With plenty of archery titles now available, it’s harder than ever to choose between the offerings. Twisted Arrow is the latest addition to the archery lineup on both platforms, but manages to stand out from the crowd with some interesting depth to its gameplay.
Being thrown into the role of a cybernetically enhanced soldier, Twisted Arrow tasks players with taking down a hostile paramilitary group currently occupying a futuristic city. Armed with an advanced bow equipped with a range of abilities, the game mostly centers its combat around maintaining accuracy and balancing your skills on the fly.
Unlike a number of archery games currently available on VR platforms, Twisted Arrow provides the opportunity to move between pre-defined points to progress through the world. With this approach, the game strays away from the common on-rails ‘wave-based’ formula, instead opting for teleportation between clearly marked beacons on the map. While not the level of freedom I’d have personally liked to see, this provides a nice level of flexibility while keeping players on a set track.
A huge effort to refine Twisted Arrow’s bow and arrow mechanics is also apparent, making for easy and intuitive interactions with the bow. The process of loading, preparing and aiming the bow feels natural at all times, followed up by satisfying feedback upon releasing the string. With sharp audible response after a successful hit on an enemy, landing a shot never fails to feel rewarding.
Between the five different types of arrows available from the outset, there’s a fair share of variety to be seen in Twisted Arrow’s combat scenarios. Switching up your arrows and combat style to adapt to a situation is key, with some portions of the game encouraging the use of certain abilities. Quickly toggled via a radial menu on the touchpad, switching arrow types is responsive enough to not negatively impact the flow of combat.
The bow comes with a range of additional abilities outside of its use as a weapon, making for a versatile piece of kit to use on the field. By pressing down the trigger on your left hand a handheld shield can be deployed, which deflects incoming projectiles for a short span of time. Being attached to the bow, this prevents the shield from being used alongside its offensive qualities, with a heavy requirement for timing and situational awareness. The bow can also be used as a simple hacking tool for in-game consoles, activated by simply placing the bow onto of a clearly marked surface.
Paired with the wide range of abilities and tools in combat, ‘energy’ restrictions place a limitation on the player’s efficacy in battle. With numerical values associated with various types of arrows, players must consider their arrow usage in accordance with available energy. While basic arrows consume no energy, those with more effective abilities come alongside heavier tolls.
However, without a compelling narrative or much of a reason to invest in its world, Twisted Arrow eventually leans too heavily on its unique combat systems. Although these are certainly interesting mechanics that stand on their own, they soon come to feel rather stale over time. By the time only a couple levels have passed, the same bow-drawing motion can begin to feel rather repetitive. Without any additional modes to spice up the package, the repetitive nature of Twisted Arrow can soon become apparent.
Twisted Arrow introduces interesting ideas to VR archery, managing to move away from some of the downfalls which have plagued the genre to date. With these enhancements, the game differentiates from a number of competitors and stands out as an immersive virtual reality experience. Although the game may be compelling to fans of archery titles, it fails to deliver the depth and variety I’d like to have seen in such a world.