I’m sure many of you have already heard the name Probably Archery. Maybe you’ve watched your favorite YouTube sensation put together a Let’s Play-style video, or caught a trailer via Steam. If you haven’t, maybe once you’re done reading my take on this bizarre, difficult title you’ll consider it worth a look. Maybe not; I don’t know your life! Whatever the case, I did get the chance to jump in and give this one a very poorly aimed shot, so here goes.
The “difficult-to-control” scheme is something that’s taken off recently. From browser titles like GWOP and GIRP to Steam-supported Surgeon Simulator 2013 and so forth, the formula employed by Probably Archery has become a mainstay in the gaming community. It’s some kind of phenomenon of a gimmick, but I’m not sure it does much more than provide some amusing, if frustrating, play. Of course, what are games for, if not amusement and occasional frustration? Isn’t that the whole point of them, stretching back to the days of their birth as a medium? Aren’t those the two things we most often look for when we’re looking at games?
The gameplay in Probably Archery is relatively simplistic, but devilishly complex at the same time. You’ve got control of both arms, with articulation in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder to move around. The idea is that you pull an arrow from an unseen quiver, manipulate your arms to nock it, draw back, aim, and fire. Of course, the intentionally-difficult controls make this task all but impossible – I spent more time trying to nock my arrows than I did aiming and firing, much less actually hitting any intended target. There were some times I’d get into an ok groove and loose arrows pretty quickly, but aiming them at anything in particular remains something that eludes me most every time. I think the best I got was hitting four of the targets in the Target Practice mode, and that likely took a solid half-hour or more of work to accomplish.
I’ll be entirely honest: trying to pin down a score for something like Probably Archery is a difficult proposition. On the one hand, the maddening scheme of interaction is frustrating; on the other, it’s supposed tobe. A bigger part of the problem for me, I think, is that the formula has been done to death. It’s no longer an innovative, unique feature, which takes some of the appeal of it. Throw in the $11.99 price tag ($8.99 sale as of this writing), and I’m hard-pressed to give a recommendation. There are some additional modes, and a second included game of sorts (Zoccer, or Zombie Soccer) which add in some content, boosting the value proposition, but judging the game on its own merit, I find it falling a little flat — just like many of my arrows.
[+Good for some amusement] [+Assortment of game modes][-Weak sound design] [-Gameplay is nothing new or innovative] [-Priced too high]