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Pistol Whip - Game review

Game released Nov 07, 2019

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Pistol Whip

MAP reviews Pistol Whip
Review by: MAP
Posted on: Sep 03, 2021
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Pistol Whip. A single player, first person action shooter. Developed by Cloudhead Games. Available on the Oculus Rift, Rift S, Quest, HTC Vive, Valve Index, Windows Mixed Reality headsets and soon to come out on the PlayStation. The game fully supports handheld VR controllers.The game is rated for players aged 16+

Game Languages: English

Expected gameplay: Approximately 3 - 5 minutes a level (there are 10 levels, but are very replayable)


Pistol Whip. A game inspired by adrenalin action movies like John Wick and Equilibrium, Pistol Whip injects you into a world of fast-paced gun action, a split second affair where you shoot your way through an explosive batch of hand-crafted action scenes each set to their own pulse-pounding soundtrack, taking down enemies in the fastest possible time. Shoot, reload and dodge bullets Matrix style to the rhythm of the beat.

Two games rolled into one

Pistol Whip, a game best described as being a mix between Beat Saber and Superhot VR. Beat Saber for the fast paced gameplay and banging soundtracks and Superhot closely resembling the shooting scenes and bullet dodging only at a much faster pace. Pistol Whip is marginally better graphically than Superhot, in that there’s more polygons that make up the enemies and overall it is slightly more colorful.


Firstly Pistol Whip has no teleportation of any kind. Essentially you’re grounded! However, you do move, only in one direction. Your player automatically moves forward in a straight line at a fast walking pace, allowing you to pivot left and right to a certain degree, but that’s about it. It's kind of weird to begin with but you get used to it. You’d think this would make you feel sick, but far from it. The movement is so smooth and slick I personally didn’t experience any nausea whatsoever (unless you drink copious amounts of alcohol before you play, then I wouldn’t recommend it. :-))


After strapping my guns to my wrists and entering the game, you’re initially presented with two options; You can jump straight in, clicking on ‘Start’ or visit the training area, which I’d recommend. It takes less than a minute and gives you some idea on what to expect, such as shooting the enemy, ducking and dodging. Once you’re done with that, you’re taken into the main foyer. From here you can tweak the game settings, set the game difficulty, customise your weapons and view the leaderboard. More on that later.


The graphics aren't mind blowingly detailed, they are simple but serve the game well. There are currently 10 levels to choose from all of which are unique, offer varied challenges and are accompanied with their very own upbeat soundtrack that you somehow want to shoot to the rhythm of. The soundtracks are absolutely awesome! It really gets the adrenaline flowing and your blood pumping. Pistol Whip is an original and is far more fun than Beat Saber in my opinion, it’s like playing Super Hot in fast-mo whilst on crack.

10 levels

It goes without saying you need to shoot the bad guys, with each enemy taking one or more shots for the kill. The slender looking chaps (‘suits’ I call them), only require a single shot to kill. The guys with the white armor vest, two shots. Finally the enemies with the vest and crash helmet, 4 shots. You need to think quickly and fire off the right amount of shots, trying not to over fire out of beat to the soundtrack, if you hope to get a high score.The enemies

Scoring System

From what I experienced, the overall score at the end of each level depends on a variety of factors. The most important seemingly based on how accurate your shooting is to the rhythm of the music and at what distance you take down the enemy, before any bullets hit you, so you need lightning reflexes. Pistol Whip is a game of orchestral flow and rhythm, combining timing and accuracy is key in achieving the highest scores. If you're shot, walk into a pillar or crack your head when ducking this will also affect your score. The good thing is there’s no time limit as the game always moves at a predetermined speed, so it’s impossible to finish any of the levels quicker than you did the last time around. Don't forget to check out the tips at the bottom of this page.

In case you’re wondering; “How to get the best scores on Pistol Whip”, I’ve added a detailed section on this at the bottom of this page.

Pistol Whip high score

What I really enjoyed about Pistol Whip was how easy it was to shoot the enemy and how satisfying It was to see them shatter and disintegrate when taking on lead. The shooting was so much fun and felt very responsive throughout. The developers integrated Aim Assist (AA) which works suprisingly well. Its so easy to land shots even in fast succession.

The sprite map around the enemies must be quite large, as shooting anywhere around the general location of the body appears to be the kill zone, so you don’t need to be that accurate. Imagine how difficult it would be if the kill zones were tighter or the various body parts were factored in, for example the head, for head-shots - damn that would be difficult! 

Lock and load

The mechanics of reloading your pistol is really cool. There are various reload options to choose from within the settings. I opted to reload my weapon when lowered, which seems to work very well. The dynamics of reloading suits the game perfectly, it is beautifully simplistic and empowering.


The markers and bullet tracers were a nice touch. It’s handy to see when you’ve been marked and when you’ve actually been shot at, in order to dodge those deadly point-sapping projectiles. Get shot too many times and you’re a goner!... 2 shots to be precise.

Avoiding bullets


Pistol Whip is a pretty easy game, it can be as challenging as you want. You have three different difficulty settings to choose from. I played the game on normal difficulty and still managed to get to the end of the level without dying. I suggest you try them all, starting by getting your name on the easy leader board first, then working your way up. It simply depends on how desperate or how important you feel it is to have your name appear on the world leaderboards or simply challenge your skill and scores with friends.


At first glance I certainly didn’t see Pistol Whip as an energetic title, after all, you’re essentially stationary, just moving your arms around shooting bad guys right? Well, almost, but there’s a little more to it than that. 

Apart from breaking into the obvious mild sweat and striking the cat several times with my controllers, the hidden workout you get is not immediately apparent. Let me explain... an integral part of the game, aside from the shooting, is to pivot to avoid the odd pillar and crouch to duck under inconveniently placed, bridge-like obstacles, not to mention ducking and leaning to dodge those incoming bullets. All of this I guess was deemed necessary by the developer and purposely included to offer a more challenging gaming experience, and yes, it was great fun, but I was blissfully unaware of the repercussions of my gameplay until the next day.

Remember, this was my first time playing Pistol Whip and I’m no fitness freak, the closest I get to doing anything energetic is propping myself up at a bar lifting pints. It was quite late, so I only played for about 40 minutes and crashed soon after.

The next morning, OMG! As soon as I stepped out of bed I could barely move my legs and walking was painful. My thighs and buttocks were sore and literally ached to the bone. I didn’t realise how out of shape I was until I played this game… no! Hang on! I did, so I should’ve known better, although I didn’t know Pistol Whip was an extreme workout shooter. :-)

Newbies or first time players of this game, my advice (and you’ll thank me in the morning - you’re welcome), is before you play Pistol Whip, biff the cat out of the room, unless you’re accustomed to having blood streaming down your face. Get some good pre-warm stretching in to rubberise yourself. First, pull those legs up behind you several times (one at a time, or you’ll fall over) to soften those thighs, then stand straight, bending over to touch your toes. I managed to touch my knees, but hey, short arms! For stringent measures, neck a few anti-inflammatory pills if you feel it's necessary, or like me fire back several pints. Helps with thinning the blood apparently. After that you should be good to go. Strap on your controllers and enjoy.

Strenuous workout


I loved Pistol Whip. Overall the game is incredibly satisfying and fun to play. The concept is unique and although it's not graphically stunning in any way, It serves its purpose adequately well for this type of game. Pistol Whip is utterly simple, with the gameplay being extremely addictive and insanely fun to play, especially if the goal is to get your name up on the world leaderboard.  It really made me feel like an action hero, somewhat resembling the hit action movie, John Wick.

A nice touch was the ability to customise your own pistols and there's plenty of additional settings that allow you to tailor the game to how you want to play, such as opting for dual pistols, enabling no fail, choosing to have infinite ammo and various other things, making it less or more challenging.

Customised pistols

It would’ve been nice to see a few more variations in level design, such as on top of a train or in a heavily wooded forest and maybe the additional custom soundtrack, but that’s just me being picky. Maybe that will come later in a DLC or possibly Pistol Whip 2, if they ever decide to make one.

Without a doubt, the primary feature of Pistol Whip’s gameplay is the finely tuned, heart-pounding sound tracks, featuring EDM artists from Kannibalen Records, including Apashe, HVDES, and Black Tiger Sex Machine. In case you're interested, I’ve provided a list of tracks from Kannibalen Records at the bottom of this page. HERE.

Pistol Whip is somewhat similar to SuperHot VR but is played at a much faster pace. Although graphically on a par regarding the simplistic blocky visuals, there's one major thing that sets the two games apart - longevity... SuperHot VR is quite the opposite when it comes to play speed, whereby the majority of gameplay is performed with slow movements, essentially keeping still to pause time whilst you plan and execute an attack. SuperHot is far from being a hard-core fast paced shooter and lacks the hip soundtracks offered by the latter, but has a much longer lifespan in regards to playability. Both different games, but equally as fun to play.

Pistol Whip and Super Hot VR

To summarise

Pistol Whip is great fun and shooting to the beat is damn right awesome, but it becomes quite repetitive after a while and it's not long before you get bored. The issue being the lack of content. More levels, enemies and a larger music library would improve it, to mention a few, however, it’s still early days and I understand that levels take time to build and music doesn’t come cheap. I’m also a lover of Beat Saber. If I ever had to choose between Pistol Whip and Beat Saber, irrespective of the price, I’d have to go for Pistol Whip, probably one of the best oculus games out there!

Pistol Whip Scoring Guide


  • A shot to the beat of the song = 100 pints
  • A shot to the beat and on target (based on accuracy / aim assist) = 200 points

Pistol Whip tips

In concept it is essential you get creative, making rhythms with your shots to the beat of the music, remembering that practice makes perfect.

Enemy Scores

There are only 3 types of enemy in Pistol Whip. It's a shame there’s not more

The Suits - 1 shot kill, providing a maximum of 200 points

Armored Vesties - 2 shot kill, maximum of 400 points

Helmeted Vesties - 4 shot kill, maximum of 800 points

Enemy scores

For other methods of increasing your score and making changes to your gameplay, open up the Modifiers menu and have a play around with the various settings to see how they affect your score.

Pistol Whips

I’m sure most know that a pistol whip is a clout across the head with the butt of a gun, after all, the game was appropriately named Pistol Whip for that specific reason. Pulling off a whip is not easy, firstly you need to be sober! I quickly found that out. You also need to be fully switched on and 100% focused.

Here’s how to execute the perfect whip. Timing is crucial here. Wait for the enemy in front of you to shoot at you, dodge the bullet, taking him out with a swift whack across the face before he reloads and tries to shoot you again. It takes a little bit of practice. Best performed when there are a limited amount of enemies on the screen at any given time. I suggest a few test runs on easy mode to get the feel of it.

The other important part of the pistol whip is the speed at which you do it. The slower you execute the move, the less points you receive. The faster the whip, the more points. Points also vary based on the enemy you whip. For example; If you happen to pistol whip a 4-shot-enemy (guy wearing the crash helmet) at full velocity, you’ll receive a whopping 800 points. However if you’ve already fired some lead into the enemy, say 2 shots, then slapped him, you’ll only get half the points, 400.

Points aside, the other added benefit of pistol whipping is that your gun is automatically reloaded and your health is fully restored.

Settings and Tips

Aim Assist

Aim assist is always on by default. You won’t find the option anywhere in any menu. Aim assist is a predefined setting, embedded into the core game mechanics. It’s ideal for newbee players who just want a little fun without too much of a challenge. Aim-Assist helps in that it measures your distance to the enemy and scores you based on how close you were to that enemy when they are shot. For gamers who consider themselves as pro-marksmen I recommend selecting "Modifiers", found in the Settings to the left, within the foyer area. There is an option called “Deadeye”. By selecting “Deadeye” you’re essentially turning off Aim Assist (the default). Turn this off and the game gets a whole lot harder. There’s nothing more immersive or makes you feel more like an unstoppable assassin than landing shots and knowing it’s all you.

Settings - Deadeye

Metronome (haptic feedback)

Metronome is the best way to experience the game in its full glory. When enabled the controllers will vibrate along with the music adding to the immersion. More importantly! it helps to assit you with the timing of your shots to the beat of the music through your controllers, as they vibrate. Metronome is enabled from within the Settings, selecting Game Settings, Haptics FX and selecting the option Metronome. As mentioned previously, If you fire a shot perfectly on the beat, you'll get 100 points for timing, if you're off-beat you'll be penalised, depending on how far off you were.

Got any gaming tips?

Feel free to add your own comments and any other feedback in the comments section below...

Be the next John Wick and don’t miss a beat”.

Pistol Whip Soundtracks

Full throttle


The High Priestess

Black Magic

The Grape feat. Gabriella Hook - Original Mix

R U Afraid


Lilith - Sullivan King Remix

Download the Future

The Fall

Death feat. Lektrique


Did you know, Pistol Whip is listed in our review: Best Oculus Quest Games.

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