Solo Leveling Arise Review: Near perfect gacha love letter to original manhwa

Josh Taylor
Solo Leveling Arise characters.

Solo Leveling: Arise is the first-ever game adaption from the worldwide hit manhwa and now popular anime series, but does the highly-anticipated action gacha release live up to the hype?

Solo Leveling already boasts over 14 billion readers for its original manhwa, and its anime adaption has been a worldwide hit since it released to critical acclaim in March 2024. However, its first-ever game Solo Leveling: Arise is set to catapult the beloved Korean series to new heights.

Netmarble announced they were developing Solo Leveling: Arise in January 2022. Since then, its newfound success and promising teasers helped it achieve over 15 million pre-registrations, before the gacha game finally launched on May 8.

The action RPG, available on PC and mobile, follows the iconic story of the world’s worst-ranked hunter, Sung Jinwhoo, in his quest to level up and become the best. To clear the high-rank Gates (dungeons) and defeat the deadly bosses, you must assemble a strong hunting team by unlocking characters, weapons, and items.

It’s clear that a lot of care has been taken to recapture the breathtaking visuals of the manhwa and anime, but does Solo Leveling: Arise carry this through to the gameplay or is it just a quick gacha money grab?

Key details

  • Price: Free
  • Developer: Netmarble
  • Release Date: May 8, 2024
  • Platforms: PC, mobile

Solo Leveling brought to life like never before

Sung Jinwoo scene in Solo Leveling: Arise.
Sung Jinwoo’s dialogue is voiced by the same actor from the anime.

Straight away you will be immersed in the story of hunter Sung Jinwoo. Each chapter is beautifully depicted through quests that use animated manhwa panels, highly detailed cutscenes, faithful gameplay, and even the same voice actors from the anime.

Netmarble has created a true love letter to the source material in every aspect. Arise has brought practically every iconic character, enemy, feature, weapon, and item from the manhwa into reality and even introduced brand-new characters and quests to let you delve deeper than ever. The visuals beautifully tie this all together, which despite really shining on PC, still holds its own on mobile.

Arise’s gameplay feels fluid, yet challenging

Solo Leveling: Arise combat gameplay.
Switching between each hunter in your team at the right times is vital.

Assembling a powerful team of up to four hunters and Jinwoo’s Army of Shadows is the key to defeating bosses and clearing Gates.

The first hour is pretty overwhelming with the amount of features you’re introduced to, whether it’s how best to level up and use each hunter, or just navigating all the menus. However, you’ll soon pick these up and become addicted to clearing Gates in your journey to becoming the best hunter in the world.

This is largely down to the phenomenal job Netmarble has achieved with its fluid gameplay, even if some of the loading screens can be rather lengthy. While using Sung Jinwoo, or any other hunters collected, the movement and combat mechanics feel effortless. This makes the game a joy to play, especially when trying to master new abilities.

The main focus of the game revolves around clearing Gates and defeating the iconic bosses within them, while snagging yourself some neat rewards in the process. But, their always-increasing difficulty constantly keeps you on your toes. Aside from this, there are seven alternate game modes, mini-games, events and much more to get stuck into.

Unforgiving gacha system & powerful characters

Solo Leveling: Arise Hunter draws.
You can use Draw Tickets to try and pull all your favorite hunters from Solo Leveling.

Everything you have come to know and love in Genshin Impact and other gacha games can be found in Arise. Each of the 21 hunter characters has been created with highly detailed models, smooth animations, and a diverse range of abilities.

Even though the pull rates for drawing hunters are fairly low, which may put some off, casual players will barely notice a difference, and if you already adore Solo Leveling then you will have no problem grinding Draw Tickets to get your hands on the likes of Taesik Kang and Jinwoo’s best friend Yoo Jinho.

Customization features for your hunters are as never-ending as expected. You can obtain hundreds of items in the form of Artifacts, Runes, outfits, weapons, items, and plenty more along the way, which you can also buy and sell using the various in-game currencies.

Solo No Leveling

Hell's Gatekeeper Cerberus boss in Solo Leveling: Arise.
Hell’s Gatekeeper Cerberus is an S-Tier Gate boss you will need to defeat as part of the main questline.

Despite all its strengths, Solo Leveling: Arise has been let down by typical progression system tropes found in many gacha games. After the honeymoon phase wears off and you reach higher levels, free-to-play progression becomes a slog and it’s harder for you to be well-equipped enough to clear Gates and defeat bosses.

For a series that centers around leveling solo, you will easily find yourself being tempted by the bombardment of pay-to-win upgrades to help you progress. If not, then you will eventually be stuck endlessly grinding to be able to force your way through near-impossible Gates.

The Verdict: 4/5

Solo Leveling: Arise is a near-perfect homage to the original manhwa. Its sublime storytelling is its standout feature, which combined with its rich visuals, fluid gameplay, and addicting Genshin-esque features, make it a must-play for any Solo Leveling or gacha fan.

Only time will tell if the late-game progression system issues will eventually harm its longevity and drive its promising playerbase away.

Reviewed on PC and mobile.

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