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  • Writer's pictureDom O'Leary

PSVR2 Review: Pistol Whip

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Welcome to my belated review of Pistol Whip's PSVR2 launch. Click the header image to see 46 minutes of mostly unadulterated gameplay, if you'd rather see the game in action on YouTube.



Pistol Whip from Cloudhead Games was a mainstay of many a PSVR back catalogue, including mine. When Sony's new headset launched, Cloudhead were among the first developers to update their mutliplatform rythm-action game for PS5 and PSVR2.


Multi-Platform Favourite

While many launch titles have been played, loved, and left by early adopters of the PSVR2, the updated and up-ressed version of Pistol Whip seems to, once again, stay in the conversation around must-play VR games. We've certainly seen it feature in Sony sales charts more than once, including last months' top PSVR2 sales for the EU and the US.


That's in no small part thanks to Cloudhead's efforts to update the game since launch. The most recent additions feature new songs and levels, but the game has seen many iterations. From the highly popular "styles" system for customised gameplay, to the multiplayer and party modes, Pistol Whip is an evolving game that rarely misses a beat.



"Here's some iconically-stylized polygons for ya"


New Levels of Musical Brutality


So, this review is aimed at highlighting the improvements specific to the PSVR2 version of the game and how they make it shine brighter than its previous-gen version. For headset early adopters, you might want to just go play your copy of the game. For anyone new to Pistol Whip or PSVR2 though, there's a lot to talk about.


I've always appreciated Pistol Whips' no-nonsense introduction to the game. You're loaded in to a full 3D menu space with a gun to select your game mode. Now, the beat of the background music subtely pulses in the headset. There's no mistaking which game you just loaded into. It drips with iconic style from the menus, to the colour pallet, to the unmistakeable stylized geometry and characters you'll fight through.


All of these aspects are only improved by the crisp resolution and advanced haptics that the PSVR2 has become known for. From the metronomic pulse (Adjustable in intensity, for those who'd like to know) in your contollers and headset, to the epic feeling of a bullet whizzing straight past your ear, Cloudhead take full advantage of the new features.


It's worth noting that this will make much more of a difference if you come over from an older headset, like I did. That's no detriment to the work the developers have done porting and reworking this game for PS5 and PSVR2 though.


"The best shot I have of a bullet near my ear"


What if I've Never Heard of Pistol Whip?


Then this section is for you. Rejoice! Originally released on Steam in 2019 and ported to PS4 and PSVR in 2020, Pistol Whip attracted awards right from release. The game's November release didn't stop it taking VR Game Of The Year awards from Steam VR and Polygon in 2019, before taking the same title at the DICE awards in 2020.


The game blends first-person shooter action with rythm elements, you'll dodge and fire your guns to a metronomic beat. In-game, this all happens as you're funnelled down corridors, streets, and through wide open plains. As bad guys rush from sidestreets, rooftops, or just drop right in front of you, you'll take out waves of enemies while moving to a song of basslines and bullets.


The game moves you automatically, which might sound like a turn-off for some. This blends well with the rthymic elements of the game, though, with the developers cleverly adjusting the pace as the songs move through phases of greater or lesser intensity.


"This one's in Boss-level time"


It's honestly unlikely you'll take this in as you play, at least at first. The game's soundtrack will drive you through levels without taking in the finer elements if your early experiences are anything like mine.


Yet, as you get used to the step-shoot-dodge loop of each song, you'll start to see where enemies spawn, chaining shots right on cue as you adapt. Then, you'll start to see all of the detail in each polygonal environment. From pipes and towers falling around you in boss fights, to tumbleweeds blowing past in the desert, to the donut-spinning dune buggies in the latest level, Pistol Whip is full of little touches that really elevate the experience of shooting your way through a song.


Is There A Catch?


If you weren't put off by the descriptions above, then the answer is no. Pistol Whip has few flaws. The only issue I've had that gets in the way of the experience are pauses related to the play area boundary I set, and there's a menu to adjust the settings in-game too, so I have to accept that's more to do with my setup than the game. On top of that, every update that has come to the game since its release has been free of charge to current owners.


Having said that, your mileage with the game will vary based on how much you enjoy playing the songs again with the different style settings, weapons, and difficulties. Personally, I've played this game on and off for 2 years without ever removing it from my hard drive, across two headsets and consoles, so maybe my opinion isn't exactly impartial.


Bearing that in mind, I'd say with the selection of now 30+ tracks, story-driven campaign levels with cutscenes, and the wealth of customisation options, Pistol Whip is well worth its indie game pricing on PS5. This is despite the lack of the PCVR versions' popular Pistol Mix modding tools.


Watch the stream highlight on our Twitch or our YouTube and feel free to follow or subscribe to stay up to date with new uncommentated gameplay streams like this one, as well as other gaming shenanigans.


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