Greetings and salutations lovely readers!
This is my first early bird review, one where I look at an early access title. I’ll probably revisit this on full release, but be warned all this information is time sensitive, please note the date of posting, many things may have changed by the time your wonderful eyeballs are laid upon this page.
With that in mind, let’s dive into this one scrumptious bite at a time.
I come into this as someone who enjoys the show. I do not consider myself a fan of the show, though I do enjoy it. I have spent a little time in the community, and enjoyed my time there, but nothing too major, but I’m familiarized enough with the show to recognize the characters, settings, and story of the show.
As for early thoughts of the game, I’m always extremely wary of early access. Paying to beta test is the opposite of how the business should work in my opinion, and while potentially impacting development is a positive, I’m not entirely sold on the business model of buying influence in this way.
Things I enjoyed before I even owned the game were the screenshots, they looked well done. I wish the devs included more of their plans in the description, but it does an adequate job describing where they wish to take it. What they do not do well is describe the current state of the game in detail. I was actually unsure how functional the multiplayer was when I was first gifted the title, how many characters were in it currently, etc. . . I do wish this information was readily more available for those wishing to purchase the title, but again, not a deal breaker.
It’s also a spectacle fighter, on the PC, created by a very small (the page describes them as 4 people) dev team. That’s…worrying, there aren’t many spectacle fighters on PC, but indie developers aren’t generally known for having the budgets to make a spectacle fighter. On the other hand this is made and published by the creators of the show, so if anybody can make animations that match the show, it’s them, right? From the quality of the 3D models, I assume they’re actually the models from the show, perhaps modified to be a little less intensive.
A small side note, I’m technically not supposed to be able to run this game. I meet all of the criteria for minimum requirements aside from processor, they say an i7 2.8ghz, and I have an i5 2.4 ghz. On potato quality I ran pretty much flawlessly, I had a couple of frame dips during particularly gruesome kills when 20 or so creatures died in an explosion of gore, but those were rare, and I ran this game flawlessly. I have heard others complain about frame drops, but given the early state of the game, and my own near flawless experience graphically, I can say this runs great.
I don’t recall much of the story of the game, but there are only a handful of levels, and it’s given in small audio bursts over what I can only assume is a radio. While a few of these lines are memorable “That…is a bomb.” And all the lines fit with the characters and theme of the show, there’s just not a lot to sink my teeth into, but, who plays a spectacle-kill-all-the-things game for it’s story?
There is a lot to love here, and a lot to hate. The 3 basic buttons on an x-box controller (controller is recommended for this game.) are jump, shoot, and melee attack. Mashing melee attack does a combo. You can usually combo shooting, but aside from one character (Ruby) the animation is usually just simple stand there and shoot. Every character but Blake ends up moving backwards when shooting, and you can combo in shots with your melee combo (for Yang, I believe it’s melee melee melee shoot.)
There are also 2 other special buttons. L is the ‘dodge’ usually a short range teleport/roll/dive sort of move, and holding it is sprint. The ‘special’ button (Right trigger on X-box) brings up a menu, and holding it and using any of the 3 buttons does a special move that’s vaguely associated with the skill (special-melee, does a melee attack, special-shoot does a special shoot move, etc. . ) The special-jump is usually an AoE of some kind. You have 4 special points to start with (that can be upgraded through talents on level up.) And you gain combo points by getting combos.
Overall, the melee combat mostly feels really good. Combos execute and chain well, there’s some good depth mixing in ranged attack or switching targets, the auto-targetting that helps you combo into guys is usually pretty good. Blake’s melee combo in particular is one of my favorites, you continuously whip an enemy, knock them in the air, and whip them some more.
Ranged combat on the other hand is…very lacking. It’s difficult to aim without some kind of guide, though auto-targeting usually makes that not as terrible. It’s difficult to tell where your shots are going or how much damage they’re doing, and when you do figure it out, you realize how very pitiful ranged damage is. In a series where every weapon is a gun (even the nunchucks are guns!) ranged combat is very…subdued. In the current game there’s only one point in the series where ranged combat is necessary and that feels very forced by the developers to give you a reason to shoot your gun.
There’s some decent progression in the game (currently you can raise to level 10) every level earns you 1 skill point, and you can invest that in the trees to upgrade abilities, or to upgrade the character. There are usually 2 character-specific upgrades, one locked behind ‘reach level 10 with the character’ and the other locked as a challenge of some kind (Ruby’s is kill 200 enemies with ranged attacks.) You keep unlocks in future playthroughs, though not the points. I don’t mind the unlocking, though some of the unlocks (kill 2000 enemies) feel a bit excessive, and anything that makes me ranged attack is generally a negative feeling.
There is a unique problem in the progression, and that comes with what’s been called the ‘third tier’ talent point. It costs 2 points to unlock, and is most notable on your AoE. Taking it gives a small benefit, or at least a small -noticiable- benefit, but makes the skill now cost -2- special points. And this leads me to one of the bugbears I have with the combat system in it’s current state.
AoE feels like the optimal way to go. 2 out of 4 characters have an excellent AoE (Ruby/Weiss) and Yang has an alright AoE. Blakes is…much to be desired. This would be fine, if it just wasn’t so easy to AoE. You become invulnerable, and it does a rather large amount of damage, 1 upgrade point in Weiss’ or Ruby’s AoE kills most small grim, and heavily damages many large grimm. I find myself just gathering up a death ball (pretty easy in the game) then AoE’ing once or twice to kill many enemies, get the bonus for killing most enemies in the wave (rewarded for heavy aoe/wave clear) and going about my day. By sinking in that third point, I don’t gain enough benefit to justify halving how many times I can use it, it’s more economical to be able to do it -more- than it doing slightly more in most cases. It keeps me from wasting damage if I can do it more often for less than once with extra damage on an ability that one shots most things I want it to anyway. It’s a very strange design choice, usually upgrading shouldn’t limit an ability, but unarguably improving it.
Death is handled as you’d expect, if you die, a teammate has to run up, hit and hold the prerequisite button for long enough, and you instantly revive with a few special points, ready to kick-butt all over again. The way this system works in single player is also a bit of a bugbear, if you’re knocked out, you fail the mission, and have to restart at the last checkpoint, and these can be pretty few and far between and a few of the sections can be very difficult alone.
The net code seems superb, and multiplayer play ran pretty flawlessly in all the games I’ve tried. It seems to support drop-in drop-out play pretty well, unless it’s the host. Then you restart the mission. But I never had too many issues with phantom hits or lag, though once or twice I saw enemies take damage that weren’t near anyone, it’s very good, very accurate, and very smooth. Overall the gameplay has a few quirks, but is very wonderful as a melee gore factory, but don’t worry, you’re killing things without souls, at least so far.
Sound is an interesting one, I don’t recall the music being anything fantastic, but nothing bad either. The sound effects generally sound good, though at first were waay too loud. This was addressed in a patch that actually went out very recently that added a sound effects slider. With voices from the cast, good sound effects, alright music, sound direction is generally good, though ranged combat still doesn’t sound great. Lacks a lot of impact and force, feeling very neutered.
Overall it’s alright, it’s varied and fits the aesthetic well, but I did spend more time running than I care about, the large, mostly linear levels follow an almost zen formulae to it. Run….fight a few enemies..run…reach an objective…do waves…run…reach an objective…do waves…win!’ The fighting is good, the arenas are varied, the enemies are varied enough to enjoy, usually adding a type per level. The running is, less interesting though, and there are few interesting things in the running sections, there are some breakable boxes that sometimes have XP rewards, and a few offshoots that lead to ‘artifacts’ collectables that give a fair amount of XP, but they’re not very interesting. After my first playthrough, where I explored a lot to find the artifacts, I find myself just dashing as hard as I can to the next fight arena where the gameplay really carries the game.
Overall RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is a very enjoyable romp of destruction through the world of the show, but not following the events of the show. For it’s early state it’s well done, plays well, has few bugs I’ve noticed and no game-breaking ones I’ve come across. There’s not much there for it’s current price but it holds a lot of promise with more content and a combat system that could be flushed out to be much more.
I give it 9 out of 13 yogstars. ********* ****
Final recommendation: If you’re a fan of the show you’ll really enjoy this nice addition, and if you’re not a fan of the show it’s still a very enjoyable beat-em up/spectacle fighter, though you may want to wait for more content for the price.
In case the developers read this, I’m going to offer my personal suggestions on how to improve the game. I am not a game-developer, I do not claim to understand ‘the mechanics of fun,’ or the technical skills required to implement these changes. I am just a person who loves games and has analyzed/played enough to think I have some reasonable suggestions on what can be improved and small ways to improve them.
First, a better death system for single player. I feel perhaps a revive on a cooldown, or a set number of lives per stage if you’re playing solo is reasonable, losing all progress because you died when this isn’t an issue in multiplayer is a bit of a heartache.
Make AoE’s less valuable, or other abilities more valuable, both of these are viable options. Personally I’d prefer the latter, I like the philosophy of buffing everything else than nerfing one thing, but that’s my own personal belief. On Weiss I sadly feel her only real ability/use is to just nova everything. And spam nova, and spam nova, and take talents that let you spam nova more, and do melee combos only when there’s only one creature or when I need combo points to nova.
Ranged combat also feels like it needs a lot of love, I feel since it’s less interesting than melee combo it should be stronger than melee combo. Perhaps make it’s damage better, perhaps spruce it up visually, tracer shots, cooler explosions, better indication of who you’re hitting. Or perhaps just remove it entirely, or let it only be only combo filler and don’t require it game. I find in the one place it’s necessary (where the bomb is.) There are too many exploding creatures to actually enjoyable take down with range shots, particularly since ranged is just very dull. The only characters I half enjoy it are Ruby (aoe death ball ranged attack) or Blake (Beams of Boom!) even on Ruby though my general way to enjoy it is to deathball everything and AoE and just take the death. Kill 30 creatures and take one death is a lot more worth it than shooting for 25 seconds and not feeling any satisfaction.
Finally Blake’s abilities, while not bad, feel like they pale in comparison of enjoyment and spectacle compared to the others. Other than just improving them visually, I’m not sure how to improve this, though her melee combo is my favorite.
Finally, running is less interesting than it sounds, perhaps small waves of creatures continously spawning through most of the runs, or more exploration or more crates or powerups or something to fill the boring run time.