I’ll tell you a guilty secret; I kept playing Dick Wilde for quite a while after I gave it 6/10. Not because I thought I’d maybe misjudged it as a merely decent wave shooter, but because it was actually a pretty good workout. Its feverish difficulty could make it a chore to play for some but also an excellent way to burn calories.
I’m not sure Dick Wilde 2 will have even that going for it, though.
It’s not that this sequel is notably ‘bad’ in any one area, more that it insists on retreading ground covered a hundred times over as this exhausted genre finally runs out of steam. The past six or seven months have been good to VR; we’ve had Astro Bot, Firewall, A Fisherman’s Tale and many others. Returning to a wave shooter now is simply an ugly reminder that this used to be the extent of VR gaming. That’s not something that throwing multiplayer into can fix.
Tellingly, myself and VR gaming wizard David Jagneaux didn’t have much to say about the game as we shot our way through four levels. We’ve seen this all before and often in better games; 10 minute missions in which you shoot everything in sight and not much else. Rarely did it amount to anything more than simple background noise to our conversations. We mindlessly raised our arms in the general direction of bad guys. Then we thoughtlessly held down triggers until everyone was dead. Just as soon as it happened, everything was forgotten. If that’s not a sign of another uninspiring addition to an overly-saturated genre, I’m not sure what is.
Co-op is an appreciated effort, but I fear it just makes the game too easy. From what I could tell there wasn’t much different between playing the game in single or multiplayer, making the latter somewhat unbalanced. You can choose between easier and harder paths in this one, though it didn’t seem to make much difference in co-op. Without the “refreshing” challenge of the first, Dick Wilde 2 looses what little edge the series already had.
Single player does fare a little better. Choosing the harder path by myself felt like I was playing the old Dick Wilde, complete with weaving out of the way of enemy projectiles. If you do die you go back to the very start of the level and it’s tough to muster the enthusiasm for another round.
But, even at its most grueling, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Dick Wilde 2 is behind the times. It’s not loathsome, but it’s unremarkable to the point of irrelevance. It certainly didn’t help that the preview build’s arsenal was locked out lackluster pistols, shotguns and uzis. One of the first game’s better features was its makeshift arsenal of nail guns and razor-blade spouting death machines. Screenshots and trailers suggest that that kind of fun is hidden away for later levels, though.
Not a great first impression, then. This seems to be a sequel that cruises downstream without much to say or see. But not all’s said and done; if later levels inject a more emergent pace and the high-end weapons get back to the core of the original, Bolverk may yet salvage Dick Wilde 2. As it stands, this is looking like a last whimper for a tired genre.
Dick Wilde 2 releases later this month on Rift, Vive and PSVR. Check back later for a full review.