Developer: Cloudhead Games
Platforms: Oculus Rift and Quest, and Vive
Beat Saber became the quintessential rhythm VR game of this current generation very quickly. With easy to pick up gameplay, limiting graphical detail that allows you to play for long VR sessions without too much sickness, and a great musical soundtrack to keep you moving and almost dancing, it currently holds itself up top as one of the must-haves if you own a VR headset.
In comes Pistol Whip, a stylized action game that is part John Wick, part SuperHot and other part Beat Saber. The only difference between them is that in Pistol Whip, you can march to the beat of your own drum, so to speak. I feel this game is on par with Beat Saber, both in terms of fun, replayability and action.
It can be easily described as an “on rails shooter,” where you stand in the middle of the level, and as the level scrolls forward, enemies pop up from your sides, above and below, and directly in front of you, taking aim and shooting at you. It’s up to you to move and dodge the bullets, and shoot them with one shot, or a few if they are armored. The game is simple in that it has “auto aim” as the main feature. You don’t have to be entirely accurate, unless you enable “Zero Aim” mode in the Modifiers menu, where you have to be. As the level progresses, and more enemies continue to pile up on the screen, you’ll find yourself taking shots along with the pulsing EDM beats (provided by Kannibalen Records artists like Apashe, Black Tiger Sex Machine, and HVDES) invading your ear drums. This is how you increase your score multipliers. You don’t have to shoot to the beat of the music, but if you’re aiming for the high score, you’ll need to learn the music, and find the beat. You do have a health/armor meter, and that can be replenished with well-timed pistol shots, or a “pistol whip,” where you smack an enemy with your pistol.
This is a VERY ACTIVE game. You won’t realize how much you’re moving until three attempts in, and sweat is starting to drip down your back. This game prefers you to play with a lot of space as you’ll be ducking almost all the way down to the floor, and taking a few steps to the sides to avoid obstacles and finding the best shooting angles. Some levels can be so hectic that you won’t have a moment to rest throughout the entire song, which can last on average just under 3 minutes. So, word of warning: stretch and warm up before playing this game.
And play with a good pair of headphones. Not only is the music pounding, but the gun sound effects have a deep punch that is very satisfying. There are even three types of gun sound effects to choose from, so even if you like the sound of a silenced pistol, there’s an option for that! Even the satisfying THUMP of pistol whipping an enemy sounds oh so good!
This. Game. Is. Fun. Despite your taste in music, the pulse pounding EDM beats fit the tone of the content, and for every male wanting to be John Wick (or female wanting to be Hale Berry or Charlize Theron) this fulfills that fantasy. You’ll be moving more than you’ll be expecting, and the stylized graphics won’t get you sick as you do it. It doesn’t have much of a song selection at the start (10 songs), but the developers Cloudhead Games promised more to come. This game will raise your heart rate, and have you laughing to yourself over and over as you aim for higher scores, higher difficulties, and even play around with modifiers (like dual pistol mode!). Enjoy the ride!
-Fast paced gameplay
-Excellent sound effects
-Not enough songs…yet