RWBY Arrowfell is the effort of an all-star team. Rooster Teeth has teamed up with WayForward, the brilliant people behind the Shantae series and more, and Arc System Works, the legends behind Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. When RWBY Arrowfell was initially announced last summer, high hopes were immediate, especially with the thoughts of a 4-player, side-scrolling RWBY title.
Unfortunately, the multiplayer was abandoned, but what we are left with is still an interesting RWBY game made by some amazing developers. So is RWBY Arrowfell the genuine RWBY experience we’ve been longing for? Or does this one miss the mark like Grimm Eclipse before it? Let’s find out!
In typical RWBY fashion, the game starts off with a simple backstory. The story of RWBY Arrowfell takes place within Volume 7 of the anime, which may contain a lot of spoilers for those who have not caught up. Thankfully, though, if you are not a RWBY anime fan, the game still does a good job introducing you to characters, events, and storylines in a way that is simple to understand and keep up with.
We follow the four main protagonists in the series: Ruby Rose, Weiss Shnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long. Together, these four are known as Team RWBY (Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang), and they are newly appointed huntresses on a mission to take out the Grimm, soulless creatures of destruction. It has come to their attention that Grimm are mysteriously spawning around the city of Mantle, and it is up to them to discover the cause of their sudden presence.
This is typical RWBY storytelling, and it honestly works well in RWBY Arrowfell to keep your attention, despite being convoluted at times. The four protagonists have excellent chemistry which keeps dialog entertaining throughout, and the NPCs help to advance the story in many ways. There are a lot of back-and-forth missions that can feel like a chore, but this does help to minimize directive within certain areas, as you are able to collect what you need and back out with no problem. It’s an interesting system, but it did take me a while to get used to, as it does feel weird just leaving levels whenever I want or need to.
Gameplay in RWBY Arrowfell is basically a classic action platformer with a little twist, and that is basically that you have full control of all four characters at once. Well, not at the same time, naturally, but kind of like the side-scrolling TMNT game on the NES. You can change characters freely with the left and right bumpers or the right thumbstick, but in a weird choice, all four characters share health and energy, which means you are only ever changing characters for special abilities. This caters to the problem of applying skill points, because once you find a favorite character, you will want to power them up fully before others, as there is seemingly no need spreading it around early on.
The way health and energy works is rather odd, too, because the green energy bar depletes when using projectiles but also when being hit by enemies. Not only that, but when the energy bar is fully depleted, your team loses a heart, but the energy bar is not immediately filled up, which means you can lose hearts very quickly in sequence if you aren’t careful. This is a bizarre decision, in my opinion, as it changes the gameplay drastically in a less fun way. Many times, death feels like the fault of bad RNG more than poor gameplay, and this is especially true for most of the boss fights, as I did the exact same thing multiple times and eventually won.
Missions are obtained by encountering NPCs in various locations, and then going to the spot where they need help and either clearing out Grimm or finding a lost or desired item. This is where things can feel like a chore, because gameplay is regularly subject to finding these NPCs and running errands for them. The main chapter objectives can get a bit lost in midst of doing side quests, so that can become annoying, too. Honestly, there are just a lot of weird decisions in RWBY Arrowfell that do not make sense to me, and it does hurt the overall experience.
As you progress, each character’s special ability (Semblance) gets upgraded to help with accessing more of certain areas, but this is a simple progressive power-up system. Also, areas will have “Ambush” sections where you have to fend yourself against a swarm of Grimm and other enemies. This is rather fun and tests your skills and ability to switch between characters, if desired, to create some fun scenarios. It is odd to me that these ambushes provide a more entertaining and challenging experience than the boss fights do, but I think that has a lot to do with the health and energy system. There are, however, a LOT of these ambushes, so be prepared.
Things get a lot better when we look solely at the artwork and sound. RWBY Arrowfell looks lovely, and the cute and expected art styles from Arc System Works and WayForward are present. The character designs are super-cute, and the enemies are varied, which keeps things rather interesting. Some of the stage designs are a bit odd (Almost as if they were initially intended for multiplayer), but considering how the title plays in regards to the back-and-forth gameplay, it has a weird metroidvania-vibe about it without actually being a proper metroidvania. The game still looks amazing, and the artwork in both the foreground and background are astounding.
Where things really turn up is the sound department. The music in RWBY Arrowfell is incredible! There are a couple tracks that could be genuine hits, and they fired me up upon first listen. Not only that, but randomly throughout the game, the original voice actors for the characters are present and do a great job. It is only unfortunate that the voice work doesn’t extend throughout the whole game, but considering the type of game we are dealing with, that is honestly not a problem at all. Things turn up even more after certain moments that initiate proper anime-caliber cutscenes, and this is when the visuals and sound are at their peak.
RWBY Arrowfell truly is a mixed bag. The story is rather interesting and caters to both fans of the series and newcomers alike, which is rather impressive. The art style, soundtrack, and voice work is top-tier and compliments the series tremendously. However, gameplay is rather odd throughout, and it is hard to look past some of the decisions made. I do believe that since RWBY Arrowfell was initially supposed to be a multiplayer experience, some changes were made that did not benefit the single player experience.
RWBY Arrowfell is probably the best RWBY game to date, but that is honestly not saying much. The story carries for a long period, and the game will take you a decent time to clear. Whether that is a good experience from start to finish depends largely on your ability to stay focused on the narrative and less so on the mediocre-at-best gameplay.
Considering the teams behind RWBY Arrowfell, I honestly had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it does not deliver across the board, and since this is a video game and the gameplay suffers at multiple points, it is difficult to recommend RWBY Arrowfell to people who are not fans of the RWBY series. I can barely even recommend it to RWBY fans, but I am sure they will love just seeing their favorite team in cute pixel action.
RWBY Arrowfell Switch Review provided by Nintendo Link
Publisher: WayForward, Rooster Teeth
Developer: Wayforward, Arc System Works
Release Date: November 15th, 2022
Price: $29.99, £26.99, €29,99
Game Size: 4.8 GB
Solid RWBY story and character development
Art style and most designs and solid
Anime-style cutscenes are excellent!
Soundtrack is spectacular!
Some gameplay decisions are baffling
Boss fights are a drag
Most missions feel like chores and are boring
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.