Solo Leveling: ARISE Interview - Netmarble Neo on bringing the webtoon phenom to gamers around the globe

We spoke with the developer tasked with using the Unity Engine to turn one the most popular current webtoons into a video game.

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You may not be familiar with Solo Leveling or the fact that it is soon set to expand into a fully-fledged RPG arriving in April. The reason is likely because Solo Leveling started out as a South Korean web novel before growing into a far more popular brand that has captivated and entertained audiences around the world. This spring, Solo Leveling will be making the jump into the world of video games, for an experience developed by Netmarble Neo and built using the Unity Engine.

For those unfamiliar with Solo Leveling, the web novel was created by author Chugong in 2016. After building a passionate audience, it was picked up and turned into a printed novel later in the year. Shortly afterwards, in 2018, a webtoon based on the brand was also created, which ran for a couple of seasons before upgrading (or levelling up, if you will) once again into an anime television series that made its debut in early January 2024. This rapid growth isn't stopping any time soon either, as a drama adaptation of Solo Leveling has also been ordered, as well as a spin-off webtoon, and of course, the upcoming Solo Leveling: ARISE video game from Netmarble Neo.


Solo Leveling is set in a world where human warriors with supernatural abilities, known as hunters, frequently battle deadly monsters all in the aim of saving mankind from devastation. The main story revolves around a famously weak hunter known as Sung Jinwoo, who after a near fatal encounter in a high-level dungeon, discovers a powerful programme that allows him to level up and become stronger than any other hunter before. As Sung Jinwoo increases in strength, he develops incredible and amazing powers and uses them to travel around the world, battling deadly adversaries, all in the effort of discovering the secrets behind his new power and the gates that allow monsters into the realm of men.

As for what makes Netmarble Neo the perfect fit to adapt the Solo Leveling story into a video game format, the developer told us this is down to its past experience working on action-RPGs and developing cartoon artwork. Specifically, Netmarble Neo said, "Our development team specialises in creating high-quality cartoon rendering artwork and we have a lot of experience in action RPGs. Thus, we are well suited to develop Solo Leveling: ARISE."

This general premise for Solo Leveling is also the core story that is found in Solo Leveling: ARISE. Throughout the game, you will play as Sung Jinwoo and grow in strength as you face increasingly demanding enemies, all to unlock new skills and weapons. This is on top of meeting other hunters from the webtoon, including Baek Yoonho, Cha Hae-In, and Lim Tae-Gyu, and combining your skills with them to clear the dungeons and gates that serve as doors for monsters to enter the realm of men. As is the case in the webtoon, as Sung Jinwoo defeats enemies, he can use his powerful Shadow Extraction ability to turn them into shadows that fight by his side, ultimately letting players become the Monarch of Shadows, which will be crucial for completing and surviving encounters against the many boss raids and challenge gates where the toughest of foes await.

With Netmarble Neo being the first to adapt Solo Leveling into a video game, the developer told us how it is approaching the challenge and how it is "developing with great attention to quality."

Netmarble Neo continued, "Our goal was to bring all of the objects and things from the original webtoon without the detriment of game balance. We created the battle skills based on the webtoon to provide skillful fun to players who know the webtoon IP well. Kasaka's Venom Fang has a 'paralyse' and 'haemorrhage' debuff skill which is the same as the original webtoon. Whenever players use recovery skills in the game with Jinwoo, the player shall be able to recover hp at 100% in the early stage."

Speaking about this faithful approach will be translated into core gameplay, Netmarble Neo also shared with us some of the design elements and ideologies that it has looked to adapt from the webtoon.

"Solo Leveling was focusing on similarity and redesign of the action from the original story webtoon. For example, there is a skill called 'Nando' and to provide similarity to this skill. We use 3D animation to fill the speed of the skill and level control on the skill effect to fulfil the player's feeling of cutting edge of the skill.

"Since we worked hard to redesign the game based on the original webtoon, we created Devil Sword, Greedy Marble, and more weapons with skills even Jinwoo used with the weapon in a short period of time in the webtoon. With Jinwoo's hammer, bow, shotgun, and multi weapons, players will be able to feel the different fancy stylish skills in the game. We could admit that we had a hard time making this game, however, it was a very fun time for us to build up this game."

Solo Leveling: Arise

Netmarble Neo spoke about using the Unity Engine, adding, "Although we had to quickly develop and tune a large amount of content, with the help of Unity, we were able to complete the development schedule without much trouble."

Solo Leveling is already an established brand in South Korea and many Asian regions, but with Solo Leveling: ARISE the aim is to cement the franchise as a global phenomenon too. On the topic of why fans unfamiliar with Solo Leveling should be excited for this game, Netmarble Neo told us, "Because the narrative structure as an action RPG has been faithfully constructed, you will not only be able to fully immerse yourself in the story and play the game even if you have not read the webtoon before, but you will also be able to experience the quality and combat experience of a national power-level action RPG."

While Solo Leveling: ARISE will be coming to PC, Android, and iOS devices soon, depending on the region you are located, pre-registration for the game is now available globally. Fans around the world will soon be flocking to the action-RPG, however, its debut into Early Access is just the beginning, as Netmarble Neo promises to "continuously update story content and new content. We plan to expand and reinforce content in various ways, including community and hunter content." This is on top of also setting the groundwork for a Steam version on PC, further opening up more avenues for players to dive in and to experience the gripping and action-packed world of Solo Leveling for the first time.

You can check out or pre-register your interest for Solo Leveling: ARISE either by visiting the game's website, the Google Play Store, the Apple App Store, or the Netmarble Launcher.

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