Solo Leveling Arise Preview: Being a Hunter Like Jinwoo Is a Grind

Ever since I finished reading the Solo Leveling manhwa, the first thought that struck my mind was, wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a game like this where you could fight monsters and level up? To be honest, I wanted a Solo Leveling game more than an anime adaptation, as the core nature of this webtoon is tailor-made for an RPG. I bet this is something most fans would agree on, and together, our dreams have come to fruition with Netmarble picking up the baton.

A brand new Solo Leveling: Arise game is coming soon, and I was lucky enough to get early access to a preview build. I’ve been playing the game for some time now, so let me share my first impressions of the first game based on the Solo Leveling world.

Spoilers Warning: This preview contains spoilers about the characters and world of Solo Leveling. We recommend reading the manhwa beforehand in order to avoid ruining your intended experience.

Solo Leveling: Arise is an upcoming action RPG made by Netmarble. It is up for pre-registration on Android, iOS, and PC, and is confirmed to be released in May 2024. An early access is now available in selected regions.


Our impressions are based on our playthrough up to chapter 6 and the various modes offered by the game. We couldn’t carry forward to the next chapters as the preview build of the game was limited up to the sixth chapter.

Witnessing the Rise of Jinwoo as a Player Hits Different

Solo Leveling: Arise Key art 1

The sight of seeing, “Congratulations! You have now become a player” at the start of the game was more than enough to make me smile and get me excited for what’s next. For those who aren’t aware, Solo Leveling: Arise follows the original manhwa (webtoon) and is a 100% faithful adaptation to the story of Sung Jinwoo.

Thus, you get to play as Sung Jinwoo in his leveling-up journey in the main Story mode, which is seen including manga panels with stellar voice acting as cut scenes to progress the story. Moreover, we also get a chance to unlock and play as many of the side characters like Lee Joohee, Song Chiyul, and Baek Yoonho, among others, thus, enriching the playability right from the start.

The developer has done justice to the source material by cleverly splitting the plotline into multiple chapters based on the Solo Leveling arc order. So, as a longtime fan, the adaptation didn’t even feel a bit tedious to me. It was a fresh breath of air as the entire manhwa was animated with fresh voice-overs. Moreover, it helped set a pace for story-telling and your leveling as a hunter.

Not to forget, all the character designs look amazing as they were carbon copies from the webcomic (which is something my Editor and I felt to be somewhat lacking in the anime). By nailing the main aspects of the source material, I was already impressed by the SL Arise shines with its gameplay too. However, it needs a bit of tuning.

Being a Leveling Up Hunter is Incredibly Fun But Tedious

Sung Jinwoo against Igris in Solo Leveling: Arise game

The core concept of Solo Leveling, for those new to the manhwa or anime, is simple. Sung Jinwoo, the protagonist, gets a second chance at life in a mysterious way and can now head into dungeons and defeat monsters to level up as a hunter. Now, Solo Leveling: Arise retains the same game loop with some interesting features that caught my fancy.

First and foremost, you should know that this is a hack-and-slash game. The combat is flashy and addictive with slick animations. It’s well-made and comparable to other hack-and-slash games.

The game also grants you the freedom to try out many different playstyles with a large number of weapons, which constantly pushes you to make a choice and keeps you engrossed. You also get to play as different side characters and explore their side of stories, which is a nice addition.

I didn’t expect to be able to play as Joohee when I powered up the game, but giving them abilities to complete gates on their own and support Jinwoo in his leveling up process felt like a nice addition. I know it may feel weird stepping into her shoes because of her PTSD from the double dungeon. But if we ignore it for the sake of progression in-game, it’s not bizarre to her in action.

The level design remains loyal to the manhwa and the retelling of the story couldn’t have been done better, at least in the initial stages of the game. The gameplay loops is pretty simple as all we have to do is clear dungeons by defeating the enemies and collecting rewards at the end, which is engaging for most of the time. But I hope the future stages mix things up so that the gameplay doesn’t get repetitive and dull too quickly.

The game’s difficulty and progression are stern and unforgiving (like a Souls game). If you haven’t leveled up enough to match the level required for each chapter, you might fail many times and throw your controller in frustration. So, get ready to do some intense grinding, be it on mobile or PC, like I did.

There are multiple modes to explore such as Hunter Archives, Instance Dungeons, Gates, etc that are amazing to play as the main storyline.

Hindering Factors That Dilute the Overall Experience

Sung Jinwoo against a magical beast in Solo Leveling: Arise game

While the game remains entertaining for most of the parts, without a doubt, it is being pulled down by some factors that I couldn’t overlook in my playthrough:

While the combat shines in offense, there is a clear lack of defensive options, which puts you in an extremely vulnerable state. You can always dash away from attacks. Apart from that, there is only one defensive maneuver, Extreme Evasion, which needs you to get the timing right every time. Therefore, the balance between offense and defense is lacking in its current state.

Moreover, I feel the gameplay is heavily level-gated and forces you to grind to level up by going through additional gates, side quests, and more to have the right weapons and skills to defeat boss levels, where you face Kang Taeshik, the Arachnid, and others. So, those who are looking forward to experiencing only ‘story mode’ will be deeply troubled by this in order to progress through Jinwoo’s story.

You can see a lot of enemies and boss designs getting recycled in a few chapters, which can be tiring and make the gameplay feel like a chore. Although setting up a time limit for every chapter is a nice way to increase the thrills of the experience, it is often too short and pushes the player to complete a level with pitch-perfect accuracy. The victory was sometimes within reach for me but I just couldn’t finish off the boss due to my lower level.

The bosses at the end of each chapter are unoptimized as they feature a massive health bar. They can’t be defeated smoothly (even if I met with the required stats at times) and the shorter time limit plagues the overall experience.

There are many features that govern the gameplay such as managing hunters, weapons, artifacts, and more, which feels overwhelming at times. The UI elements are laid out neatly for the PC port, but like every mobile game on the market, it can feel a little cluttered and overwhelming on iOS & Android.

Solo Leveling: Graphics and PC Performance

Sung Jinwoo in Solo Leveling: Arise game

Well, it’s time to take a look at the performance of Solo Leveling: Arise. The specs of the testbench (PC) on which I played the game are:

Test Setup: CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600
GPU: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 6GB Edition
RAM: 8×2 DDR4 RAM @ 3200MHz
SSD: Western Digital CL SN520 NVMe SSD 256GB
Monitor: 1440p

The PC port for this game is well-crafted and properly optimized as I didn’t notice any major issues during my playthrough. There were a few dips at overcrowded places or when several attacks were layered, but that’s all.

By locking the frame rate at 60 FPS, I constantly got the same for 99% of my playthrough. I only encountered a stutter when too many goblin enemies spawned at once. Hence, there is no doubt that this game will be polished at release for all the devices you can play on.

Final Verdict: Excited to Become a Shadow Monarch

Sung Jinwoo extracting Igris in Solo Leveling: Arise game

Despite its minor shortcomings and grinding nature, Solo Leveling: Arise is an impressive action RPG that grants you a chance to relive the enthralling journey of Sung Jinwoo. Sure, the negatives I mentioned above can even make Jinwoo tired if it happens with his player system. However, the key highlights of this game such as the exhilarating combat, exciting and fun modes, profuse character availability, and more make your whole journey worthwhile.

Anyway, these are just our first impressions of the game, which can easily change after the game’s final release, which is confirmed for later in May 2024. For now, you can try out the game in early access in Canada and Thailand, with the pre-registration live across all platforms, including iOS, Android, and PC.

Even with all the flaws we encountered, I strongly believe that the later part of the game is where the ultimate fun resides and will elevate the overall value of the game. That said, are you excited to play as Sung Jinwoo in Solo Leveling: Arise soon? Let us know in the comments below.

comment Comments 1
  • Koushik says:

    waku waku!!

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