RWBY Arrowfell – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed and published by WayForward in collaboration with Arc System Works and Rooster Teeth, RWBY Arrowfell is an action adventure set in the world of the animated series. As team RWBY, complete quests and missions to solve the mysteries that unfold, while also encountering familiar faces from the series. This title is available on all console platforms and PC, with links to each version of the game available at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank WayForward for providing the copy of RWBY Arrowfell that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be skipping the story segment as it may contain spoilers for the series, however this title can be enjoyed with limited knowledge of the show. So it is time to go straight into the gameplay.

Gameplay – RWBY Arrowfell is an action adventure, with Metroidvania style side-scrolling action, character focused storytelling and cinematic cutscenes (styled after the show). Battle wave after wave of Grimm and other enemies, solving puzzles and using each characters unique skills to complete missions. The game is broken up into chapters with story scenes, character interactions and challenging boss battles pushing the narrative forward.

As the story of each chapter progresses, new areas for the player to explore will open up. These zones are made up of “rooms” that may contain enemies, destructible objects and treasures to collect. These areas will also contain platforms and puzzles, which the player must use each characters unique skills to overcome. The player has an energy bar that acts as health, with hearts as lives that are lost if damage is taken with no energy and a game over if all are lost.

The energy bar can be refilled by defeating enemies, breaking objects and using items purchased from merchants (discussed below). As well as the energy refills, coins and hearts (if any have been lost) can be collected from enemies/objects that have been destroyed. At set points during some missions, there are ambush encounters where the player must fend off several waves of enemies. These battles are challenging and can lead to a quick defeat if unprepared.

If the player is defeated in battle they will usually be returned to the start of the stage. However, if the player was able to reach a save point, they will be returned to that point rather than the start of the zone. Save points will also fully heal the team, refilling the hearts and energy meter if depleted. During the game, the player can freely switch between the members of the team, which allows multiple character skills to be used in quick succession.

Enemies encountered in the zones will change as the game progresses, becoming stronger and more deadly. This extends to the way that enemies look, from the Grimm that roam open spaces and caves, to the human thugs that use guns and heavy weapons. To survive these encounters, players must strengthen their party by levelling the members of Team RWBY with Skill Points (discussed further below).

Each member of team RWBY has the same move set that can be used, with their unique abilities taken from the show itself. Here is a breakdown of the skills that players can use;

  • Melee Attack – characters have a close quarters attack that will deal damage to any enemy that makes contact with it. Each member of the team has a reach and attack speed that is unique to them, as well as damage amounts that will vary depending on that character. For instance, Yang can attack quickly but does the lowest amount of damage.
  • Ranged Attack – all characters have their own unique ranged attack, with speed and damage that is unique to them. Each ranged attack also uses the energy meter, with each shot taken draining part of the energy away. The amount of energy and power varies with each character, with Yang dealing the least damage at the lowest cost and Weiss the highest.
  • Semblance – these are the special powers that the members of team RWBY can use to overcome obstacles in their path. Each skill can be combined with others to make it possible to get through the puzzles in the areas, like Ruby has a dash to cross gaps and Yang can destroy blocks.

There is a heavy focus on exploration in this title, with branching pathways and hidden treasures that can be discovered. Scattered throughout the world, there are many chests that can be found and opened. These chests can contain several things including quest items, but most commonly they contain Skill Points. These can be used to strengthen the individual members of Team RWBY, as each member has their own stats.

The stats that players can strengthen are melee attack, ranged attack, defence and energy recovery. With each one being upgraded a maximum 4 times each. Each upgrade powers up that specific character, making them stronger and more durable in battle. As well as the skill points, there are also special upgrades that can be obtained by completing missions. These upgrades power up the semblance for that character, making some obstacles easier to manage.

As a game that utilizes some Metroidvania mechanics, there is a lot of backtracking that will need to be done. This is most prevalent with quests, which can include obtaining items from previously explored areas. These objectives can also be tied to each other, where one will provide the needed items for another. The only issue with this is there is no map for action zones, which can cause players to get lost as they try to locate items or other characters.

The last thing to discuss is the safe zones and NPC characters that can be encountered. Throughout the game, there are towns and safe areas that the player can go to. These spaces will contain NPC characters for the player to talk to, which will give info about the environment and provide quests to push the story forward (and open new areas). There are also merchants that can be located in these towns, offering a variety of wares for the player to purchase.

The stock that each merchant will hold varies from location to location, but they will carry essential items, like health and energy increases. The merchants also stock important items like skill points and Hearts that will cost a lot to purchase, however, they will help the player in the long run. Returning to merchants to stock up on items can be the difference between success and failure, so collecting coins to buy items may require some grinding.

Now with the gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the controls.

Controls – this release has a solid control layout, with no issues when it comes to input lag or delay. The button layout for the actions is comfortable to use, with actions, skills and team switching all being easy to access, with snappy and responsive inputs in game. The ability to switch team members with the right stick is also a good addition, that helps keep the pace nice and fast. The game is comfortable with both pro-controllers and Joy-Cons in any console set up.

Difficulty – this is a challenging title, with the Metroidvania style of gameplay working in the favour of the game for the most part. There is no selectable difficulty option, but through grinding coins support items can be bought in bulk, making difficult sections more manageable. If players are unprepared or haven’t powered up team RWBY, defeat can come quickly which can be a significant setback, losing coins and items collected.

Presentation – RWBY Arrowfell is pleasing to the eye, with a polished anime style to the artwork for text interactions between characters and stylized character models. There are also cinematic scenes that use the same style of animation as the show, which are done very well but are few and far between. This is unfortunate as these scenes are dynamic and emphasise the events that unfold within the narrative, pushing the story forward in more a compelling way.

The sound direction for this game is very good, with a soundtrack that encapsulates the spirit of the source material. The music that is used for the battle areas and safe zones has its own feel that works very well. This is most apparent during the opening stage, where the special theme created for this game plays, featuring singer Casey Lee Williams. The voice work is another high point featuring the cast of the show, however, it isn’t used as much as it could be.  

Final Thoughts – I am a lapsed fan of RWBY, having only seen the first few volumes so I am not as informed as some. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the game, as I still knew some of the characters that appeared. I do feel that those with a passing knowledge of the series can also enjoy this, as the narrative is straight forward and a lot of information is provided via character dialogue. It can be a difficult game, but it is also an enjoyable one.

However, there are some flaws to the experience provided. The lack of map display in the stages caused me to get lost often while exploring, and while this wasn’t frustrating for me it may be for others. There is also the constant backtracking between areas for missions, which can become tedious without a way to effectively find a route from point A to B. But even with these minor issues, I can recommend this game as it is a solid action title and a good companion to the RWBY series.

In the end, I give RWBY Arrowfell a final score of 4/5. This is a good action adventure, with a narrative and gameplay that can keep players engaged for the full experience, alongside elements of the presentation that make this a perfect companion to the series. If you want to check this out for yourself, a link to each version of the game is below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

Link to PlayStation version (HERE)

Link to Xbox version (HERE)

Link to Steam version (HERE)

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