Review – Archvale –

Archvale is a new game with an old-school look that takes place in the future. Combining fast paced combat and strategic gameplay, it’s easy to see why Archvale has been praised by reviewers as one of 2019’s best MMO games.

The “archvale demo” is a game that was released in 2016. The game has been well received by critics and players alike.

It’s a tricky sector to navigate when it comes to mixing and blending genres in order to create a unique and memorable gaming experience. Action RPGs, Visual Novel Simulations, and Time Management Waifu are just a few examples of creative pairings. Bullet hell, also known as danmaku, is a strange game to mix since it is an extremely hard game genre in and of itself. When you add more to the mix, whether it’s an unified tale or a different theme, it might detract from the dodge and graze’s overall beauty. Thankfully, independent devs idoz & phops, as well as Humble Bundle, remembered what makes bullet hell so much fun: the high, stressful probability of dying. Archvale, on the other hand, is a continual, screaming reminder of death’s creeping hand at every step. Joy!

Archvale, like all excellent bullet hell games, features an intriguing, deep plot that you can choose to pay attention to or ignore. Have you ever attempted to learn more about Ikaruga’s story? It’ll be an adventure. Anyway, you play as an anonymous protagonist in a kingdom formerly tormented by an insane and terrible monarch who created The Undying, a legion of never-ending creatures that refuse to die. There’s also discussion of the mythical Archvale, which may or might not be how the king was exiled, and you get the idea that you’re going to restore peace and remove the not-zombies and all that stuff. You’re a hero, after all, and you’re going to do heroic things. This isn’t Payback; you’re the good guy, and the evil guy is over there, so go stab him with one of the various weapons you’ll find. Also, utilize a controller while doing so. Have faith in me.



Enter the Gungeon cosplaying as A Link to the Past is the best way I can explain Archvale. Far from being procedural, the unnamed hero must go over Archvale’s map in search of various cities and locales, gradually opening the path ahead via a sequence of artifacts and missions that aren’t truly quests. A stone wall, for example, will block an early passage, which you may access if you’ve successfully liberated the explosives from your first dungeon. Then you must decide whether to continue on your original course or investigate the recently bombed country. The game’s many save sites (represented by sanctuary-esque statues) also serve as teleporters, so don’t feel obligated to go too far down one path before turning around: you can always zip-zap to another spot and resume your exploration from there.

By conveying their tale via a pixelated medium, idoz & phops done an excellent job of ticking off several important boxes for Archvale to really reach their audience. On the one hand, it transports you to the 8-16 bit age of adventure RPGs, but it also reminds me of more recent games such as Slayin’ or even Underhero. Archvale has made a limited investment on their appearance in order to squeeze as much information as possible into the screen. Y

On the other side, since there are so many pixels, they can flood you with bullets, adversaries, and background noise without worrying about the game being too demanding on your machine, though I’m wondering how this works on other platforms. Trying to play the game on hard while in full screen on my PC resulted in slowdowns even in the early stages: I could only progress if I kept it in a windowed display. I understand, and I don’t think I lost out on anything by having to compress down my gameplay, but I didn’t appreciate being forced to do so in order to minimize latency and stuttering as I progressed.


Pictured is me, in the midst of being smashed by a dreadful Great Slime.

I was confident about Archvale at the beginning, and I believe this was done on purpose. I jumped into the full event assuming I was in the proper spot after a brief runthrough explanation of how to manage the game. After all, I’ve already completed Gungeon. Isaac, I’ve completed my task. I’ve even done several Touhou games, but not very successfully. And you get the impression right away that you’ve got everything under control. Your character progressively walks through various slimes and bats, each of which discharges a tiny spread of projectiles, using one input to move and another to determine aiming direction (game controller twinstick for the win!).

You don’t even need to utilize the dodge option at first, which enables you to dive past bullets without taking damage and also allows you to pass specific limits without receiving damage (rivers, gaps, etc.). Most adversaries can be circle strafed and the attack button hammered till the cows come home. There are a variety of melee and ranged weaponry available, albeit even melee weapons have some range. You can choose your playstyle fast since there is a tradeoff between damage and distance. Do you want to be uncomfortably near to everyone and everything, or do you prefer to spray from a safe distance? You don’t even have to stick to one option or the other. The throwing axe, for example, does decent damage while still allowing you to breathe.

However, the game takes a sharp turn for the worst as you confront your first mini monster (a giant slime). Archvale starts heaping on the missiles and monster sprites as quickly as you can keep up with them, even on standard difficulty (I picked two save games to run concurrently). Multiple wave types start to arise, as the mobs’ aggressiveness and resolve skyrocket. Now you’ve got roly-poly badgers freaking out and spraying bullets all over the place. On both extremes of the scale, warlocks will join up with flail-swinging knights to keep you fatigued. The health potions, which appeared overpowering at first, are now a necessary sacrifice every few rooms as you decide if you can wait out for one more room (and hope for relief) or whether you’ll risk three scary seconds of inaction to guzzle and gain a few hearts back.


MAXILLA, a one-eyed sorceress, is going to murder me? My guidance counselor was absolutely correct!

This is when I start to have doubts about the marriage of Archvale’s two gametypes. Sure, they handle the RPG component well, with a plethora of elements that I believe are well-balanced among the many townships and settings. You gain crafting components from destroying various landscape fixtures, and you may use them to create new weapons that you can switch between at any time during combat, switching between a bow, a spear, a sword, and, my personal favorite, a literal Bag of Knives.

You may buy or construct new armor to absorb some damage, and the banks in each town act as a safe haven for your money, not to prohibit you from utilizing it but to keep you from losing it. Because each bank can only retain a certain amount of money, successful adventurers must constantly open new accounts in order to keep their great fortunes safe. You gather artifacts and other goods to get access to extra health points, dodge slots, and even passive badge artifacts that enhance your gameplay (greater chance of enemies dropping healing items, more gold, et cetera). There are even a few NPCs to provide color and guidance if you have your head on sideways.

However, as you enter the dungeons of Archvale, which contain all of the game’s components, the game gets really tough. You fight to stay alive by ducking and firing like a guy on fire from room to room. You can’t go back to a save point to heal since that’ll only respawn all the monsters, and there’s no EXP in this game: the only reason to grind against foes is to earn more crafting gear and cash, which quickly runs out as you go from town to town.

Instead, this puts the “hell” in bullet hell, and it’s almost a welcome break from all the lighter and semi-engaging overworld things you’ve been doing. By the time I killed the first boss, my fingers were aching, and I had to take a pause to recuperate before being slain by marauders. Perhaps I should have stayed with the keyboard and mouse? In any case, the difficulty of it all is evident inside the dungeons, and Archvale clearly distinguishes between “normal” and “hard” once you reach these realms.


Show some respect for those fountains, young lady, for they keep the lights on!

So, what does this mean for the typical gamer? Well, for fans of the bullet-heavy twin-stick shooter (I don’t mean to keep mentioning Enter the Gungeon, but man, it checks all the boxes), Archvale is a refreshing change of pace, combining a fantasy theme with a touch of humor and a simple but intriguing storyline. This is substantially more difficult for those who prefer 2D action RPGs, although it is still pretty accessible on the Easy level (and short enough that you can and will want to do multiple runs). I would recommend Archvale above other, comparable games to folks who don’t have a personal interest in either.

It’s well-designed, friendly, and well-explained both in story and gameplay. It’s also extremely open while remaining focused on the game’s direction. To be honest, I’m thinking about getting this for the Switch at some time. I don’t believe that sitting down and playing Archvale for long periods of time is the best way to enjoy all of the mayhem the game has to offer, but interspersing dungeon action with other activities and then focusing when you’re in the overworld for longer, more relaxing explorations is the key to success. In any event, whether you’re looking for a deep dive into some real reflex testing or simply a never-ending adventure, Archvale offers a blend that, although not for everyone, is undoubtedly powerful and unique.

Bullets and bodies are clearly distinguished by bulky pixels, but the clunky aesthetic may not appeal to everyone.

Excellent heavy projectile dodging combined with a novel method to retaliation.

A music that contributes to the ambiance but is quickly forgotten once the game is turned off.

Despite the fact that it was frustrating at times, I kept returning to Archvale to see what more was in store for me in a fantasy bullet hell.

Final Score: 7.5

Archvale is now available on Steam, the Nintendo Switch, the Xbox One, and the Xbox Series S/X.

On Steam, the game was reviewed.

The publisher gave me with a copy of Archvale.

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The “archvale download” is a game that has been created by Archvile Studios. The game is set in the world of The Archvale, which was once a thriving metropolis but has now fallen into ruin. Players must explore and survive this new world as they unravel its secrets.

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