I love a good genre mash-up, and Archvale is a great one: role-playing game with some soulslike influence meets twin-stick shooter. Throw on top a bit of bullet hell, and you have a pretty exciting concept for a video game. Archvale is a twin-stick, bullet hell role-playing game. In it, you play as a chosen one character with the ability to defeat the Undying— evil beings cursed with immortality. It’s your job to explore the different regions, fight the enemies and bosses you meet along the way, and bring peace to the land. It’s a pretty generic premise, but it’s enough to get you dodging bullets and flinging projectiles. Since Archvale is primarily a twin stick shooter, there are plenty of ways to shoot—including using melee weapons, which actually fling short ranged projectiles.
It’s not just about dealing damage in Archvale, but also avoiding it. Many encounters will have you weaving through sheets of projectiles. Thankfully, there is also a dodge ability that gives you invincibility. You’re limited on how many times you can dodge in succession, however, but it does come in clutch.
Archvale’s world is made up of several different regions, each with their own enemies and even resources to gather. Some areas are more difficult than others, and it’s technically possible to sequence break if you’d like an additional challenge—or just want more powerful items.
There are multiple different safe havens—usually towns—that you can travel to to upgrade items, purchase equipment, and craft using material you collected. While each of these towns is full of NPCs to interact with, memorable interactions are few and far between.
Archvale is mostly about its twin stick action, and it’s a fun game with tight controls. It borrows from games like Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls, with items that act like heart containers, using fountains as checkpoints and providing places to replenish healing flasks.
There is a lot of good going for Archvale, but it’s not perfect. It tends to feel a little generic, even despite its bright, impressive pixel art graphics. I’m also a little annoyed with how roguelike it feels, despite technically not being a roguelike at all. Once you enter into a new area, you are forced to fight the enemies there until they are defeated. It’s possible to teleport between checkpoints to avoid confrontations, but I would have preferred not being forced to fight every enemy to the death before being allowed to move on. But being forced to fight isn’t the worst, because Archvale does have fun combat—and Archvale does a good job giving you options in how you want to approach that combat.
There aren’t really skills to put points into in Archvale. Instead, progression is done mostly through gear you find, purchase, or craft. There are also badges that you can equip to increase your mastery of melee, magic, ranged, etc. This creates a highly modular and modifiable system that allows you to tweak your character exactly how you want it, and allows you to switch between different “builds” without having to respect or fumble with skill points.
Archvale is a bright, tight twin stick shooter that isn’t perfect. It has more fun than it has flaws, however, it can’t ride on good combat alone. Its world and presentation, despite being bright and attractive, feel generic, and well-trod. I definitely recommend Archvale for those who like twin stick shooters and bullet hell style games, but even then, it leans a little on the easy side.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review.