One of the more populated genres in VR at the moment, it takes quite a bit to stand out from the crowd with a shooting range game. It’s a genre that works well, with all three major VR platforms now having motion controllers, letting you wield all manner of virtualised firearms with ease. It’s just that you need a hook to get people’s attention. With a name like Dick Wilde, there’s a good chance that Bolvërk Games’ effort will do just that.
As Joachim Brüel Gerber, the game’s Creative Director said, “The reason why we chose that name was because we wanted something that was redneck-ish. We were going onto the internet and searching for weird redneck names, and this was the one that made us giggle the most. It was actually supposed to be called Dick Wilde’s Craziest Catch, but we weren’t catching anything anymore, so we just ended up with Dick Wilde!”
There’s certainly more than a little bit of a Ridiculous Fishing vibe to Dick’s method of pest control and extermination. As he heads out to the swamp, the lagoon, or wherever it is he’s called up to, he doesn’t pick up traps, poisons or fumigators, he reaches instead for his shotgun and shield, his harpoon and buzzsaw gun, his electrified bow and arrow. With two Oculus Touch controllers in hand – the game’s also out on Vive and coming soon to PSVR with Aim controller support – it makes sense that you’d be given two guns to hold, and in most cases with this game, you are.
“We started out with axes, baseball bats and a lot of weird things,” Joachim revealed. “After trying out a lot of different things, we figured out that shooting weapons were the most fun. At the start you were using these axes for throwing, and we actually found a way to make it really good, but it just wasn’t the same fun as shooting things. So we scrapped everything and started making shooting weapons instead.”
Of course, there’s good reason for this arsenal, because the animals in this game really are vicious and out to get you. Sharks, piranhas and other fish will swim at you before leaping up to bite at your face, while seagulls and eagles send their own bird crap your way, forcing you to dodge out of the way. It’s a game that keeps you active, that’s for certain, as you’re forced to keep track of everything heading towards you, making sure to prioritise your targets and physically dodge any rancid goop that’s heading towards your face that will obscure your view for a while.
Every once in a while, a golden fish will leap out of the water before diving back into safety, but if you manage to shoot it out of the sky, you’ll be rewarded with a nice bundle of bonus points. It’s actually for this reason that I found myself shifting away from the harpoon side of my weapon to the buzzsaw alternate fire, happily spamming the fire button to send a near endless stream of circular saw blades into the path of whatever vile creatures I can see. It worked a treat, but I still made sure to occasionally switch back to the harpoon for some more precise shooting.
By contrast, I really struggled when I had the electrified bow and arrow in hand. Going from being able to spam projectiles to having to aim harpoons and then further to having a two handed weapon was a bit too much for me to be a particularly prolific pest controller – I was also informed that the lagoon level I’d been pushed to try was also damned difficult, with some weapons better suited to certain situations. Then again, it’s got a nice area of effect, with pulling the bow back to charge up a shot electrifying the area around whatever it hits. If you’ve got good aim, it’ll be fantastic for clearing multiple incoming pests at once.
The game will feature leaderboards on a per weapon basis. “You have all these different weapons that work in different ways, so for instance, you like the saw blade gun, right?” Joachim said. “Well other people might like the bow even more, so you have your preferences. You don’t have like, ‘OK, this is the best weapon, this is the one you get most points with,’ it’s more like if you’re good with this weapon, you can get the high score for that weapon.”
Gunning for that high score, you need to make it through each wave as quickly as possible, racking up those kills and points for a three star rating. Helping you do that are a few power ups that you can choose from between waves. If you’ve taken a few hits, stock up on health, but you might prefer to lay down some mines or set up an automated turret alongside you for a bit of extra help. Chances are you’ll need all the help you can get.
There’s a reason why shooting galleries work well on VR, and it’s because they’re easy to dive into and have a lot of fun with. It’s bound to be the name that grabs people’s attention with Dick Wilde, but there’s also a solid, fun and challenging shooter in there to test yourself against.
Dick Wilde is out now for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and is coming next month to PlayStation VR.