Reviews September 23, 2017

Arrow Heads

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Reviewed By: Andre Thomas
System: PC
Genre: Action
Rated: N/A
Players: 1-4 (2-4 Online)
Cost: $14.99
Release Date: 09/21/2017
Publisher: OddBird
Developer: OddBird                

We are in a generation of gaming that is being dominated by indie developers. Not so much in terms of revenue – the GTA’s and CoD’s are clearly running the show there – but in terms of creativity and overall fun. Independent developers are responsible for some of the best games to be released in recent years. So, when got review codes for Arrow Heads I was more than willing to jump into the fray.

Arrow Heads is a 2 to 4 player arena-type party shooter that puts bow and arrows into the hands birds. Similar to games like Towerfall were a single shot can kill, the game puts players in small arenas with deadly traps that alter the playing field. Powerups that grant everything from rocket arrows to tesla coils that emits electric arcs between each other, fall from the sky in random intervals. Players will dash about in hopes of dodging arrows, only pausing to briefly aim and shoot. It’s simple set up that started out rather entertaining.

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The goal obviously is to be the last bird standing. This creates tension as matches go from a 4 player arrow fest to a nerve-wracking one on one bout; once you get down to the final two, both players will often put on their best Oliver Queen impressions. This was great for a while. As other UFG writers joined me online, we had a blast sending arrows across Arrow Heads’ small maps. This was great for a while. Unfortunately, as we came across the same maps and used the same few powerups dozens of times, the fun started to wane. I don’t want to give the impression that I just outright stopped having fun or didn’t like Arrow Heads, because that’s far from true. But the more I played it, the more I felt like it was missing something.

Maybe it was who I was playing with; because we were given access before Arrow Heads was released, we only played amongst ourselves. Maybe it was because there weren’t that many maps or items to really change up the gameplay. Or maybe the base gameplay wasn’t as addictive as I thought it was early on. It was seemingly fine on paper. A multiplayer game is perfect for online/offline shenanigans with friends. That said, Arrow Heads didn’t hold my attention as long as say a SpeedRunners or Gang Beasts (I still don’t know exactly why that game is fun, outside of its wacky sentiments) did.

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There is an offline Arcade mode. Due to the lack of an online presence, I spent a decent amount of time with my wife playing the Arcade mode. Here, players are forced to fight waves of cuddly, yet deadly teddy bears. It was good for a laugh or two. No matter how many waves of enemies came my way though, I couldn’t stop thinking about how boring things were becoming. As it stands, the Arcade mode lacked the chaos that ensued when playing against other players. Like any other game of this ilk, it’s more engaging to battle friends than NPCs. And while I’m sure having the option of allowing people to join online would have helped keep things exciting, it wouldn’t have trumped the main mode of play.

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Arrow Heads is easy to pick up and play, is tailor made for parties/group gatherings. It even sports nice, cartoony graphics. Most people will enjoy it, especially in those first few hours. Beyond that, I don’t know. For the life of me, I can’t seem to pinpoint where the disconnect comes from. I mean, I can guess – with the limited maps and items, vacant lobbies and an offline only Arcade mode. The main thing I discovered was that I didn’t want to play much longer than what our review warranted. I can’t say that it is a bad game though. OddBird created something interesting. We need more games that focuses on players just hanging out with one another. Nothing super competitive. A game where just about anyone can get in and have a good time. Arrow Heads wasn’t that game for me. But that shouldn’t deter you from at least giving it a try!

Gameplay: 7
Arrow Heads was really fun at first. However, after spending hours shooting arrows at each other, we opted to play something else.

Graphics: 7
The cartoony visuals are nice.

Sound: 7
I mostly enjoyed the music.

Replay Value: 6
The game, unfortunately, didn’t hold my attention.
 
Final Score:

6.8

Editor’s Note:
We waited to post our review so we could try the online portion after the game launched. However, due to the low number of people currently playing at any given time, we didn’t see a significant difference to what we experienced prior.