make any effort to explain what’s occurred in this season to you so be advised as there are spoilers ahead in this review. Arrowfell follows the huntresses Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang as they explore the floating city of Atlas and the city of Mantle. Reports have been made that strange orbs have started to appear all around the cities and surrounding areas and are summoning Grimm, the creatures fueled by negativity. Team RWBY are tasked with investigating what is going on and keep Atlas and Mantle safe from Grimm.
When it comes to the gameplay, we run into our first hurdle: there is no tutorial or explanation of the controls whatsoever. If you are familiar with how classic and modern side-scrolling action platformers play, then you will not find this to be a problem as back in the 80’s and 90’s games would expect you to figure it out on your own (or read the manual). If you are a younger or modern gamer, then you may find the omission of a tutorial to be an annoying oversight. The closet you get to learning what you can do with each character is purely in the game’s cutscenes in the opening level with the characters talk to each other and suggest what move they should use to progress such as Weiss’ ice platforms or Blake’s shadow clone technique.
The basic controls of the game are close attack, ranged attack, jump, character specific ability, and character swapping. None of the characters plays fundamentally different from one another as they all have the same run speed and jump height, the exception is with their attacks and special abilities. Ruby has a far-reaching scythe attack, while Yang uses her fists for brawling, Weiss uses her rapier and does 3 directional thrusts, and finally we have Blake who has a fast sword swing. The semblances or special abilities are unique to each character with Ruby having her Petal Burst dash which allows her to pass through enemies without taking damage and reach far areas, Blake’s shadow clone is stationery and copies Blake’s attacks, Yang can destroy blocks and do a damaging fist slam, and finally Weiss can use her glyphs to create platforms which eventually shoots projectiles.
Hit detection is incredibly spotty with there being instances where you while whiff on so many attacks and what makes it worse is when you get hit, there is a long hit stun that lasts about 2-3 seconds that is just ridiculous. I'm hoping with some patches they can rectify the poor combat mechanics.
All characters share the same health bar along with a heart system that acts somewhat like a quick continue system and when you lose all hearts then its Game Over. Ranged attacks costs your health meter and can be recovered once you find energy pellets in the levels. Beyond that, there aren’t any differences between characters and the combat doesn’t evolve beyond this simple playstyle. You do get skill points which can be allocated to stat buffs for each of Team RWBY which adds some additional layers to the game but that’s not much overall.
Performance wise, on the Nintendo Switch the game runs at 30fps regardless of being docked or handheld and is 1080p docked and 720 portably. On the Steam Deck, the game is natively 800p and runs at 60fps and can run at 1080p 60fps when connected to a tv or monitor. The game looks good with all the main cast and character art looking amazing but when it comes to environments and enemies, the game just lacks in diversity as you'll see the same looking locations and same enemies all throughout the game and it just starts to feel repetitive.
As much as I have complained about the fundamental issues of this game, I do find it to be fun in some spurts but ultimately it doesn’t have that same polish that you typically find in Wayforward titles. If you do decide to get this then get it on a sale unless you’re a mega RWBY fan.