Paint the Town Red VR Review – Brutal Fun

Paint the Town Red is a game that was always practically screaming out for a VR port. South East Games’ first-person brawler lets you let off some steam and lay waste to blocky characters with a range of weapons, going through themed levels and even an arena mode. The 2023 announcement of a VR release on Meta Quest, PSVR2, and Steam VR opened up a world of possibility: taking that unrealistic but meaty combat and making it more immersive than ever. Fortunately, Paint the Town Red VR manages to make good on that promise, proving a perfect time-sink for VR gamers.

On the surface, Paint the Town Red VR is the base version of the game ported over very faithfully. The core stages are the centerpiece for those diving in for the first time: small zones packed with NPCs that are just waiting to turn hostile as soon as you throw a punch, stab them with a knife, or whack them with a chair. From an 80s-inflected disco to a bar packed with bikers, there’s enough enemy variety and challenge to require a few tries before completing them.

Gladiators fighting in the arena mode in Paint the Town Red VR.
Image Source: South East Games

There isn’t tons of replayability in those stages, mainly because there’s no significant progression other than sticking on modifiers or upping the difficulty. That’s why I found the arena mode to be the most exciting of all. Presented like a blocky version of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, you gradually work up a ladder of increasingly challenging encounters in a swords-and-sandals arena with a huge crowd watching on. Whether it’s defeating a range of aggrieved chefs, armed with butcher knives and frying pans, or dodging spikes to work alongside AI teammates to eliminate the other team, it’s incredibly engaging.

The longest levels in the arena mode barely take over two minutes, making it perfect if you’ve only got fleeting moments to spend in VR. Gradually working your way up the ladder and earning new medals to denote your current stage, is a really satisfying gameplay loop.

But it’s the roguelite Beneath mode that’ll no doubt be the crowning jewel of Paint the Town Red VR for many players. In a far more horrific twist on the regular gameplay, you prowl through underground caves and tight tunnels to battle demons, zombies, and angered spirits in the form of bosses.

Enemies running away from a shark in Paint the Town Red VR.
Image Source: South East Games

If you’re a fan of roguelites in general, Beneath will easily be the biggest timesink in Paint the Town Red VR. There are plenty of perks to equip and weapons you can slowly upgrade, starting with a makeshift crossbow and eventually wielding assault rifles. Those less enamored by the incremental gameplay style of roguelites won’t be won over, but there’s plenty elsewhere to keep you busy.

The biggest compliment I can give Paint the Town Red VR is that whenever I’ve got a spare 30 minutes, I want to pick it up and play. Whether it’s slashing through a few arena levels or laying waste to a crowd of angry drinkers at a bar, it’s so easy to dip into. Not only that, but it’s a surprisingly good workout as well. If you’ve had a long day and need to decompress, look no further.

4

Paint the Town Red VR

The biggest compliment I can give Paint the Town Red VR is that whenever I’ve got a spare 30 minutes, I want to pick it up and play. Whether it’s slashing through a few arena levels or laying waste to a crowd of angry drinkers at a bar, it’s so easy to dip into. Not only that, but it’s a surprisingly good workout as well. If you’ve had a long day and need to decompress, look no further.

Pros

  • Brutal and incredibly fun action
  • Plenty of game modes to sample
  • Good variety of weapons
  • Immersive VR porting

Cons

  • Beneath mode won’t win over roguelite sceptics
  • Lack of overall progression in the Stages mode

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on Meta Quest 3.

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