Bowmasters feels almost like a form of stress relief. A game all about throwing projectiles at your enemies and watching as blood splatters everywhere is sure to be a fun way to unwind after a long day. It’s reasonably simple stuff, so it might not entice you for too long, but it’s certainly entertaining.
Starting out, only one mode is available to you – fighting it out against a CPU opponent. You’re presented with a long arena. You’re on one side, they’re on the other. You take turns to fling a projectile such as a javelin, flag, or even a games controller at them, hoping to knock some of their health down. This is done through pulling your finger back to reflect power, while also moving up or down to adjust the angle. There’s a certain amount of guesswork with your first throw as you attempt to figure out which angle to pursue. After that though, you can generally figure out how to tweak things just right, ensuring you can pull off a headshot nearly every time.
Most opponents take a few knocks before they’re defeated, gradually turning more bloody as you play. It’s perverse in a way, but also quite satisfying. Bowmasters uses cartoon-style graphics to ensure this doesn’t feel dark by any means. Many different character types are available, often reflecting a pop culture reference or two. Characters with a Deadpool vibe are available, for example.
You’ll unlock new game modes as you play. You can play against a friend, or participate in a tournament that has you completing a series of battles in a bid to earn plenty of money. A Bird Hunt mode is available with you trying to shoot down as many birds as possible within a set time limit. Apple Shooting has you trying to knock an apple off someone’s head. They’re all twists on the core format of Bowmasters, but are quite good at mixing things up.
Bowmasters’ longevity stems from your coin acquisition. You can use those coins to buy new characters, with each character often providing a slightly different take on things. For instance, you don’t want to use the gamer girl to knock an apple down because her controller is too chunky. Instead, you want to use a flag bearer or javelin thrower with their sleeker weapon. Many of the characters come with their own special attack, activated by tapping while the projectile is in motion. It’s a small but significant tweak to the format, giving you something else to be aware of.
Despite these efforts to keep the game feeling fresh, the more you play Bowmasters the more you realize that it is ultimately quite samey. It’s a comforting kind of samey though. I still found myself returning to it at regular points because the sweet sense of satisfaction when pulling off a good shot never really faded. Its physics engine means you get to watch as enemies tumble down a small hill because of how you hit them, and it’s oddly fun to spectate.
Bowmasters is a little heavy handed with ads, but it also throws some free chests at you, providing you with coins and the occasional new character. That means you often feel like you’re making progress, making the frequent ads a little bit easier to swallow.
It might not be the kind of game that will reside on your iPhone for months to come, but as a fun and compelling short term distraction, Bowmasters is more than worth a play.