banner-siteskin-left-to_aniuta_pre_launch_campaign
banner-siteskin-right-to_aniuta_pre_launch_campaign

Arrow Heads - PC/Steam Review

Image-1-Arrow-Heads-capture-500x299 Arrow Heads - PC/Steam Review

The expertise it takes to shoot accurately with a bow combined with the chaotic nature of this game makes it a fun multiplayer experience!

Game Info:

  • System: PS3, Xbox One, PC/Steam
  • Publisher: OddBird
  • Developer: OddBird
  • Release Date: 9/21/2017
  • Price:$15
  • Rating: TBD
  • Genre: Action
  • Players: Single Player or Online/Offline Multiplayer (1-4)
  • Official Website: http://oddbirdstudio.ca/

Who it Caters to

Arrow Heads is an example of an easy game to pick up but hard to master. While the mechanics of this arena game seem simple at first, the unique aiming mechanics require skillful precision, an apt approach for the bow and arrow. Those familiar with TowerFall Ascension might find themselves a new game to practice their archery. Players who are looking for a quick, arena-based multiplayer experience or those looking to brighten up parties will also love the chaotic nature and quick pacing of this indie title.

What to Expect

Image-1-Arrow-Heads-capture-500x299 Arrow Heads - PC/Steam Review
There are two modes with varying levels of replayability. This game, as advertised, is certainly catered to players looking for a multiplayer experience. As it is right now, there is the free-for-all Arena Mode, a mode in which you fight against 4 opponents locally or online, and there is an Arcade Mode, a mode where you must defeat waves of enemies and utilize teamwork to survive up to 25 rounds. Single player is not a major focus of this game, so definitely take that into consideration. Luckily, online mode will supply an easy gateway and solution for those needing extra players.


Controls

While the game recommends you use a controller when playing on the Steam version, we found that the keyboard and mouse work perfectly fine due to the simplicity of the game’s inputs. For some, the keyboard and mouse might actually be preferred. If the initial control layout does not fit your fancy, there is also the ability to customize your PS4, Xbox One (the 360 controllers also work on Steam), or Keyboard inputs. The standard layout is as follows:

  • Dash: PS4 (Square/L1/L2/Circle), Xbox One (X/LB/LT/B), Keyboard (Shift)
  • Reflect: (press any of the above “Dash Buttons” while standing still)
  • Aim: Move the right analog stick or mouse
  • Shoot: Release the right analog stick after aiming or release the left click on your mouse

Interact/Powerup usage in Arcade Mode: PS4 (Triangle), Xbox One (Y), Keyboard (E).
You’ll notice that when playing on a controller, actions are mapped to multiple buttons. This redundancy, however, doesn’t hinder the gameplay. In fact, you might find that certain situations make certain buttons more optimal than others. As an example, aiming is done with using the right analog stick (or mouse). By moving the right analog stick, you both aim in a direction, but also pull back the string of your bow, releasing this the analog stick (or letting go of left click) will enable you to fire an arrow.

The nature of shooting makes it difficult to do jump shots, so while you might prefer jumping with the X input on a PS4 controller, you might find it better to jump with R2 when aiming.

Arrow Heads - Announcement Trailer

Gameplay

Image-1-Arrow-Heads-capture-500x299 Arrow Heads - PC/Steam Review
Before we get into the game modes, there are some unique design choices that deserve some study. While the game can be chaotic, the aiming mechanic is balanced to not allow for the game to be too unruly. First, aiming has several phases. When aiming with a bow, the shot begins very high vertically, but the distance doesn’t travel far horizontally. The longer you choose to aim, the farther the shot goes, but the height lessens as a result. This means that if you prefer to arc your shots, you will want to shoot sooner during your aiming phases. However, if you want an arrow to hit straight at your opponent, you will want to hold your aim for quite awhile--too long, however, will tire your character our, forcing the shot to stray from its intended path.

Interestingly enough, shots done immediately from your bow will miss opponents very close to you. While this is strange at first, this gameplay decision helps the game not devolve into a close quarters slugfest. The second notable design choice to is that for players who do favor close combat, dashing in this game allows both movement and a temporary stun on enemies. If you dash through your enemy, you will leave then temporarily vulnerable to your attacks, making the game influenced by a different spectrum of ranged attacks. Lastly, the reflect mechanic, an action done by letting go of the left analog stick and hitting the “Dash Button” is able to reflect projectiles back at the opponent and defeating them if contact is made. Reflecting is lax enough where players won’t have to be too focused on timing, but missing a reflect does leave the player temporarily vulnerable, allowing opponents to bait reflects and punish appropriately.

Arrow Heads - Game Modes - Highlight

Arena Mode

Arena Mode features 7 stages ranging from a beach/shipwreck stage to a lava stage with moving minecarts. In this mode, 2 - 4 players will fight each other in a contest of who can get 10 kills first. Each stage varies in environmental hazards, forcing players to be aware of their surroundings as well as their opponents. Certain maps strongly favor positional advantage.

One example is the snow map. The left side, in particular, is on higher terrain. An avalanche falls in the middle, separating the left and right side as a dangerous obstacle. Since the left has the advantage of higher ground, players on the right side will struggle to lob their shots and hit them due to the distance and height. However, if everyone rushes the left side, its advantage becomes difficult to maintain, making it an area players want to contest for themselves.

When only 1 player remains (or all players die), the round ends and respective kills are shown in the results. If no player has reached 10 kills yet, a round begins anew until one player (or multiple) have achieved 10 kills--if multiple players reach the goal simultaneously, the game awards the respective players with 1st place. Items will appear randomly throughout the stage, ranging from missiles, spread shots, armor, and more, influencing your decisions as you push your way towards victory. Players who find themselves at least 3 points behind from the leading player will be given armor at the start of the round. Armor can survive to normal arrows, but will not save the player if hit by a missile or environmental hazard.

The next notable (and hilarious feature) in Arena Mode is if 3 - 4 players exists, any player who dies will be able to control their own corpse. Pressing either the jump or dash button allows players to move their dead bodies much like a ragdoll. Hitting opposing players with your body cause them to be stunned, allowing other players to capitalize on your assistance. The ragdoll physics make for a fun time even when you’ve lost the round.

In the current version of the game that we experienced, an online mode was available for Arena Mode (and will be available for Arcade Mode as well later). Online play was mostly good, although there were occasional strange issues of spawning on top of players due to lag. Getting into a match is pretty seamless too. Go into the Arcade Mode’s archery range, Arrow Heads version of a lobby, and open your menu. Go to the online mode within this menu and search for players or invite a friend.

Players who are waiting for matches will get put into your lobby or you will appear in theirs. As long as players are online, getting into a match and playing is quick and fruitful. For the most part, local play and online play provide for an exciting experience for those looking for competition, but those looking for a more team-based experience should check the second game mode.

Arcade Mode

Image-1-Arrow-Heads-capture-500x299 Arrow Heads - PC/Steam Review
Arcade Mode, as mentioned before, is a mode where you must defeat waves of enemies and utilize teamwork to survive up to 25 rounds. The mode scales in difficulty depending on a number of players involved, 1 having the least and 4 having the most. Each wave of enemies are separated by rounds where players must defeat every enemy before 60 seconds have elapsed, a challenge that becomes increasingly more difficult as you get closer to the end. Players each have 3 lives each, a life being expended if a player takes a single hit from an enemy. The way power-ups/items are handled in this mode is different from Arena Mode. Whenever an enemy is killed, they leave a varying amount of yellow orbs.Collecting these orbs will fill up a collective team gauge, and when this gauge maxes out, any player can activate a shared power-up.

Powerups are selected by roulette and include some you’ve seen from Arena Mode and two new features: life up and 500 bird seeds (the game’s currency used to buy aesthetic changes to your character, bow, or arrows). If the power-up selected is weapon-based, the yellow gauge rapidly decreases. During this limited duration, all players can use weapons infinitely to help stave the oncoming enemies. Knowing when to use the gauge effectively will usually determine if the team fails round or finds a victorious path to the next.

Image-1-Arrow-Heads-capture-500x299 Arrow Heads - PC/Steam Review
At the current moment, there are a total of 5 enemy types which will require various strategies to defeat. Their descriptions are as follows:

  • Miniature bear: this bear cannot take away a life from any player, but its tackle can stun
  • Axe-wielding bear: this bear will take time to throw an axe at opponents, but the bear takes a decent amount of time before it throws its weapon
  • Gun-wielding bear: this sneaky enemy can be fairly accurate with its single-shot gun, but is does not track players who move non-linearly that easily
  • Shield-wielding bear: this enemy will block shots direct at its front with its shield, is vulnerable from above, the back, or after it dives at players
  • Bomb-shooting bear: this armored bear requires multiple arrows to bring down and it attacks by launching miniature bears at opponents or by shooting bombs with a large blast radius

While enemies can be handled fairly easily early on, as players trudge closer to the 25th round, avoiding shots will be a monumental task. Coordinating attacks where enemies enter will help defend against the tide, but a moment’s hesitation will narrow your path towards victory. Gamers seeking a co-op experience will appreciate the fun and strategy this mode can elicit from its simple yet entertaining gameplay.


Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

Image-1-Arrow-Heads-capture-500x299 Arrow Heads - PC/Steam Review
This game is definitely best enjoyed with a bunch of friends either locally or online, and despite its limited amount of game modes, the game works well as something you can play quickly and enjoy locally or online. At the current moment, neither Arcade nor Arena Mode feature AI/bots to compete against or support you, but with a price of $15 dollars, Arrow Heads makes a very reasonable and enjoyable game for players seeking a co-op or competitive game.

Honey's Pros:

  • Easy to learn without limiting player skill allows for various players to enjoy the game
  • Unique aiming mechanics make for an interesting take on an arena game with shooting mechanics

Honey's Cons:

  • At the moment, no AI/bots make it difficult to play by yourself
  • Some maps in Arena Mode favor a certain side or location, so starting locations per round can be difficult to overcome, especially if you start near an explosive barrel

Honey's Final Verdict:

While this game can be frustrating at first, since players might be unfamiliar with the attack arcs and ranges of the bow, there is a satisfying learning curve to the game. It’s interesting how something as simple as aiming can level the playing field and allow players to experience something unique to archery. At the moment, there are only 2 gameplay modes, but I think both Arcade and Arena Mode give a fun enough experience to warrant this game’s price.

If you enjoyed the article or want to chime in with your views on good multiplayer games similar to Arrow Heads, let us know in the comments! We’re always interested in hearing viewer opinions.

Image-1-Arrow-Heads-capture-500x299 Arrow Heads - PC/Steam Review

Writer

Author: Sean "Coopa" Hoang

A motivated writer hoping to share his passion for video games, literature, and visual media. I'm the main streamer of FinestKO, a variety game stream with roots in the fighting game community. Whenever there's time, you can usually find me broadcasting or writing for the next article.

Previous Articles

Top 5 Anime by Sean "Coopa" Hoang