Note: This version of Twisted Arrow was reviewed on the Oculus Rift. It is also available for HTC Vive.
Despite the age old idea that you should not judge a book by it’s cover, and by extension, a game by it’s cover art, I nevertheless find myself doing that anyway a lot of the time. I think that adage came to be before a large portion of marketing budget went in to designing eye catching covers. I only bring this up because everything about the Twisted Arrow store art caught my eye, from the yellow and green colour scheme, to the font, to the way the word arrow is being busted up by an arrow, it just screamed production value. I’ve felt this way before though and wound up less than enthused with the product, but I’m happy to say Twisted Arrow is so very close to being every bit as good as I expected it to be.
In the sales pitch on the Oculus Store page it says “Twisted Arrow is a full-tilt, no-holds-barred first-person shooter that gives players adrenaline-packed arcade style gameplay, built from ground-up for virtual reality.” That was enough to get me to download it with the highest possible hopes. Proper FPS games are rare in VR and instead we end up with a lot of wave shooters. Some of them are really good, like Raw Data or Robo Recall and others are less awesome, like Loo War. Some might wonder why I would consider Robo Recall a wave shooter rather than an FPS and there are at least two reasons. One, is the count in before each wave, It’s very much about moving to an area and having a bunch of enemies spawn that you have to take out. Two, the enemies come right at you when they spawn. They aren’t just doing their own thing until you make your presence known. There is no sneaking up on them and planning your attack. Once the wave starts it’s just survive until the end of the wave. And that’s fine. Robo Recall is one of the best games in VR right now, if not the best. And you may disagree with my categorization. I’m just explaining why I feel Twisted Arrow is different from what is on offer already.
Twisted Arrow begins with you being brought into a city by helicopter as the last hope to save the remaining civilian hostages in a town over run by a high tech paramilitary force. On your way into the city your squad comes under heavy fire and your chopper is shot out of the sky. You crash into a prison and you seem to be the only survivor. You’re ultra powerful compound bow, the Manitcore, has survived as well. Bad news for the bad guys. Luckily for you you emerge from the wreckage in the one part of the jail not over run by soldiers, which allows you the time to test your bow and figure out how to get around. Which brings me to my only nit-pick of the game. Teleportation.
Twisted Arrow uses teleportation to get around the environments. Unlike Robo Recall, which allows you to choose where to teleport, Twisted Arrow gives you several options about where to teleport, much more like the Robo Recall predecessor, Bullet Train. I have said and will continue to say that full locomotion should be an option for those of us who can handle it and I feel like Twisted Arrow would have been even better for including it. They don’t even have to ditch the teleportation mechanic. It could just be a power we have granted to us by the Manticore, but an optional one. Then if I find myself attacked from all sides I can teleport to a new area or higher ground, but if I want to sneak up on a baddie and put an arrow through his skull I can do that too. Teleportation is really my only complaint with this fantastic game.
There are various enemy types in Twisted Arrow including soldiers of varying power levels from brown coloured foot soldiers to the hulking, red, armoured, cannon carriers with others in between. There are also sentry drones, both armed and unarmed. The unarmed ones will set of an alarm that calls in the big guns, whereas the armed ones will just shoot you themselves. Bullets travel pretty slow in this game so you can dodge them pretty easily but the times when you can’t you can pull a trigger on your bow hand to produce a shield. The shield can break through so don’t rely on it too much. There are searchlights to take out which, like the unarmed drones, will sound the alarm if they spot you calling in a chopper to drop off some of the more robust soldiers. These searchlights though will blow up spectacularly taking out any enemies around them so it’s really enjoyable to take them out. Besides enemies there are explosive barrels, crates, wooden skids, street/floodlights and more that can all be destroyed if you want a little target practice or, like me, just love shooting the bow at things.
In Twisted Arrow you have access to multiple arrow types. You never have to collect arrows, but all of them save for your basic arrow will deplete an energy meter when fired. The meter will slowly refill on it’s own or else you can shoot a pick up dropped by enemies to fill it faster allowing you access once again to your more powerful arrows. The arrows that you can choose from are an ice arrow which freezes the enemy solid allowing you to pick him off without having to worry about dodging his attacks. Next is an arrow that fires land mines that go off when enemies get too close. This one is a lot of fun because they often go launching into the stratosphere which is incredibly satisfying. There is also a multi-arrow that locks on to enemies when you fire in their general direction and a bomb arrow that does a lot of damage to a fairly significant area, good for when you are being overrun or when you have a larger enemy to take down. Each of these arrows uses more energy than the one before it and all arrows share an energy meter so you have to be careful when using the more expensive ones as they may limit you to your basic arrow right when you really need something stronger.
There are three different difficulty levels to choose from. I’ve cleared the game on easy and have started on medium. At first I didn’t think the jump was all that significant, but once you reach the second level the difficulty bump is noticeable. I’m not sure if there are more enemies, if they just react to your presence easier, if their bullets fly faster or any combination of the above, but I didn’t even break a sweat on easy on the second stage, but I nearly died on medium. For one thing, the enemies have new weapons. So far the only new weapons I’ve encountered are grenades, but there could be more in later levels. I shudder to think what some of the levels that were more difficult on easy will be like on medium or hard. But then, I like to play my games on the easiest setting so as not to put holes in my walls and break expensive controllers.
As far as graphics go, Twisted Arrow is middle of the road. There are games that look a lot worse and games that look a lot better. But it has a style to it that makes it really feel like a game you could play in an arcade if such things still existed. Being the nostalgia nerd that I am, I love the graphics but I readily admit that not everyone will feel the same way. Having said that, I also don’t think that the graphics are of a quality that people will be turned off by them. They’re not love ’em or hate ’em, they’re probably more like love ’em or meh.
My hope for Twisted Arrow is that it becomes a franchise. While my only gripe is the lack of a full locomotion option, there are some things that I would like to see in a sequel. For starters, while I like that I don’t have to conserve ammo and don’t want to see that changed, I would like to level up and acquire new arrows throughout the game. In this one you have all the arrows at full power from the very beginning. The game is short enough that there isn’t a lot of time for leveling up and you certainly aren’t bored by the end, but being able to improve my character is something that I always love being able to do. It adds to the sense of accomplishment. I also would like to see some multiplayer, both co-op and deathmatch. Given the current landscape for VR multiplayer I can see why they wouldn’t put the time in to have multiplayer in this version, but maybe as DLC down the road or in a future sequel it would be nice to see, especially if they make it cross platform so there is a larger install base increasing the chance to find games. I can also think of a handful of other arrows I’d like to see such as acid arrows which could be used to burn through barriers (and people if need be), time arrows that slow down or stop time in an affected area, guided arrows where you steer them once they are fired, sniper arrows that have scopes on them and fly in a perfectly straight line regardless of the distance.
In case it isn’t apparent by now, I think you should buy this game. Unless you hate bow and arrow games, in which case Twisted Arrow probably isn’t for you. I can honestly say that I’ve seen greater spectacle games than this, and I’ve played other good games, but I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in a game since Robo Recall was released. Which isn’t to say that Twisted Arrow is as good or better than Robo Recall, they are very different games. But Twisted Arrow is a lot of fun, has good replay value and makes you feel like a bad ass. Games this good should be supported.
Have you played Twisted Arrow? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Do you have other ideas about how the game could be improved through DLC or in a sequel? Anything else you would like to say about the game or my views on it? Head on over to The Roost to talk about it.
If you want to hear some other viewpoints on the game check out our most recent episode of The Hoard!
Daryle Henry | Dads And Dragons
Oculus ID: theregoes2
- Comfort Level 90%
- Graphics 70%
- Sound 75%
- Fun Factor 90%
- Presence 75%
- Overall 90%