Pistol Whip (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 30.11.2021

Review for Pistol Whip on PC

When the exhilarating action flick known as John Wick hit cinemas, one of the abiding memories many had was around Keanu Reeves' unique one-shot style of using his pistol. Who knew that a few short years later, in late 2019, Cloudhead Games would take this memorable form of cinematic action and use it as the base for a VR action-rhythm FPS. Pistol Whip combines the musicality of something like [I[Beat Saber[/i] but gives it a whole different ballgame, with enemies shooting and spawning to the breakneck and adrenaline pumping tracks from people like Magic Sword, HVDES and Black Tiger Sex Machine. It has electronic music, colourful environments, a good workout, and now a new narrative expansion in the recently released '2089' - a cinematic campaign with new weapons, enemies and including an epic boss battle. Pistol Whip is available on the Oculus store and Steam platform, with Cubed3 reviewing on the Oculus Quest 2.

Beat Saber, as Cubed3 can attest to, is a fantastic game - but sometimes a stretch on the Oculus Quest calls for that burst of intensity beyond the dancing block chopping phenomenon. When it comes to going hell-for-leather and really working up an adrenaline thrill - Pistol Whip gets turned to time and time again.

For anyone unfamiliar, Pistol Whip operates via an 'on-rails' system, with enemies spawning constantly, ready to be dispatched by a well-timed shot. While this shooting gallery approach is nothing new to VR, where Cloudhead Games have revolutionised their title is in the use of music rhythm and timing to synchronise the enemies.

Screenshot for Pistol Whip on PC

Enemies shoot and move to the timing of the beat across handfuls of unique stages that can all be challenged on multiple difficulties and with a host of modifiers that change the experience. Everything from auto-aim that makes things more relaxed, to 'vengeance' which means enemies shoot back after being shot and adds a whole new level of chaos.

While initially it can be frustrating to get in the grove of how things operate, what makes Pistol Whip so fantastic is the sense of organic progression and satisfaction at actually playing through stages, practising and then the sudden click as the timing of rhythm and the player actions finally combine. It is unlike any other experience so far in VR in the sense of how rewarding it is.

From ducking and diving bullets fired from every direction, to navigating physical obstacles, this is an experience that also doubles up as a hefty workout. There's absolutely no doubt on even the lower difficulty levels, working up a sweat to get the best score is an absolute certainty.

Screenshot for Pistol Whip on PC

The quality of the soundtrack however and the sheer majesty of the art-style as the camera sweeps through these scenes means that it never feels like a workout or a chore - which is the ultimate goal of any fitness-focused peripheral or game. The music never fails to get the blood pumping and this electronic soundtrack fits the cyberpunk aesthetic of the visuals to an absolute 'T'.

It's not just pure fitness and breaking leaderboards anymore either. A recent update last month has added a cinematic story - 2089 - the heroic tale of John Asimov, set across five new linked scenes. It's nothing that hasn't been done before of course, the violent uprising of killer machines a well-worn trope that it would be good to see some variety to. However, it is ultimately more great music and better yet, new weapons and new styles of enemies.

Screenshot for Pistol Whip on PC

It is also great that it mixes things up beyond the base experience. For example, without giving away spoilers - a section involves the use of hand-to-hand combat rather than weapons, which is a nice tilt from the usual style of the game.

The comic-book inspired cutscenes between each of the scenes as the story is told are also some of the most impressive of the type on the Oculus Quest 2 just in terms of how detailed, vibrantly colourful and expressive they are. It really helps to bring this short tale alive, alongside the excellent boss fight, which is one better experienced by the player, as words can't do justice to the sheer chaotic action endured.

Screenshot for Pistol Whip on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It's hard to think of a better example of what VR does so well than Pistol Whip. An immensely enjoyable soundtrack that directly feeds into the core gameplay loop and some wonderfully vibrant visuals all add together with addictive gameplay to make this a fantastic experience. For a great workout it's perfect but with the modifiers allowing more relaxed gameplay, it also can appeal to those who just want some escapism. 2089 adds a new layer on top with an actual narrative tying together the gameplay, adding to what is already a pretty great package. The fact that all the content was added as free updates also goes to show not all VR games need to be extortionately priced.

Developer

Cloudhead Games

Publisher

Cloudhead Games

Genre

Rhythm

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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