Review – Dick Wilde 2
If there is one genre that has become synonymous with VR, it is the shooting gallery games. These games don’t require any actual player movement through the levels other than pointing, aiming, and shooting. These experiences were very fun when VR was still relatively new and developers were getting their sea legs in how the tracking and such would work. But in 2019 when VR has come such a long way with delivering large, full featured experiences; shooting gallery games are starting to feel a bit stale. I wasn’t able to play the first Dick Wilde, but Bolvark Games was nice enough to send us the sequel, so let’s see if this shooting gallery game has what it takes to stay fresh. Let’s get buck wild with Dick Wilde.
There isn’t much of a story to be had in Dick Wilde 2, but shooting galleries don’t typically require much. The rivers in the area have been polluted with toxic sludge and chemicals and it is up to you and Dick to clear out the debris and mutated wildlife. That’s about all there is to it story-wise. Honestly, it doesn’t try to be much more than just a silly, quirky, shooting game.
The gameplay consists of floating down rivers on Dick’s barge shooting various amounts of debris and mutated wildlife. The debris range from wooden boxes, various barrels, cars, buses, beaver damns, and various other types of barriers. Wildlife variety entails various types of massive critters like piranha, frogs, rats riding alligators, massive hippos, beavers, and many more. Majority of enemies will shoot fireballs straight at you, but some will lob purple orbs, blue orbs that will track you, or they will get up close and personal with a bite. The orbs that are shot at you are destroyable with a well placed bullet, so keeping on your toes defensively is advantages as well.
Through each level there are various checkpoints and paths you can take. The checkpoints allow you to spend the money you have earned destroying debris and mutants on new weapons, upgrades, and refilling your health. The paths only come down to taking the left or right route, but there are hidden keys you must find on certain paths to unlock other levels. Often there will be keys on both the right and left paths encouraging you to play through multiple times if you need to obtain extra keys. You’ll need to collect a certain amount of keys to continue through the game, unlock the world’s boss, and then continue to the next world.
Collecting all the keys early on in the beginning levels is recommended since collecting keys will always allow you to play through a training mission for a new weapon. Once you beat the training mission, that new weapon or variation will be available to purchase in levels. Unlocking these weapons early will significantly help you as the difficulty ramps up fairly quickly. It’s smart to replay the first few missions not only for the keys, but also to three star each one. Three staring levels grant you more starting money in that world. This can make all the difference from only being able to start with basic pistols to then be able to buy two upgraded assault rifles from the very start of the levels.
If you’re diligent in collecting all keys, then you aren’t required to finish all the levels in a world before being able to attempt the world’s boss. Using my strategy listed above, the bosses end up not being too difficult. In fact, some of the regular levels gave me more trouble than the actual world bosses did. The bosses themselves have a cool design and luckily aren’t just large versions of the regular enemies. I just wish they posed more of a threat and there were more than just one per world, of which there are only three in total.
The shooting itself is well done with accurate aiming, no drifting issues, and the tracking seems well done. My one critique is the aiming seemed a bit floaty, but nothing that ruined the experience. The guns are also great to use and each have their positives and negatives to them. There are four main gun categories: Pistols, Shotguns, Machine Guns, and Special Weapons. You’ll start with the base versions of these, but as you play through you will unlock new variations of these weapons. The special weapons are typically futuristic with laser beams and the like besides the bow, but that is useless. There is a power up that you can use once your gauge is filled which allows you to use two explosive grenade launchers, but I found the regular weapons to be more effective.
While the shooting is solid, the weapons are decent, and a good selection of enemies, where Dick Wilde 2 falls extremely short is in the level designs. As I mentioned above, there are three worlds and each has a good amount of levels within them, even including the missions to unlock new weapons. But what boggles my mind is that there is really only three different kinds of environments. There is a forest area, an industrial area, and an area within a sewer tunnel. The very first level starts in the forest, then you work down to the sewer, but then it starts that same loop back again. Now, they aren’t exactly the same each time, but all that changes are some of the background decorations, enemies, and a slightly different layout. By World 2 I was getting massive waves of “haven’t I already done this before?”, and by the World 3 I was already bored of the gameplay loop. Blast debris, shoot monsters, repeat, repeat, repeat, all the while the levels feeling all too similar.
The graphics are enjoyable with its bold cartoony art style, sporting vibrant colors, and fun enemy designs. The weapons are also nicely detailed with high quality textures. The UI is done in an 8-bit retro fashion which I’m always okay with if it’s done well as it is here. Where Dick Wilde 2 falls short is in its environments. Surroundings look blurry with a general lack of detail and low quality textures. Most of the time you will be too busy blasting and dodging, but there are times at the checkpoints where you can soak in the scenery, although it’s not worth doing so.
Sound design is a bit of a hit or miss here with gun sound effects being well done and packing a punch, but there is a lack of a good soundtrack. Shooting gallery games can often pump you up easily during waves with an upbeat hard hitting soundtrack, but that is nowhere to be heard here. Dick Wilde himself offers some narrations and commentary through levels, often he has some fun quips that poke fun at some industry blunders as of late. For example, he says “If you purchase some progress here, you might get a feeling of pride and accomplishment”. While these are hilarious the first time around, after hearing them multiple times (even sometimes multiple times in a row), they do lose their humor.
Dick Wilde 2 is by no means a bad game, but it isn’t one that will have you jumping for joy and showing your friends. It is a competent shooting gallery game that is unfortunately let down by some poor level design. Perhaps it was a budgetary reason, but only having three kinds of levels in a game that has over thirty missions is not the best of ideas. If you’re looking for a causal shooting game, then Dick WIlde 2 may just be the thing for you as it does offer a good amount of content and even supports a co-op mode. If you’re a VR gamer like myself who has just about moved past these kind of experiences, then there is nothing in here that will keep you coming back for more.
A pleasing cartoony art design with fun enemy designs and bright colors. Surrounding environments lack detail with low quality textures.
Standard shooting gallery affair, but controls are well done and no instances of drifting. Aiming is a tad floaty, but nothing distracting.
The weapons and various sound effects are well done, but there is a lack of interesting song choices and Dick Wilde’s voice lines are repeated far too often.
While the shooting itself is fun and there is a nice selection of weapons, the level design is severely lacking since it repeats the same three location settings with barely any changes other than enemy variety.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Dick Wilde 2 is available now on PSVR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive.
Reviewed on PSVR.
A copy of Dick Wilde 2 was provided by the publisher.