If there is one thing that VR is good for it is putting you in a different world doing things that you normally could not get to do in real life and that is something that Cold Iron is aiming to do. Pun totally intended. For those who have missed the memo over the last stretch of time, this is Catch & Release's latest title for the PS VR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift. It is claimed to be a mix of Cuphead, Red Dead Redemption, and The Dark Tower all wrapped into one VR experience. It has just dropped, but we had a chance to give Cold Iron a playthrough beforehand. Here is our review of just how the game holds up and fits into the niches that have been used to describe it.
Some dirty varmints have gunned down your father for having something they all want. Even though they killed your pop, they were never able to find the item. That is because you have it and are now on a quest to dish out some revenge as well as destroy this demonic gun that has everyone killing each other for. Will you be able to deal out some death to those who gunned down your pops and get rid of it all? That is for you to find out when you take up the mantle and the gun.
To start things off here for Cold Iron, we will have to go into how repetitive the whole game feels and plays. For a title that states that we will be getting some form of puzzle elements mixed into it all, I never really found a true puzzle mixed in. Sure, each of the bosses for the few chapters had a few extra quirks mixed into them, but nothing on the level of a puzzle to know that you should not shoot because on whistled or that you should follow the sniper's laser scope to see where to place a bullet. It all boiled down to a very basic "quick draw" style of game with what were thought as puzzles were more or less extra challenges that added to the frustration of the whole game. While the bosses became a bit wilier in Cold Iron you did not and were more or less penalized for that in the guise of it being puzzles.
To add to that frustration, Cold Iron was not forgiving at all with using the basic mechanics and controller scheme of the game. It has been recommended to "shoot from the hip" and not aim, even though there are extras for getting headshots, but none of that made anything easier or even fun at the end of the day. I tried playing it as a real gunslinger and found myself being shot down quickly each time; even on the earlier and easier stages. I had to resort to "fooling" the PS Move controller into thinking I had my gun holstered while it was still aimed at the enemy so all it took was a flick of the wrist to get a killing shot off. At one point in my playthrough of Cold Iron, this was the only way to progress as the enemies would move faster and shooting from the hip always resulted in a wild shot going off nowhere near where the gun was aimed at. This is a flaw in the game and not one of those "get good" kind of issues as we had with Cuphead. A title I am still not sure how it mixes in…
Last up, Cold Iron is ridiculously short for the current asking price of the game. After using the aiming trick, I was able to get through the core of the game in about an hour and then there was little left outside of trophy/achievement hunting. Even then, there was no real want to go back and repeat the same three duels per chapter in Cold Iron. Especially since the bulk of the time playing the first time around was repeating the entire chapter when the boss killed me due to the guise of a puzzle thing. This feels more like a skeleton of a game that needed to have more to flesh the experience out with.
One of the things that Catch & Release got perfectly right, in my opinion, had to be the voice acting and dialog of the story. From the very beginning of the Cold Iron to the last time you hear the narrator's voice, it has that Old Western feel to it all. Just the right thing that is needed to keep us in this different reality even when there are instances where you are transported through space and time. I will not go into that as that is a bit of a spoiler already. The constant of the voice work was completely spot on though and the team truly deserves credit there. It did exactly what a great VR title should do and feel.
Building off that, the level/world designed for Cold Iron also get a bit of credit here too. They are not the most photorealistic of levels, that is not what they were going for, but they are larger and more detailed than needed for a quick draw style of game. They were a bit underused and had me looking around for more as they were all just setpieces as I could see, but they were definitely detailed out to the point where there could have been more. Even the loading area was well put together and had interaction besides the main menu. You can tell that there was some time and effort put in there to help transport you from your gaming area into the different world(s) of Cold Iron.
Is Cold Iron a game to rant and rave about and tell everyone they need to pick up? In its current state, no. More so given that $20 USD price point out of the gate. Can it be an engaging baby step into the world of VR? Sure it can. It is basic enough on the control side of things for players to get into it all, but nothing that will keep them coming back for more. Maybe after the price drops just a bit or if more content is added to the game I can give my full recommendation, but for now I can only suggest Cold Iron if you have a hole burning in your wallet, need to fill out the VR libraries, and want to have a good starter game for people to give a go at. I think most other gamers will just be letdown.
I give Cold Iron 3 Watermelons on the Watermelons scale.
Cold Iron — Launch Trailer
Cold Iron was developed and published by Catch & Release for the PS VR, and PC with Oculus Rift or HTC Vive on January 30th, 2018. A PSVR copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.