Roughly a year and a half after its launch for PC-based headsets, Sacralith – The Archer’s Tale makes its way to the Playstation VR. It was well-received on PC – how is the PSVR version?
Looking at the game’s title, it’s not surprising that Sacralith features the kind of bow mechanics that VR players should now be fairly familiar with. Dating back to Ace Banana in 2016 (which felt a bit like a PS3 Move game in VR), we’ve seen it in QuiVR, Ancient Amuletor, Skyrim, Raw Data and Apex Construct. Not all of them have archery as the central mechanic, but Sacralith does and its closest cousin is another game that features it – In Death, which we reviewed when it came out.
But where In Death takes the fantasy genre and applies a supernatural flavor to it, Sacralith – The Archer’s Tale sticks with a straight up medieval fantasy approach (which of course involves dragons). It’s one that fits the bow and arrow mechanic extremely well of course, and Sacralith brings it to life with impressive visuals and an all around good audiovisual presentation. Animations are well done, the music track can be sweeping in places, and there is a ton of detail on screen even though you sometimes have to peer through a bit of darkness to properly see it.
Gameplay-wise, Sacralith is a storm-the-fort kind of experience, though you’re cast in a supporting role rather than being one of the people charging at the enemy. You have to work together with them though, and they rely on you for their success. What’s fun is that you have multiple ways of helping out with your arrows, in both direct and more indirect ways.
You can fire straight at the enemies, with headshots offering additional rewards and quicker kills, or you can use arrows with special attributes to either hinder the enemy or bolster your own troops. Freezing the enemy (momentarily) is possible, which also makes a headshot with a subsequent arrow a lot more likely. Alternatively, you can give your own troops a shield, or heal them with a medicine-laden arrow.
This creates a nice tactical element to otherwise fairly straightforward gameplay, which exclusively revolves around grabbing and launching arrows and switching between vantage points to do so (through a teleportation mechanic). Are you going to play offensively and focus all your shots at the enemy, or will you try to keep your own buddies alive? The best option is often to mix the two, but switching between arrow types can be a tad frustrating in the heat of the moment – mostly because the controls for it aren’t as intuitive as the actual bow and arrow controls.
Sacralith – The Archer’s Tale features a story-driven campaign that takes you to a variety of different locations, and although the core gameplay remains the same things get mixed up by the different arrow types you unlock throughout the campaign. There’s a bit of replay value as well, because a second playthrough gives you access to these arrows earlier on in the campaign. It’s not terribly long (between two and three hours of gameplay), so it’s good to have a reason to go back even though I could see players thinking things get repetitive after a while.
It’s safe to say that Sacralith is a fairly by-the-book VR archery experience, but it handles all the basics well and is helped by an impressive audiovisual presentation and an upgrade system that adds some diversity to the mix. When you consider the friendly price point, this is a game worth grabbing if you enjoy a bit of bow and arrow action in VR.