Preview: BARDO – You Need to Love Archery

If there’s one first-person weapon that’s going to give you a workout then it’s the bow. While this ranged weapon is no match for a trusty gun, it’s become prevalent in virtual reality (VR) titles due to its ability to immerse players in the moment whilst giving them something more to do than pull a trigger. Offering one of those ‘easy to use, difficult to master’ kind of deals, the bow and arrow arrangement has been effectively used in titles like Apex Construct and In Death. Now BARDO from indie developer Apache has arrived on Steam Early Access offering it take on the weapon.

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Unlike the other videogames mentioned BARDO seems to take a step back when it comes to VR, back to when players were happy to stand still for ages firing shot after shot at a seemingly endless wave of enemies. This is a classic wave shooter which pulls no punches, it’s just you, a bow, a couple of abilities and a whole heap of nasty enemies to kill.

In its present form BARDO offers a couple of levels, five enemy types and a big old boss to vanquish. Each level is made up of 20 waves and thankfully after every five there’s a checkpoint – or else you might get rather annoyed dying on wave 19 only to go back to the start. As with any wave-based shooter you’re slowly introduced to the different enemy types – all of which fly, there’s nothing ground-based – which randomly spawn at distance then tend to fly straight at you wielding swords, spitting fire balls or rather unnervingly a screaming head.

What’s striking about BARDO is its visual design. With a rather beautiful oriental feel – you are in fact a Tibetan archer who’s confronting hordes of reanimated and corrupt Tsen spirits – on both the enemies and environment alike, the videogame certainly looks far more interesting than what the gameplay presents.

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And when there’s no movement to worry about Apache has spent time perfecting its bow mechanics. With a strong contingent of bow related videogames to choose from nowadays, poor bow mechanics would just kill a title instantly. Luckily that’s not the case with BARDO, having one of the best bow mechanics VRFocus has come across. Allowing for rapid firing of arrows – there’s no quiver to worry about – as well as decent accuracy at distance.

The bow also features the two special abilities found in the experience. A slow down time function which activates with every arrow drawn, giving just a few additional moments to make aiming easier. Should a group of enemies get too close they can be knocked back for some breathing room.

BARDO feels very close to the completed article, with little wrong with it when it comes to glitches or optimization. And it does offer some entertaining gameplay. It’s just difficult to see where it might find its niche in an ever growing VR market that’s offering bigger adventures with more engaging gameplay. Hopefully Apache has a few more ideas up its sleeve for Early Access to broaden the experience.