An Un-arrow-iginal Experience
I Am Archero is one of those games where it is almost more interesting to talk about the situation around it. A roguelike action RPG from Vietnamese studio Imba Games, I Am Archero will not win any prizes for revolutionary gameplay. But this doesn’t stop it from being a fun, if sometimes frustrating, roguelike.
Based on the title, you’d think from the title that it’s a sequel or spinoff of Habby’s Archero. That is not the case, and I Am Archero seems to be an unrelated game from an unrelated studio. Weirdly, the game’s title screen and Facebook page call it I Am Archer However, that doesn’t mean Imba Games didn’t rip-off of Archero. While I’ve never personally played Archero, I understand that the two games are similar to an almost ridiculous degree. If you want to know which game is better, I’m the wrong person to ask. Read on if you want to know how well I Am Archero, or whatever it’s called, stands on its own merits.
Players control their hero using a simulated joystick on the bottom of the screen. Whenever they’re not moving, the character fires automatically at whatever enemy is closest to being directly in front of them. Some characters also have active abilities triggered by double-tapping the screen. Weirdly, the default hero does not come with an active ability unlocked in the beginning. This means the player gets to use that mechanic in the tutorial, but not again for potentially many hours.
There are nine heroes in all, divided into three classes. However, the gameplay doesn’t change that much from class to class. Whether you are an archer, assassin, or warrior, the most important thing is to keep moving and not get overwhelmed. I Am Archero boasts a great variety of enemies, including fire-breathing dogs, goblin musketeers and giant rabbits armed with oversized carrots. Most of them have unique abilities and behaviors, so each new chapter feels distinct from the previous one.
Speaking of chapters, there are ten in all, covering most of the fantasy biomes. You know, forest desert, caves, et cetera. Noting too surprising, but as we’ve established originality isn’t, I Am Archero’s strong suit. Chapters vary from twenty to fifty stages. A successful run usually takes between twenty and thirty minutes. However, that’s if you can do it all in one attempt, which is unlikely. I Am Archero does not go easy on the difficulty, and death at any point means starting over at the beginning of a chapter. While that part of what makes a roguelike a roguelike, it means that I Am Archero can really eat away at your time.
There’s a heavy element of randomness when it comes to success or failure on a given attempt. In addition to their base stats, heroes have access to a range of unlockable abilities. This includes upgrades to damage and fire rate and more exotic perks like shields and area of effect attacks. However, the game chooses possible upgrades randomly every time you attempt a chapter. Not every buff or ability is equally useful to every character. I also found that flasher abilities like Magic Sword are much less helpful than more mundane bow upgrades. Damage-per-second is king in I Am Archero. Maximizing it is the difference between a cakewalk and a nightmarish slog. Doing so, means you are never entirely at the mercy of the random number god, who can make your life much more difficult when the mood strikes.
Abilities reset when you die or complete a chapter. Items and other upgrades are persistent, though, so you are not starting from scratch every time. This means that there is always a satisfying sense of forward progress. That said, the pace can get pretty slow a times as you retry chapters again and again. Your mileage may vary depending on how patient you’re willing to be.
I Am Archero loses points for unoriginality but does what it does very well. The game also looks great, having much more detailed models than its rival. However, the extreme difficulty and long chapters might be more than some are willing to put up with. Still, if you are looking for a challenging roguelike on mobile I Am Archero is definitely worth a try. While it may not be the most original game on Google Play, it’s definitely one of the better versions of what it is.
I Am Archero sounds like a cheap knockoff but proves itself to be a well-made and challenging mobile roguelike.