Continuing a minor, but consistently entertaining, trend of ideally simple games made unreasonably complex by extremely detailed controls (think QWOP and Surgeon Simulator 2013), comes Probably Archery, a title developed by South East Games during the 7DFPS event, which challenges programmers to make a game in just 7 days.
Probably Archery gets its name from the fact the developers actually have no idea what real archery is like, but apparently do assume that it is keyboard smashingly difficult as evidenced by controls which require you to independently move your shoulders, elbows, and wrists with various button combinations.
Much like QWOP and Surgeon Simulator, the majority of your time will be spent wrestling these controls to the point where you feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment even notching an arrow properly in your bow, and taking a shot that goes forward. Most of the early fun in the game derives from your hilarious failed attempts at doing so (I once got my wrists crossed and shot an arrow directly through my arm), while the far off targets you are supposed to be hitting might has well be giant middle fingers for all the purpose they will lend to the experience early on.
The thing about it, though, is that you do eventually kind of figure out what is going on and will hit a target at some point, which generates an appropriately satisfying feeling. Of course you’ll likely have no idea how you did it, and spend the next few dozen or so tries putting arrows into the ground, but with a lot of patience you can actually get a pretty good feel for how the mechanics work, and start taking reasonable shots at targets (even though you’ll still miss them the majority of the time).
Where Probably Archery really hits the mark is in the multiplayer mode, which sees you and a balloon headed rival (not a metaphor) facing off at a distance with the goal of trying to hit each other first. Actually doing so makes your opponent explode, and triggers the message “They exploded! That probably happens in archery.”
While a match between skilled players no doubt has its own entertainment value, having two amateur players hurriedly fumble with the controls and take miserably prepped shots at each other is one of the funniest game experiences you’ll have this year. The panicked mistakes it generates really makes me hope that Surgeon Simulator comes out with a competitive mode of its own, as the results in this type of game are painfully hilarious.
Probably Archery definitely shows signs of being developed in 7 days, but they are mostly irrelevant when stacked against the entertainment value this consistently frustrating, but equally enjoyable, title delivers. A free download, there’s little reason to not give it a shot and give those virtual archery skills you think you got from games like The Last of Us, Crysis 3 and Tomb Raider an ego check.