In this roundup, we’re checking out RWBY: Arrowfell, Bones of Halloween and Tad – The Lost Explorer – three action-packed games that came out recently.
RWBY: Arrowfell review (PS4)
WayForward’s RWBY: Arrowfell isn’t the first video game based on the show, but it’s been a while since Grimm Eclipse so we were curious to see how this action adventure would pan out. And as it comes with an original story that ties into the events of the story, complete with matching cutscenes and music, it delivers extremely well on fan service. In the story, heroes Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang find a strange and ominous device that seems to attract Grimm. After disabling it, they want to know who built and sent it, and before long that quest puts them on a collision course with Team BRIR, a new antagonist designed just for this game.
Gameplay-wise, RWBY: Arrowfell treads familiar ground for fans of WayForward’s previous work, so you won’t be surprised to find out this is a 2D action adventure in which platforming and combat are combined. There’s a sprinkling of RPG and Metroidvania in there as well, but ultimately it’ll feel familiar and the RWBY layer that was added on top is the most interesting aspect of the game.
That RWBY element also brings some diversity to the gameplay, as each character of the team has their own unique moves, from dashing to special magical attacks. Skill points can be used to apply upgrades, but if you apply them all to a single character then it negates the use of switching between team members a little – the rest will be way less powerful and kind of useless, which is a shame for the dynamic of the game.
The basic mission structure doesn’t help either – while the story is entertaining, much of what you’re doing in the game is not much more than simple quests that don’t have too much depth to them. The platforming and combat are serviceable and will keep RWBY fans engaged throughout the campaign, but are otherwise unremarkable. The boss fights are an exception though – they are well designed, offering the right kind of challenge and mixing up different attack patterns between battles. There are better 2D action adventures out there, but RWBY fans will find plenty to like here.
Bones of Halloween review (PS4)
Frequent collaborators Petite Games and Ratalaika (they worked together on games like Arenas of Tanks and Bouncy Bullets before) have joined forces yet again to bring us Bones of Halloween, a first person shooter themed around a certain holiday we just had. The short summary: try to survive against waves of skeletons with pumpkins as their heads.
That may not sound super exciting, and Bones of Halloween is rather simple its premise and execution. A single map is where all the action takes place, there is essentially just a single enemy type (though the skeletons come equipped with different weapons) and there’s no story either. There are five different survival modes to play though, as well as a series of challenges that are linked to achievements. They can be fun (we enjoyed being handed a rocket launcher in a level where all the enemies explode on impact), but a lot of the fun is unfortunately short-lived.
Bones of Halloween can feel like a cheap and easy cash-in for Halloween, but it does have a few mechanics that make it interesting for an hour or two. Coins can be grabbed to upgrade your arsenal of weapons, and there’s an interesting card-based game that regularly pops up where picking a card makes the game either harder or easier. But with unremarkable visuals, a lack of diversity and somewhat clunky gunplay, this is a game you’ll pick up if you feel like you’re in a “Halloween” kind of mood but will probably not go back to easily.
Tad – The Lost Explorer review (PS4)
Gammera Nest’s Tad – The Lost Explorer is out now for PlayStation and PC, with a Nintendo Switch version in the works. It’s based around the Spanish-produced animated feature film that was released about a decade ago and provides a family-friendly action adventure in which you go on an adventure around the world, hitting different continents in your search for the emerald tablet.
Tad is, like the animated feature that came before, a somewhat obvious reference to Indiana Jones. Heck, the lead character’s full name is Tadeo Jones, and he even wears a fedora hat. We’re not complaining though, as we love Indiana Jones and Tad – The Lost Explorer isn’t trying to copy it, it has its own playful, more family-oriented and cartoony feel to it.
The Lost Explorer is a 3D action adventure at heart, but also features 2D platforming sections, small stealth elements, puzzles and a bit of combat. Combine that with a story-driven campaign (which, not having seen the film, was fun to follow to its conclusion), and this is a fully featured game at a budget price point, which is always a nice surprise.
The cartoon-like visuals are nice for a budget title, with some excellent lighting effects and good bit of diversity between locations. The story unfolds over the course of four chapters, each one providing a lengthy challenge for a total gameplay experience that should last four to six hours. With a few visual glitches and a few clunky sections (vehicles don’t handle great) it’s not perfect, but we had a blast with Tad – The Lost Explorer and look forward to checking the film out next.