Rooster Teeth’s smash hit web series, RWBY, seems like the perfect material for a videogame. It’s got monstrous creatures, despicable villains, bucket loads of action, and let’s not forget its bevy of stylish heroines.
Starting out as a fan project, Jordan Scott saw the opportunity and took it upon himself to create RWBY: Grim Eclipse, the first videogame adaptation of the show, in 2014. It didn’t take long for Rooster Teeth to pick up the title officially, and so here we are with the finished product – the ever so slightly renamed RWBY: Grimm Eclipse – available now on PS4 and Xbox One as well as PC.
It wasn’t long after diving into RWBY: Grimm Eclipse that I realised it was more than a little bit disappointing. Ploughing into its campaign on my own to get a feel for the game, the visuals did nothing to excite me despite the unique art style, and the combat felt basic and unrefined. What’s more, the story hit me as nothing more than mindless twaddle, and it all just felt a bit repetitive. There were also sound mixing issues, with voice acting sometimes so quiet that you could hardly hear it and other times just cutting off before the end of a sentence. Still, I willed myself through all of its ten chapters in a few hours, finding small pockets of pleasure amongst the tedium.
Things got a little better when I jumped into RWBY: Grimm Eclipse’s horde mode. Playing solo again, here, the story and dialogue didn’t matter one iota as I selected one of the three maps available – it was all about the gameplay. Using the same character I’d used to complete the campaign, Blake, the combat now felt more enjoyable as I rushed to defend stations scattered across the map, partly because I’d learned its intricacies, and partly because of the skills I’d unlocked for her by levelling up. Raging through all ten waves with the help of a stationary turret or two, my opinion of RWBY: Grimm Eclipse was changing for the better, and it was only set to improve further when I took the action online.
Make no mistake about it, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is a game meant to be played in co-op. There are four characters for four players, and when you have three friends or random strangers fighting by your side the action is more engaging, more hectic, more strategic, and therefore much more enjoyable. The number of enemies you face off against grows along with the size of your team, ensuring that completing your objectives in both campaign and horde mode always remains challenging. And if you do begin to find yourself breezing through the game too easily there are three difficulties higher than normal to sufficiently up the ante. Playing RWBY: Grimm Eclipse in co-op even allows you make use of team attacks, further adding to the game’s depth and focus on working together.
Employing a rather typical hack and slash control system, combat is what makes RWBY: Grimm Eclipse the fairly enjoyable experience that it is. Mixing up a flurry of standard attacks with the odd heavy attack results in a pleasing number of unique combos for each character, complemented by a three-hit ranged combo for when you want to keep some distance. You’ve also got access to an ultimate attack that’s limited by a meter, as well as the ability to dodge and counter your enemies’ attacks. As you level up, your ultimate, team and ranged attacks can all be enhanced somewhat, as well as some general stats like the amount of health you have once your shield-like aura has been depleted. The trouble is, there’s not really anything stopping you from just spamming your ranged attacks repeatedly for most of the game. In fact, it’s a highly effective tactic.
Longevity is provided by some skills being locked behind challenges, such as kill 200 enemies with team attacks etc. RWBY: Grimm Eclipse also employs a rank system, where specific challenges must be met to enable you to progress to the next rank. There’s not really any point to it though, other than to wave your status in other players’ faces. Ranking up also forces you to forfeit your character levels, setting you back at level one with a host of new challenges to head out and complete. Some players will strive to reach the max rank of 10, no doubt, but most won’t find the game that captivating.
RWBY: Grimm Eclipse isn’t a bad game overall, but it’s not something I can quite easily recommend either. In terms of content it’s pretty light, and it lacks a certain level of polish across all aspects, perhaps highlighting its roots as a fan made game. But, for all of its problems, there’s no getting around the fact that it does have the capacity to entertain for a fair number of hours when played in co-op, meaning ardent fans of the series may still want to consider picking it up.