Archvale Review (Switch eShop) | Nintendo’s life
It really does feel like we’re in some sort of extended rebirth of a ‘bullet hell’, doesn’t it? As soon as the developers realized that the subgenre didn’t need to be limited to vertical scrolling linear shmups, we saw some new takes that breathe new life into other genres. Archvale is a top-down 2D adventure title mashup in The Legend of Zelda vein, with hellish dual-stick shooting mechanics as the main hook; quite similar, therefore, to the recently released Trigger Witch.
Unlike Trigger Witch, however, Archvale is more like a traditional fantasy adventure game; there are no crazy modern weapons or exaggerated blood and blood. Instead, Archvale focuses on challenging gameplay, exploration, and progression through crafting and leveling. It’s a meager experience, but also one that hides a lot of secrets and fun information that naturally extends its range without feeling unnecessarily or artificially bloated.
The story itself is pleasantly straightforward, with little lore or backstory to bog down the gameplay from moment to moment. You play as an adventurer who must travel a diverse country and explore dungeons in order to defeat the world of the Immortals; the living remains of a cruel king who roam the land and spit ungodly amounts of “bullets.” Along the way, you’ll hunt down the legendary Archstones, collect gold, loot ore, and build your character to become the most formidable and agile warrior in the land.
Of course, to do this you will need a few weapons, and there is a parcel to choose. You have your standard weapons like swords, daggers, and spears, but you can also branch out into ranged weapons with bows and arrows or boomerangs, and even a hint of witchcraft with fire tomes and staves. . The good thing is that virtually all of Archvale’s weapons appear viable. We all love to choose weapons that are comfortable and reliable, but Archvale encourages experimentation by making each of its large selection powerful and intuitive.
Not only that, but as you explore the land you will be able to loot new materials like iron, gold, obsidian, bad, etc. You can then use them to craft new, more powerful versions of your favorite weapons on anvils in local towns. Crafting and customizing are easy in Archvale; there is no need to grind or dig rare materials, everything you will need is organically gathered as you explore new areas of the map.
You will also need to make sure to constantly improve your character, as combat is Red hard. It’s all skill-based, so you’ll need to strike the right balance between unleashing a quick offensive on your enemies and dodging incoming attacks. Often times you will find yourself facing multiple types of enemies at once, especially in the later stages. It is therefore essential to keep an eye on each of their attack patterns in order to survive.
The same goes for boss fights. Boss characters themselves have multiple moves that shoot a dense range of bullets in all directions, but they’ll also often call on standard enemies to help them out, especially when their health is dropping. Not keeping an eye out for humble grunts while focusing fire on the main boss is a sure way to ensure a quick reboot at the last checkpoint.
The game includes three difficulty levels when you start up. We started the game on Medium, and while it Is gradually make it easier for you, the latter parts of the game were horribly difficult, almost to the point where we almost threw in the towel and started over on Easy. This, for some people, can turn out to be a bit of a problem. There is currently no way to change the difficulty during play, so if you find it a bit difficult (or want a harder experience), then you will have to start from scratch with a separate file – we decided that we had passed the point of no return, and therefore just fed.
In addition to crafting weapons and armor, cities offer a welcome change of pace from the fierce fighting the game faces. You will have access to a range of different services, including a bank where you can store your gold, several traders who will sell you magical clothes, stats buffs and other trinkets, and blacksmiths who will be happy to donate your weapons. a little help in exchange for shiny coins. There are plenty of people to chat with, but we wish there were characters to meet in the wild (although from a story standpoint it makes sense that they would remain confined to the safety of cities. ).
Graphically, the game looks pretty much like a lot of modern “retro” titles on the market already, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While not entirely original in its artistic style, Archvale is an incredibly elegant game nonetheless. It operates at a speed of 60 FPS, even with a screen full of bullets, so combat is effortless. Enemies display health bars above their heads and you can see the damage counters flashing as you attack, but none of it feels intrusive or out of place. Simply works. The environments are also fabulous, with varying colors and tones as you move from biome to biome.
And if you’re up for some co-op action, Archvale also includes local multiplayer for you and a friend to unleash carnage together. Frame rate remains solid during multiplayer sessions, and taking out enemies is much more manageable when you have an extra pair of hands to help you out. Definitely a game to try if you are looking for an engaging couch co-op play.
Archvale is a triumphant bullet-hell / RPG genre mashup. While you can argue how similar it is to a recent release or two, it trumps the competition with incredibly smooth combat, simple and satisfying progression, and varied environments and enemies. The difficulty increases sharply as you progress to the later levels, so not being able to change the difficulty on the fly can be a bit of a problem for some players. Keep going, though, and you’ll find Archvale to be one of the most satisfying dual-stick games available today.