Solo Leveling: Arise needs to level up its game

In the vast landscape of anime game adaptations, where successes are often overshadowed by disappointments, Netmarble’s Solo Leveling: Arise comes as a positive surprise. Riding the wave of the anime’s global popularity, this action-packed RPG defies the odds, delivering an immersive experience that stays true to the source material. But despite its strengths, there are a few features and mechanics that will frustrate even the most casual players.

When I first started playing Solo Leveling: Arise, I was more feeble than mankind’s weakest hunter. But thanks to thorough tutorials and intense training, I quickly leveled up, jumping from E-gates to A-gates in no time. I’d stepped into the captivating story from a beloved webtoon—now anime—and my excitement was tangible. 

But if I’m to become the Shadow Monarch, I’ll do so through my own blood, sweat, and tears, not by sitting back watching an auto-farmer. And neither should you. 

Solo Leveling Arise needs to level up its game
The Blue Venom-Fanged Kasaka gets a scary upgrade in the game, but you will still defeat it. Screenshot by Dot Esports

At the heart of Solo Leveling: Arise lies a narrative that seamlessly intertwines with the webtoon anime’s storyline, giving you a deeper dive into the captivating world of hunters and dungeons. You step into the shoes of Sung Jinwoo as you embark on his journey from mankind’s weakest hunter to the most powerful Monarch. 

Solo Leveling: Arise doesn’t just retell the story, it expands it by offering additional chapters and side quests that delve deeper into the Solo Leveling universe. You also learn more about the Solo Leveling universe thanks to the Codex. It catalogs all the hunters, weapons, items, runes, and armor you can obtain, adding a small description that gives you a captivating glimpse into their stories.

While some aspects work well, Solo Leveling: Arise has a busy interface that can be confusing at first, with waves of tutorials that will keep you locked down for at least the first hour of the game. The inundation of information and occasional glitches disrupt your immersion, especially on mobile platforms where accessibility and user-friendliness are critical.

But despite these shortcomings, Solo Leveling: Arise’s simple yet effective combat system lets you experience Jinwoo’s evolution firsthand, breathing life into the character’s remarkable transformation. You can pick your weapon of choice and choose which skills to use in combat, tailoring Jinwoo’s skillset to your preferences. Personally, though, I chose to live out the fantasy of becoming the Shadow Monarch by sticking with the default settings and abilities. 

The crisp animations and striking visual effects add an extra touch of fantasy to the action, but one feature kills the fun, an auto-farming mechanic. While it might be useful, it defeats the entire point of the story: To be the sole hunter who can level up and become the strongest. 

Solo Leveling: Arise includes a diverse array of game modes, all of which I’ve yet to fully explore. But with all this variety, it seems like there’s something for everyone, whether you’re just starting or you’ve already reached the endgame. 

Story mode immerses you in thrilling episodes that mirror Jinwoo’s journey, combining interactive encounters with 3D-animated sequences and webtoon-like cutscenes. It’s a nice touch that stays true to the game’s origins, but it could have been better executed, especially the new 3D-animated dialogue sequences that don’t live up to the beautifully menacing art style of the webtoon.

Gates, Encore missions, and Instance Dungeons, on the other hand, offer an exciting glimpse into Solo Leveling’s expansive world. But despite the potential, they lack depth and have frustratingly repetitive gameplay. To make matters worse, outside the original story, the main Lobby and side quests are littered with underwhelming NPC interactions that diminishes the overall experience.

But the most controversial features are Solo Leveling: Arise’s gacha system and its multiple currencies. You’ll collect Gold coins, Essence Stones, and Diamonds, each of which serves a different purpose, with Diamonds purchasable with real money. You need Diamonds to buy Essence Stones, which you need for gacha tickets that let you spin for a chance at getting new hunters.

While it isn’t very rewarding, the gacha system in Solo Leveling: Arise doesn’t feel as frustrating as other games. It helps that the drop rates are fully transparent and that you can check them in-game. But the system’s existence is sure to deter some potential players or frustrate others to the point of abandoning the game.

Besides the main game modes, there are various mini-games within Solo Leveling: Arise that add even more variety to the experience. From rolling dice for rewards to engaging in daily missions and exploring hunter previews, there’s always something to do, with plenty to enjoy beyond completing the main story mode. It should keep you entertained for at least a couple of hours each day. 

But as I delve deeper and get closer to collecting every available character and item, I find myself wondering what lies ahead—beyond becoming the sole Monarch. There’s plenty of room for improvement, starting with the dialogue and voice lines that pull you away from the fantasy. Though it’s not an S-rank game, Solo Leveling: Arise is an immersive way to experience the story that captivated millions of fans worldwide, and it’s worth trying if you’d like a shot at facing the Monarch of Destruction with your own talent.

Players can pre-register for Solo Leveling: Arise now, on PC and mobile.

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