When Cloudhead’s latest title debuted on Oculus Quest and PC VR last year I awarded it my first 5/5 rating after spending dozens of hours pistol whipping through its 10-song launch collection. Pistol Whip hit a bullseye and it is only getting better with time.
This arcade shooter is instantly fun and endlessly challenging, with the auto-aim default making you feel like a can’t-miss action movie sharpshooter seconds after picking a scene. Built-in modifiers like “Deadeye” remove that superstar feeling, though, and in its place is an exhausting and rewarding grind to master both aim and rhythm.
Since launch the developers added five more scenes — Akuma, Full Throttle, Dark Skies, High Priestess, and Religion — each adding its own distinct and beautiful landscape to the growing library of hand-crafted scenes that make Pistol Whip so different from other rhythm games like Beat Saber.
That’s what PSVR buyers get at Pistol Whip’s launch on Sony’s PS4 in mid-2020 and it is still every bit the 5/5 game I fell in love with last year. Everything in that review stands, plus new modifiers added post launch which make it easier to practice and additional options to tweak gun cosmetics.
Pistol Whip – Comfort
Pistol Whip artificially moves the player forward through its scenes in a straight line at a constant rate of speed. While nowhere near the most uncomfortable type of simulated movement VR software might employ, it is possible some players might feel a little woozy or uncomfortable. VR’s current rhythm leader Beat Saber, in contrast, moves boxes past a stationary player that should be more comfortable to a wider selection of players. Still, I am one of the most sensitive people on staff to simulator sickness and experienced not even a hint of it in Pistol Whip on any headset.
Graphically, I found visual differences between PSVR and other platforms incredibly minor, though I did miss the smoothness and comfort of 2019’s Valve Index with its high frame rate and fine tuned IPD adjustment while spending time in Sony’s 2016 headset. I captured the below comparison video showing Black Magic captured on PC VR, Quest and PSVR.
Cloudhead isn’t done with Pistol Whip yet by a long shot and the Canada-based studio is doubling down on its roadmap for this game with the upcoming Heartbreaker trilogy of songs coming very soon and the Concierge campaign due for release later this year. That means Pistol Whip might be the perfect swan song addition to a PS4 library that can occupy players through the transition to PS5.
Of note for PSVR owners is that camera placement is incredibly important in Pistol Whip. Unlike Beat Saber where the boxes come in tightly packed bunches that aren’t very forgiving, sometimes in Pistol Whip you have time to turn around and take out a missed target. That’s obviously a risky maneuver with a Move controller in your hand and only a single dual-eye camera directly in front of you. PSVR owners will probably enjoy their time with this game dramatically more with a careful high camera placement that offers more tracking coverage for this infrequent, but sometimes necessary, effort to correct a mistake and increase score.
Pistol Whip PSVR Review Verdict:
Pistol Whip’s multiple difficulties and modifiers like Deadeye and Dual-wield add depth to a game that’s more addictive and satisfying than Beat Saber. The 15 scenes included at the time of this review are all in the same general musical style and a bit of variety would be nice, but that might be coming with future updates. Pistol Whip is the game that brings me back to my VR headset again and again and I expect to keep playing through every update Cloudhead has planned for it.
Pistol Whip is available starting today on PSVR for $24.99.
For more on how we arrived at this score, read our review guidelines. Agree or disagree with our Pistol Whip PSVR review? Let us know in the comments below!
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