Dick Wilde 2 is a weird game. It’s a shoot ‘em up where you, um, shoot mutated creatures and other obstacles as you float down a river on a makeshift wooden raft. The game is a kind of cross between Ridiculous Fishing and an old school shmup that is played in VR from the first-person perspective. On top of that, there’s the gratuitous redneck aesthetic. I mean, you select menu options by firing canned Vienna sausages out of your gun. So, the game definitely has a style going for it and it sticks to it but is that enough to make it worth playing or do its issues detract too much?
Dick Wilde 2 is an arcade-style game. There’s no story or cinematics, it’s all about the rootin' tootin' shootin'. The basic structure has you floating down a river shooting mutant piranhas, frogs, birds, hippos, and more as well as any obstacles (wooden barriers, exploding drums, crystals, etc) in your way. As you shoot all the stuff in front of you, you’ll fill up a power meter that gives you a more powerful weapon for a short period of time. Each level has multiple paths to take, usually branching several times per level. The different branches don’t provide any significant variation in terms of gameplay nor do they present harder or easier paths, they mainly serve as a way to divvy up the golden fish keys you’ll need to collect to progress through the game.
As mentioned, Dick Wilde 2 is a VR title. I played it on PS4 but it’s also available on Steam and Oculus. The gameplay is totally serviceable but there are a number of design decisions that take away from the fun that could be had. I had a very few tracking issues, although there were some instances where the in-game weapon models would slowly drift off their real-work counterpart's axis. This was easily fixed by restarting the game.
Though everything works fine, Dick Wilde 2 is not particularly satisfying to play. The various guns are imaginative but most of them lack any sort of oomph. The moment-to-moment action has you shooting obstacles and enemies while physically dodging enemy attacks. It’s novel for a short time but the shtick wears thin quickly. You’ll replay levels multiple times due to dying and while there is a long list of difficult games that are tough because of their difficulty, Dick Wilde 2 is not one of them. Once you finish a level, you’ll feel happier that it’s over rather than satisfied with what you accomplished.
Dick Wilde 2 also has an online-only multiplayer mode which lets you go down the river with a friend or through matchmaking. There’s no difference between the modes in terms of money earned, weapons bought, or levels unlocked. I tried multiplayer a half-dozen times and at one point I left it searching for another player for about 30 minutes. From those efforts, I only ever found one match and that player quit roughly halfway through the level. So, multiplayer exists but unless you have a dedicated partner to play with, I wouldn’t count on actually being able to enjoy it.
The art style is actually pretty great. It’s simple and cartoony but in the PSVR headset, everything has a nice crisp look. The music, while probably not going to win any awards, is catchy and fits the mood perfectly. The voice acting, while serviceable, gets long-in-the-tooth quickly. The fake-southern dialect isn’t terrible but you’ll be hearing the same lines of dialogue so many times that you’ll want to shoot Mr. Dick Wilde in the face.
Unfortunately, you can’t shoot the titular character in the face but you can use both the Move controller and the Aim controller on PS4 (nice segway, right). The Move controllers allow you to dual wield any assortment of weapons while the Aim controller limits you to one weapon at a time. Oddly enough, while each weapon has a different in-game model to represent the two different controllers, their in-game properties are exactly the same. It takes the same number of bullets to dispatch enemies and obstacles whether you’re using one or two weapons. To boot, the Aim versions of the various weapons generally cost more money than the Move versions. While it’s nice that there is support for the underutilized Aim controller, it's a completely inferior way to play compared to the Move controller.
Dick Wilde 2 a not a long game on first glance. While there are 33 levels, they generally only take five-to-ten minutes to complete if you were to finish them on the first attempt. The longevity of the game comes from the fact that most levels will need to be attempted many times to actually finish them and then replayed multiple times in order to advance in the various progression systems. Dick Wilde 2 has three worlds and each world has six regular levels, four weapon levels, and one boss level. The regular levels have you simply trying to make it to the end. Weapon levels make you use a specific gun to unlock that weapon for purchase in other levels. The boss levels, finally, have you up against a gauntlet of smaller enemies before facing off against the, well, boss. Defeating bosses is what unlocks subsequent worlds.
The biggest problem with the game is its progressions system. Money is earned in two ways: within-a-level and within-a-world. At the start and at the various branches of each level, you’ll be able to purchase new weapons as well as refill your health and upgrade your abilities, such as critical damage and the power-up timer. You earn money within a world by killing enemies. Shooting 50% of the enemies in a level nabs you $50, 75% is $50 more, and 90% is $50 more for a total of $150. You earn money within a level by shooting obstacles, where different obstacles reward you with different amounts of cash. The problems lie in the fact that at numerous points in a level and increasingly throughout the game, shooting enemies and shooting obstacles are mutually exclusive.
The game has this madcap energy that seems to want you to go crazy and shoot everything. But you can’t. You have to make a choice between enemies and obstacles. But it’s not an actual choice because it doesn't matter if you kill all the enemies in a level if you die from hitting obstacles. So, the game is actually pushing you to play more methodically, dodging enemies and concentrating fire on obstacles when things get tense. While this is the easiest way to get through a level, it completely halves the money progression system. Which also happens when you start a new world.
You have $300 at the start of each world, which is enough to buy two upgrades and nothing else. By the end of World one, you can easily start levels with about $1000. When you start World two, you’re dropped back down to $300. However, World two significantly increases the number of enemies/obstacles and the amount of ammo it takes to eliminate those enemies/obstacles. When you’re forced to use weaker weapons to shoot more and stronger enemies, it just feels like a slap in the face. You earned the right to use these more powerful weapons only to have them taken away from you as you “progress.” And the more you progress, the more it actually feels like the game is regressing around you.
Dick Wilde 2 is an interestingly bizarre game. It has a nice visual style, the music is catchy, and some of its elements are so bizarre that I want to love it. The problem is that the game is never more fun than it’s frustrating. There are glimpses of what the game could be as you float down the river shooting monsters but they are far fewer than the number of times that I ripped off the PSVR headset in frustration. Even if you love VR, shmups, and everything redneck, I cannot recommend Dick Wilde 2, especially when there are so many other fish in this genre’s sea.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.