RWBY Grimm Eclipse – Definitive Edition
Based on the viral web series by Rooster Teeth, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse was originally created as a fan project back in 2014, before being officially picked up by the company and released on Steam in 2016. Fast forward to 2021 and Aspyr have brought the Definitive Edition of the game, containing all of the DLC, to Nintendo Switch!
At A Glance
|Visuals||6 / 10|
|Sound||7 / 10|
|Gameplay||4 / 10|
|Overall||4 / 10|
|Positives||+ Beautiful art style|
|+ Fantastic soundtrack pulled straight from the series|
| + Play as your favourite characters from RWBY
|Negatives||– Story is non-existent|
|– Linear level design|
|– Brutal rinse-and-repeat action|
I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of RWBY when I was asked to review this game, but it only took a little snoop around the internet for me to get excited about what was to come. What I found was a really enjoyable series with a funny script that I’d definitely recommend to fans of light-hearted anime; the visuals were right up my street, the characters were diverse and interesting, and the fight scenes looked awesome. I could see why the series was so popular and I wanted to jump in right away.
Sadly, having played the game, I now know as little about RWBY as I did when I downloaded it from the eShop; Grimm Eclipse shares absolutely nothing about the characters, universe, or story of RWBY with the player, and unapologetically assumes that you’re a fan prior to picking up the game. Pushing ‘Start’ on Campaign Mode asks you to select a character before dropping you immediately into first level without so much as a cut scene to explain what’s going on, who the enemies are, or why you’re there.
I had dearly hoped that more of the universe would be elaborated upon as the game progressed but that was not the case at all. There are perhaps 100 lines of dialogue recorded throughout the entire game, and it’s not until the final level that we’re offered anything resembling a meaningful conversation between two characters, and even then the lead characters aren’t centre stage. You’re left in the dark about every aspect of the universe from beginning to end, which does a huge disservice to the series, and does nothing to satisfy existing fans or work to create new ones.
In summary, the game is a hack and slash adventure where you play as one of the four characters from Team RWBY: Ruby, Weiss, Blake or Yang, and must work together to fight back the Creatures of Grimm – soulless, shadowy beasts who stalk the world of Remnant. Along the way you uncover a plot that sees the evil Dr Merlot experimenting on the Grimm for his own twisted designs and the team from the Beacon school must stop him.
Characters have a combination of normal, heavy and ranged attacks to beat back the waves of Grimm with, as well as an ‘Ultimate’ attack that you can use after you’ve charged it up by striking a bunch of enemies. There’s a rudimentary counter-attack ability in there too that comes in handy keeping enemies at bay, as it interrupts their attacks and stuns them for a second or two if you get the timing right.
Unfortunately though, that is literally all there is to the combat in Grimm Eclipse, and you’ll sample almost all the action the game has to offer in the first ten minutes. The roster of enemies is tiny too, and with each of them using the same basic AI to quite simply chase you around the map, there’s no tactical element to proceedings either – it’s all rinse-and-repeat button bashing for the entire game.
The amount of damage your character can sustain at one time is indicated by your ‘Aura’ bar; when that bar is depleted the screen flashes red and an alarm sounds, meaning that you’ll be killed if you take much more punishment. Thankfully recovering your health is as simple as keeping out of harm’s way for a few moments, at which point your Aura bar regenerates back to full, and you can begin slaying again. And while having infinite health saves you from any faffing around with health items, it does mean that fights often present very little challenge. It’s so easy to sprint away from the enemy that it’s rare for you to feel under threat as a player, sucking any excitement from the already simplistic combat.
The level design does nothing to stem the tide of tedium either, and is incredibly linear. Almost all of the campaign levels are constructed as a single twisting corridor where you run from one group of Grimm to the next, without any puzzles, platforming or other obstacles to capture your interest. I will say that the environments all look nice, but you’re unable to explore much of what you can see as most areas are unashamedly blocked off by invisible walls in such blatant fashion that hasn’t been seen since the N64 era.
Each level ultimately culminates in the character stumbling upon an item, like a security node or a computer terminal that they must keep safe for a period of time while they’re overrun with Grimm. In game terms this means that you have to fight each of four or five structured waves of enemies, with the next one beginning once you’ve killed all of the enemies from the last. Once all five waves are defeated you’re rewarded with a single line of dialogue and are whisked on to the next level to do the same thing all over again. It’s a pattern that repeats throughout the entire campaign with only the crescendo offering any real deviation.
What’s frustrating about Grimm Eclipse is that it succeeds in the visual and sound departments and gives the impression that it could be so much more. The art direction in the game is beautiful, with the cel-shaded character and enemy models matching those of the show wonderfully. The protagonists combat animations are very well done too, adding some elaborate visuals to the combos rained down by Ruby and her pals. It isn’t all golden in the graphics department though, with the textures being rather low-res and the poor shadowing looking out of place against the nicely cel-shaded environments.
The absolute best thing about the Grimm Eclipse is the thumping soundtrack that blasts out during the fight scenes. Fans of the series will tell you that the soundtrack is immense and it’s no different in the game – there’s some fantastic guitar shredding that punctuates the action, and could have really added to the excitement if the combat wasn’t so rinse-and-repeat. The series voice actors reprise their roles for the game and were decent for the most part; and though the limited script was rather hokey, I’m much more inclined to give it a pass as I (frustratingly) don’t know the backgrounds of the characters.
The campaign can be played alone, but is significantly more lively when played with another player in local co-op, or with a maximum of three other players in *online co-op. In addition to the campaign you can jump into two co-op only survival modes; ‘Grimm Gauntlet’, that sees you and your teammates facing endless waves of Grimm until every member of the team falls, or ‘Horde Mode’, where players must work together to protect three Security Nodes using their standard attacks and turrets that can be purchased and placed around the map . These survival modes, while limited, are the most enjoyable elements of the game and are undoubtedly where players will spend most of their play time.
As this is the Definitive Edition of the game, you get the JNPR DLC that allows you to play as Jaune, Nora, Pyrrha or Lie from Team JNPR, as well as all previously released costume DLCs, so you can have fun trying out memorable looks from the series as you play through the game. Unfortunately all of the characters play in the same way, and with the progression being outrageously grindy, I can’t see why you’d put the effort into playing the game multiple times to unlock all of their attacks and abilities.
All told, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse – Definitive Edition is a game that feels more like a proof of concept than a fully fledged game, and its origins as a fan project are evident. I really do hate being so down on a game, especially when Grimm Eclipse shows off the raw ingredients needed to make a good game – strong visuals, a great soundtrack, and the basics of a solid combat system, but they’re pulled out of the pan long before they’re cooked into a tasty meal. Given more variation in the level designs, a bigger roster of enemies, and any attempt at storytelling, Grimm Eclipse could have been a delicious morsel indeed. Sadly though, I feel that the game doesn’t do the vibrant hit series justice in any way, and Grimm Eclipse is less Shining Beacon and more Creature from the Grimm.
In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher provided VGamingNews with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.
*Nintendo Switch Online membership required for online multiplayer (unlike the Steam version, which is, of course, free to play multiplayer)