‘Twisted Arrow’ Puts a Superpowered Bow at the Center of Phaser Lock’s Next VR Title

Cross-platform cooperative and competitive multiplayer coming post-launch


Whereas traditional FPS titles have settled on the gun as a primary weapon, it seems the bow & arrow is increasingly becoming a favorite of the VR FPS. Twisted Arrow, the next title from Phaser Lock (the studio behind the well received Final Approach) lets the player wield a superpowered bow for high-action gameplay.

Compared to Final Approach (2016), an arcade puzzle game about guiding planes safely onto runways, Twisted Arrow is a huge step in the action direction for studio Phaser Lock. At the center of Twisted Arrow is a high-tech bow that makes the player a deadly opponent for the hordes of enemies they will face.

Twisted_Arrow_Mutant_01Hordes indeed, but Phaser Lock CEO Michael Daubert says the game is absolutely not a ‘VR wave-shooter’, a genre which is on its way to becoming overrun with bland experiences. Instead, players will work their way through six hand-crafted levels, four of which will culminate in boss fights, for some four to six hours of gameplay. Enemies will vary from para-military combatants to robots, zombies, drones, and more.

Daubert told me that many of the game’s design decisions were about keeping things fast paced. The high-tech bow that the player will wield is at the core of that pace. Instead of slowly unlocking new abilities over time, the player gets access to everything up front. That includes multiple special arrows (like freeze and explosive), and the ability to temporarily transform your bow into a force shield.

Twisted_Arrow_ShieldPlayers will navigate around each mission through a node-based teleportation system. Daubert says that when they tested the game with an open-ended teleport system, players spent too much time trying to position themselves for cover using artificial locomotion. Changing to a node-based system encourages the player to physically move about their playspace to dodge and use the virtual cover that’s available at the nodes. Asking players to actually dodge bullets and duck behind cover increased the physicality of the game too, something that the studio wanted to be part of the experience (without it being too physical that players get tired quickly).

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Daubert says the studio has carefully tuned the bow mechanics to maintain a sense of high-speed combat. Instead of drawing the arrow from a quiver on your back (as some VR bow & arrow games do), simply grabbing the bow string will nock an arrow and leave you ready to fire. They’ve also designed the bow and its drawing mechanics to favor a somewhat tilted orientation, so that players avoid hitting their VR headset with their controllers when pulling the string back (as with a real bow you would pull your hand right up to your check to aim down the arrow).

At one point during development, the studio had an Olympic archer visiting to give the game a try just for fun; Daubert says he was far and away the highest scoring player to try the game so far, with something like 98% accuracy.

Twisted Arrow will launch on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, with a tentative release date set for mid-March. Following the launch, the game will get updated to support competitive and cooperative multiplayer that’s cross-platform, along with leaderboards. The game will launch priced at $25 with a 25% launch discount.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Raphael

    Looks like this one is for teleport fans. I’m adopting a new policy. Instead of bitching about a game being teleport only. Just accept that not all games will offer choices.

  • burzum

    It doesn’t impress me. Looks like it was made for mobile graphics wise. Go for QuiVR if you want some awesome archery fun. http://store.steampowered.com/app/489380/ The developer is very responsive and does almost every day updates when he is present.

    • Raphael


    • J.C.

      QuiVR is yet another wave shooter. Don’t care. I’d rather have actual levels to explore than another “look I got a weapon to work in VR, guess that’s all I needed to do!” grab.
      I agree that this game doesn’t look crazy gorgeous, but it looks better than Vanishing Realms, and that’s a fantastic game. Maybe it’s due to the dev actually making full environments instead of a single location that you shoot from. Maybe it’s budget constraints. Maybe it’s because a ton of people are trying to skate by on underpowered systems for VR, and loudly blame devs for poor optimization on their forums. Maybe it’s all of the above.

      We all know graphics in VR aren’t as important as how the game PLAYS. I’m willing to give this one a chance simply due to it trying to be a reasonable length title, not just a score chaser.

      As for the node teleportation, I’m ok with that. I’ve tried quite a bit, and cannot ignore what my inner ear is telling me…hoverboarding makes me nauseous after a short while.

    • Gaspar Ferreiro

      A lot of the ideas about this game are taken right out of our vive FREE demo for MSI Vr jam, and the work we are currently doing for our official release. Split arrows, and special power arrows, etc.

      We also went from teleportation to freedom of movement mechanics (since the public demands it). I dunno… everyone is free to make an arrow game, copy from others etc.. but at least try to innovate, improve on graphcis or do something special.. not just copy other dev ideas.

      link for reference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nIsd8JEww8

      • inesteri644

        Rumors of this game since last July (https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4txqm3/just_met_the_makers_of_final_approach_they_have_a/) so I think it’s reaching pretty far to say they copied you. Nice looking demo, though!

        • Gaspar Ferreiro

          Well.. even though I appreciate your opinion, I would not necessarily refer to the project as a rumor when a free teaser demo has been available since December at wearvr :)

          • inesteri644

            Rumors of Twisted Arrow, not your demo. They couldn’t have copied your demo if they’ve been developing since at least July 2016 and your demo was published December 2016. I wish you luck as you finish it!

  • Herb Derb

    I’ll give this a chance as I loved final approach, it was one of the earliest games to have the requisite spit n polish to feel complete