I don’t think there are enough four player online co-op games on the console market, especially on the slightly lower budget side of things. So, the fact that Rooster Teeth Games wants to deliver exactly that in a hack’n’slash game titled RWBY: Grimm Eclipse, based on their hugely popular 3D web series RWBY, I can’t help but think it’s an ideal time to launch. Will it shine bright like a diamond, or instead be a Grimm offering for RWBY fans and co-op gamers alike?
RWBY follows a group of huntresses in the making, learning their trade at the prestigious Beacon Academy, in the fantasy world of Remnant. Team RWBY is comprised of Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang, and their role is to hunt down the evil within the world, alongside various other teams formed at the school. Now, I don’t want to go too negative early on here, but almost none of that is conveyed to the player in Grimm Eclipse – instead you’re thrown straight into picking a character and told to fight. Simply expecting you to know what the back-story is instantly gears the game towards just those who are already fans of the series.
That’s not to say there isn’t a story to be told here, it’s just that the developers aren’t going to engage newcomers too well with this new plot-line – at least that’s how it feels. Anyway, from what little of a tale is present, you’re sent out into the field, being guided by Peter Port, to investigate a security problem in Emerald Forest, which subsequently leads to the team continuing on in order to find the perpetrator and uncover the mystery behind the mutated Grimm creatures.
There’s plenty of talk from Beacon Academy staff members Port, Oobleck and headmaster Ozpin via the communication system during levels, however it severely lacks in thrusting their best assets into the spotlight – Team RWBY. Move-sets aside, nothing makes the young ladies stand out in terms of personality, simply because they get absolutely nothing in terms of development. The voice acting for all characters featured is spot on, but overall it does a real disservice to the focal point of the series. It’s also quite difficult to take everything in from the support characters story-wise mid-level.
Nevertheless, a game can often thrive in gameplay when all else leaves a lot to be desired. In Grimm Eclipse there are ten levels to work through, traversing the likes of the Emerald Forest, Mount Glenn and the main antagonist’s lair. The worlds themselves are created to a decent standard, however, each level follows a rather rigid formula throughout, basically boiling down to clearing out an area and then surviving a couple of waves of enemies in another. It’s enjoyable the first few times of experiencing such action, but soon becomes a tedious and boring button masher.
Surprisingly, I’m not sure much of that can be blamed on the variation in attacks; the moves of each character are pretty damn cool as they are equipped with their actual weapons e.g. Ruby has the Crescent Rose and Weiss has the Myrtenaster. There are light, heavy and range attacks – and combos – at your disposal, and also opportunities for team and ultimate attacks. These attacks can be upgraded slightly, with a decent array of choices on offer for how to spend your skill points. Whether you pile them all into your ultimate attack, or increase the revival speed is completely up to you. Re-specing the point distribution can be done with ease at any point, and to be fair, it’s a good system that is in place.
The problem in the gameplay mainly rears its ugly head when the enemies arrive in large numbers, instigating mindless button bashing on tons of similar enemies over and over again. Repetitive is the best word to describe it.
You may think the short-ish level size is a blessing in disguise, but for the entire campaign to be completed in around two to three hours, without a satisfying story or great gameplay, is very disappointing all round. There is another mode to try, though if you’ve had enough of the main mode then a Horde mode won’t exactly fulfil you with joy. Tasked with facing wave after wave of enemies is an all too familiar theme, even when purchasable turrets are thrown in with multiple ‘stations’ to protect. It’s the last thing I want to do after exhausting my survival desires during the story.
Although billed as a four-player co-op game, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse can be attempted with less. Hell, you can go it alone if you like, but be warned it’s extremely tough on your own, especially without any A.I. partners to lend a hand. Once you go down, there’s no one to revive you and that’s the level over. If you manage to get some help online, it does work very smoothly though and there was never a point where I got kicked out, or experienced lag. So it’s definitely functional, and arguably the best way to get maximum enjoyment out of it.
One thing truly baffling about the online multiplayer aspect is with the game creation. When you try to set up your own lobby for random people to join in wherever you start from, it’s pot luck as to whether it does that or simply chucks you into someone else’s lobby. This makes it tricky to start playing from your own level of choice, with the alternative option being to join a game in progress, which again creates the same issue.
As a casual fan of RWBY, I had high hopes for a game that would translate everything great about the show onto console. RWBY: Grimm Eclipse proves to be better with a full team, enabling all of the unique weaponry to shine, but is incredibly pointless should you want a solo experience. The story itself flies over your head too easily and could’ve been delivered far more successfully using cutscenes. The one major positive comes in the upgrade system as you are given a fair few upgrades and the chance to change spec without much hassle. Unfortunately, character model design aside, it lacks the identity to set it apart from a generic hack’n’slash and forgets to ensure the gameplay is actually fun for any substantial length of time.
Newcomers will be left wondering what’s going on in RWBY: Grimm Eclipse, whilst fans will undoubtedly be underwhelmed at this offering from Rooster Teeth Games.
I was waiting for this review.
I don’t get when people keep wanting more single player games when co-op games are so rare. On Xbox we at least have Microsoft focusing on coop on its exclusive titles, but with scalebound cancelled we now have one less coop game.