The battle between light and darkness rages on. In Archer of God, the new release from Korean publisher 111%, you must choose a side to fight in the Holy War. Will you be a sentinel of heaven or a plunderer from hell?
The gameplay of Archer of God consists entirely of 1-on-1 matches. You and your opponent each take up a side of the screen and launch arrows at each other. It’s like volleyball or tennis, but the objective is to hit the other person. The trailer gave me the impression that Archer of God would play like a head-to-head Angry Birds. However, that isn’t quite the case.
You see, you don’t actually aim the arrows you fire. With your left thumb, you can move your character left and right across their platform. Your character fires at your opponent automatically when standing still. The player can only attack while standing still, but that leaves you open to take damage. The key is to strategize and decide how aggressive or defensive you want to be.
Archer of God is a lot more like poker than Angry Birds. You have to read your opponent while at the same time remaining unpredictable. That mental tightrope is demanding to walk, and it might turn away some gamers who are just trying to kick back and relax. It even took me a little while to recognize it and appreciate this game for what it was.
But at the same time, it can be a lot of fun. The majority of gameplay consists of online matches, which pit you against either of the opposing forces of heaven or hell. At the beginning of the game, you choose whether you want to be an angel or a devil, and whatever side you don’t choose is the one you’ll have to fight. Choosing an angel or devil doesn’t impact gameplay, and both characters have the same special powers.
These powers are special attacks that give you various advantages in combat. There’s a fireball arrow that causes extra damage, a double arrow that can corner your opponent, a stone that can limit their movement, one that summons a turret that gives you extra firepower, and a jumping move that aims downward while throwing off your opponent’s aim. You can activate your abilities by clicking on the icon in the bottom right of the screen. Each attack takes time to recharge, so you can’t just spam your favorite power the whole match. Knowing when to pull the trigger on these moves is usually the deciding factor in most matches.
Battling with CPU’s in a “pursuer” mode allows you to earn resources to purchase new special powers. This includes items like a key that freezes your opponents in place or a horizontal arrow that can only be dodged with the jumping move. Players can also purchase these upgrades and various other buffs with microtransactions. While that’s rarely a good thing, they didn’t ruin my online experience. The mechanics are balanced so that players who drop a ton of cash have an advantage, but not an insurmountable one.
Keeping the Faith
In terms of presentation and aesthetics, Archer of God seems more impressive from afar than up-close. The heaven vs. hell dynamic adds a lot of excitement and life into this game. And it makes for really cool character designs and loading screen artwork. However, the developers chose to present it in that blocky, Neo-8-bit art style that you see in many dime-a-dozen, mass-produced mobile games.
I’m not faulting 111% for using a generic design scheme to make this game. It probably saved them a lot of money and time. However, the intensity of their visual ambition clashes weirdly with primary colors and goofy fonts. Whatever uniqueness they did achieve was watered down. As far as the music and sound go, it was insipid and unmemorable, but not awful or annoying.
If you put cosmetics aside, it’s hard to argue that Archer of God isn’t a well-made game. With strong and unique gameplay and a balanced online experience, it is an enjoyable diversion.
Is it Hardcore?
All good games go to heaven, and I think the solid, unique online combat would be enough to convince St. Peter to let Archer of God through the pearly gates.