Cold Iron boldly steps onto PSVR as the first VR puzzle shooter and it mostly succeeds despite a few bumps.
Using just one Move controller, Cold Iron starts off gently by introducing the main mechanic behind the game – the duel. A slow heartbeat fills your ears; the controller rhythmically vibrates until…ding… the bell chimes, signaling you to draw. The fastest gun wins. You need to repeat this process numerous times until the demonic Cold Iron is awoken and your next successful bullet vanquishes the varmint once and for all.
It’s not just speed of drawing, you actually need to aim – there are even bonus points for capping your opponent with a ‘bullseye’ shot. Quick drawing might sound easy but soon multiple and moving targets are introduced where the final target is only revealed as the bell chimes. This can really test your reflexes and your ability to quickly puzzle solve. The puzzles, while never too complicated, don’t always have an obvious solution, which does make for some trial and error.
The real fun of Cold Iron is by playing properly. Pretend to holster your Move controller by your side and draw like you’re in a proper showdown. You can merely just holster your weapon with the controller next to your face for an easy flick to kill, but that’s cheating and this is the Wild West. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Holding the controller feels great and the VR revolver in your hands is convincing, if a little plain for a demonic weapon. I expected some kind of ornate design or a sinister voice calling for blood. Instead, it’s the narrator that seems to call out to you. This gruff voiced narrator tells the story expertly with a solid performance.
The narrative while intriguing, never really explains why you suddenly appear in a forest, or in the future squaring off against a sniper, a mercenary who hides in the shadows and… wait for it… a large tank. It’s all very odd and juxtaposed, which culminates in a final duel that is infuriatingly difficult.
These final duels are irritating as hell, the speed you need to draw is insane and the final boss battle, which at least brings back a puzzle element, also demands a similar need for speed, the frustration at not being able to pull off fast draws ultimately proved too much for me. Cold Iron also suffers from some rather jagged lines in both the stylised neon illustrations that float in front of you during the cutscenes and in the details of landscapes and the features of your enemies – adding an additional level of frustration. Underneath is a brilliant game mechanic trying to break out.
With only 11 fights interspersed with melon shooting bonus rounds, Cold Iron is rather short – which is a shame because the dynamics of puzzle shooting are barely given the chance to establish themselves. This is particularly frustrating because there are some fantastic ideas and I wanted more. More puzzles. More scenarios and more reasons as to why Cold Iron was driving me on through each duel.
Cold Iron throws in 16 challenges to beat, most of which are completed for beating your opponents with specific ranks, awarding you with bronze, silver or gold. There’s certainly plenty to aim for in Cold Iron. I managed to get most of the statues the first time through the game, so other than the joy of shooting a revolver at the mini game melon shooting bonus levels, pretending to have a showdown at sunset, or besting my statue award, I found little reason to return to Cold Iron.
I really enjoyed the puzzle element of Cold Iron and the shooting was tight, particularly in the bonus rounds, but the lack of levels and the reliance on speed for the final duels ultimately led me down the path of frustration. Cold Iron may be the first PSVR puzzle shooter; I hope it’s not the last.