While the days of every major animated film having a tie-in video game may be over, there are still quite a few franchises that expand beyond their initial medium and elbow their way into the world of video games, for better or for worse. With Rooster Teeth having its start on the video game side of YouTube, it’s hardly a surprise they would delve into games themselves. While RWBY: Grimm Eclipse has been around for a few years, a recent re-release for the Definitive Edition has thrust it back into the spotlight, but while fans of the show will likely get a kick out of playing as some of their favorite characters, Grimm Eclipse is not an accessible point of entry for newcomers.
Over the course of Grimm Eclipse, players will fight wave after wave of Grimm to get to the bottom of why the security network has been breached. Guided by leaders from Huntsman Academy, players can pick one of eight characters from the show to fight as. As they battle their way through levels, they’ll receive information drops from characters like Professor Port about where to go and what’s happening. Players will have to fend off Grimm and make their way through various levels in order to uncover the truth.
While the story isn’t incredibly robust, the part where it suffers the most is from the lack of explanation. Grimm Eclipse relies heavily on players already understanding things like remnant and Grimm. There is little to no explanation of existing plot points, dropping players in between seasons of the show. Even playable characters are not allowed the simplest of explanations, so newcomers trying to understand a character’s powers can be somewhat tricky.
RWBY: Grimm Eclipse provides a fun and entertaining system that provides a variety of options for playstyles. The controls are simple so anyone with vague familiarity with fighting games should be able to latch on quickly. Most levels in the game are repetitive with players running through various areas fighting off Grimm, though a few require players to defend a tower against waves of enemies or push a minecart that’s about to explode to a safe location. There also isn’t much to explore in each level, which means players will essentially drop into a level, defeat the enemies, and be done.
The variety of characters is the biggest strength of Grimm Eclipse. With eight different characters consisting of Team RWBY and Team JNPR (the latter of which were DLC only characters in the original release), there are a variety of play styles to choose from. Some are more equipped for those who prefer long-range combat while others will find more success with characters who specialize in up-close fighting. Each character has a special ultimate ability, though some are far more effective at wiping out enemies than others. It’s possible to go through the game multiple times, learning each character’s skill set and upgrading them to their max potential.
The upgrade system works based on a skill tree, allowing the purchase of specific bonuses with points earned as characters levels up. While some of the skills are specialized to certain characters, there are a few that are handy for any character such as the ability to revive another character faster. The skill trees allow for some interesting customization and force critical thought about what is needed on the current level before spending points. Although the system is relatively simple, it still provides players the opportunity to add a little strategy to the hack and slash.
Throughout the game, players will run into hordes of Grimm as they travel through the various maps until they make it to their goal or are forced to defend against multiple waves of enemies. The combat is simple, but it can get overwhelming when facing off against four or more Grimm at once during single player mode. It also winds up being incredibly repetitive, especially after upgrading characters significantly.
Each character has multiple moves they can execute and powerups will make these moves stronger. While the playstyles of each character are similar, some characters have better long-range capabilities than others. Certain ultimates are also far more effective than others at wiping out enemies. Learning the ins and outs of the playable characters can go a long way to keep things from getting repetitive. This is especially handy as new enemies encountered are generally older ones that have gotten stronger.
Grimm Eclipse features three modes: single player, online multiplayer, and local multiplayer. Local multiplayer is the big new feature to be added in the Definitive Edition, and it is not worth it. While it can be incredibly fun to talk to the person playing right next to you, the screen does not divide accordingly based on players and instead forces you both to share one screen and in turn a singular camera. This means if the two players find themselves running in separate directions, the camera will stick with one player and leave the other to their own devices. Being unable to see both player characters at once becomes especially frustrating in levels where splitting up would be beneficial, such as the level where players must use Dust to power a minecart.
This mode also becomes frustrating when one player goes down. The screen utilizes a wall of text to tell the surviving player to revive their compatriot; however, this results in a significant loss of vision for the remaining player. It’s an extremely unhelpful addition when the player is possibly already struggling to fight off Grimm by themselves. While single and online multiplayer are fine, local multiplayer results in far more frustration than fun.
RWBY isn’t necessarily known for its quality of art and animation; Grimm Eclipse, however, is still pleasant to look at. A highlight is the character selection screen, which provides lovely sprites for each playable character. There are multiple outfits for each character based off of seasons and events and scrolling through each character’s selection to see the different variations can be fun. Aside from this, the 3D models for the player characters are fine and the backgrounds and enemies are detailed enough.
RWBY is well known for its music on the other hand, releasing volumes of content from the volumes of the show. Jeff Williams, composer for the show, wrote and performed an original song for the end credits. All remaining music is background score, which doesn’t particularly stand out. Some of the ambience when running through the forest between Grimm fights is quite beautiful and calming. The rest of the music is fairly simple, mostly tying into whatever is happening in the moment and supporting the fights.
Most of the voice acting found throughout the game comes from the playable characters. All the team members have little things they say as they run through the levels or punch bad guys. While some phrases are cute, a few moves characters perform while fighting are very repetitive in timbre and get annoying quite fast. Other voice acting comes from teachers at the school and the villain, who all give fun and campy performances consistent with the RWBY show. Rooster Teeth has roped some notable voice talent into its ranks over the years and those who are new have gained significant experience, making the performances a fun addition to the game.
Grimm Eclipse does have some replay value built into it. Since players build each character as they go through a campaign, they can play through the entire story eight times and have very different playthroughs. Online multiplayer features different modes where players fight off endless hordes of Grimm, and a second party is not required to fight them, adding a bit of extra run time to the game as well. People who like experiencing the same story through different lenses will likely have fun with this.
While RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is a fun romp through Rooster Teeth’s world, it’s difficult to say a “Definitive Edition” was necessary. For any RWBY fans who didn’t play the initial PC release, they may enjoy journeying through the campaign and trying out the powers of their favorite character, however, for anyone who played through the game already, the only benefits to this edition are the DLC being included and the addition of couch co-op, the latter of which is too frustrating to be entertaining. Anyone hoping to use this as a launch pad to get into the RWBY franchise would be making a big mistake. Still, if the game is found on sale, a weekend spent hacking and slashing a path through Grimm might be worth spending some time.
Final rating: 7/10.