While we felt that River City Girls had some notable flaws when it launched on PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2017, it’s still to be considered as one of the best side-scrolling beat ’em ups available right now.
That’s why we’re pleased that it’s now available on yet another format – PS5. If you’re lucky enough to have Sony’s latest console and haven’t played River City Girls yet you’d be wise to consider picking it up. And there’s good news for those who have already bought the game on PS4 – the title is cross-buy, meaning the PS5 version will be playable at no additional cost.
Putting players in the shoes of schoolgirls Kyoko and Misako, River City Girls has them fighting across River City to save their boyfriends. As you can see from the screenshots on this page, it has charming pixelated visuals, and while the gameplay is fairly old-school at its core, there are numerous modern touches to make it feel fresh. There’s an experience system, for example, allowing you to upgrade Kyoko and Misako as you play. You’re also free to explore the city and take on side-quests if you can find them.
That openness, however, can also work against River City Girls. Backtracking is sometimes required to progress in the game, which can get a little tiresome. There are also some features like recruiting enemies and then summoning them to help you in battle that feel a little hit-and-miss. Thankfully one major issue has been resolved since launch, though. To transition from one area to another, you now need to hold down a button rather than just press it. It means you’ll no longer trigger a transition in the heat of battle, which used to be very irritating indeed.
While it’s perfectly playable in single-player, River City Girls absolutely shines when played with a friend by your side. Two girls pummelling enemies in harmony is simply better than one doing their best to survive. You’ll be able to cover each other’s backs and devise more effective strategies. And once you’re done, you can try playing through the game again, perhaps switching characters or tackling the hard difficulty level.
When it comes to PS5 upgrades, there aren’t all that many, unfortunately. The visuals are a tiny bit sharper, and the load times, which were already fairly quick, have of course been reduced. The biggest gains are DualSense speaker support, with various sounds now blaring out right in front of you, and Activity Card support. For some reason there’s no support for haptic feedback, which seems like a real missed opportunity.
With the problematic screen transition issue fixed and some other tweaks implemented since launch, River City Girls is in better shape than ever no matter what format you play it on. But factor in a sprinkling of PS5-centric improvements, and you have what is undoubtedly the best version of the game yet. If you’re a fan of side-scrolling beat ’em ups, consider this a must-have.
River City Girls PS5 Review – GameSpew’s Score