Odd Meter Games, an independent VR game developer from Moscow, has given us a fantastic bow and arrow first person shooter set in medieval times. In Sacralith: The Archer’s Tale, you are an archer who accompanies three monks on a quest for a magic stone known as the sacralith. While on the journey, you encounter a variety of enemies – from simple village peasants to dangerous armored giants that are incredibly difficult to kill. In order to progress through the increasingly challenging levels, you must build up and use your collection of unlockable abilities and special arrows.
You can see a glimpse of the beautiful scenes in the game trailer. The settings change with each level (or episode) and each one is stunning. Unfortunately, you don’t have much time to enjoy the scenery because you’re trying to keep your monks alive. As the game progresses and the hordes grow, this becomes more difficult. If even one of your companions die, it results in a failure of that level. Fortunately the game saves your progress and allows you to start again at the level where you died.
As expected from a bow and arrow game, you’ll need to shoot a lot of arrows in order to stay alive. In the heat of battle, I draw an arrow about every 2 seconds and sometimes more quickly than that. With this type of rapid fire, my arms and shoulders are exhausted after about 30 minutes of this game, but I continue to love it. As an added benefit, there has been noticeable toning to my biceps since I started playing this a couple of months ago during the beta!
Due to health problems that have damaged blood flow to my legs, I typically play VR games seated. With that said, since most people play standing, I want to give you an accurate assessment of the calories you might burn while playing this game so I did two separate 30-minute tests. I used a Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro to track my progress.
These are the results of my 30-minute session (seated):
- Calories burned: 169
- Average heart rate: 135
- Maximum heart rate: 198
These are the results of my 30-minute session (standing):
- Calories burned: 176
- Average heart rate: 145
- Max heart rate: 218
For this workout session, my target heart rate was a little elevated, but it was still in an acceptable range for intense aerobic exercise. At times during the workout, my heart rate reached 198, which exceeded my maximum recommended level. Even though this is a single player game, I am incredibly competitive so I’m sure my elevated heart rate was simply a consequence of the fact that I was trying desperately to fend off all the enemies. During this 30-minute play session, I died six or seven times and it was definitely intense.
In this game, you must hold your arms up almost constantly. You only have one weapon – your bow and arrow – so you repeat the same motion to draw your arrow literally hundreds of times. Although you’re holding the bow with one hand and pulling arrows with the other, your arms, shoulders and chest muscles on both sides receive a great workout.
Although I play seated, I still use my legs to some degree. For a standing player, however, you would be able to bend, turn and twist while you shoot arrows. Your legs will receive a particularly good workout as you try to find an angle from which you can best kill swarms of enemies.
Core and Balance 9/10
Even in virtual reality, archery requires a lot of balance and coordination. You’ll receive a terrific core workout when you tighten your stomach and chest muscles to hold the bow and draw arrows. As you perfect your archery skills in the game, you’ll notice improvement in your core muscles.
Time Perception 7/10
Since there is a story to the game, this gives you incentive to keep going even when you might want to give up. There were several levels where I died repeatedly and I still haven’t completely finished the game, but I’m enjoying the journey.
Although there is only one mode – a single player campaign story, the game is enjoyable enough that it makes you want to play it again so that you can kill all the enemies more quickly, shoot more accurately, etc.. There isn’t a multiplayer mode, but there is a leaderboard that compares your scores to other players. It’s fun to see if you can beat your own previous scores and those of others as well. As far as the amount of time you could play, the map is pretty large. I’ve played at least 7-8 hours and I’ve only just made it to the fifth of six levels.
Fitness Scalability 6/10
The game has an established story with specific levels or episodes through which you have to journey successfully. You could choose to play with the opposite hand to give yourself more of a challenge. The main option for fitness scalability would be to add leg weights or a weighted vest. These work well with archery-based games and would work well for Sacralith.
Lack of Nausea 10/10
In order to move from one location in the game to the next, you simply click on the next vantage point. It’s simple, but it works. Since teleportation is the only movement option in the game, nausea shouldn’t be an issue.
Social Competition 6/10
Unfortunately, the game is single player so there isn’t live social interaction. With a leaderboard for each level, however, you can compare your score against other players and try to improve from one game to the next.
VRFI Fit Score 8/10
This is a terrific game for anyone who might enjoy bow and arrow first person shooter games. If it weren’t for the changing scenery and the continuing storyline, the repetition might be an issue but the artwork is well done and you’re on an interesting quest so you want to keep going. In terms of a physical challenge, you will definitely see a rise in your heart rate and feel the burn in your arms if you play for any amount of time. You will experience a good workout with this story-driven game.
This game has beautiful graphics.
Bow and arrow shooting mechanics feel natural.
You get a great workout – especially your arms, shoulders and core.
It’s fun to use aspects of the environment (poison plants or shooting an enemy off a log, for example) to help you win a battle.
There is only one weapon (because it is a bow and arrow game).
It takes quite a long time for each level to load.
If you start a new game rather than load an existing save, you can’t skip the introductory song.
Sacralith: The Archer’s Tale is available on Steam and playable on a Vive or an Oculus Rift. Full price for the game is $19.99, but with regular discounts you should be able to find it for less. I paid full price and definitely feel like it has been worth it!