It’s time for the PlayStation VR titles to land, and the launch lineup has a good range of genres to present to new players.
One of the marquee releases comes from Sony-exclusive developer Supermassive Games. They recently created the rather excellent Until Dawn and expand on that property with Rush of Blood.
Until Dawn was a surprisingly thoughtful take on b-movie horror with a wonderfully dense branching narrative about a bunch of teens at a cabin in the middle of nowhere.
Rush of Blood pretty much throws all of that out of the window to become an on the rails shoot ‘em up. And that’s no bad thing, though it’s a bit of a waste of the license as it could have been called just about anything.
Apart from that odd blip, Rush of Blood is a bloody marvellous entry point into the world of VR, precisely because it’s so simple. This is basically a lightgun game with a new perspective, and the very act of using the motion controllers as dual guns is so simple that it really shows off the potential accessibility of the PSVR system.
It doesn’t hurt that the game itself is fun as all hell, as you mount a rollercoaster to ride through increasingly hellish levels, gunning down scary creatures as you go.
While it’s possible to play with the regular DualShock 4 controller you’re really missing a trick by not having two Motion sticks in this game. They’re picked up perfectly by the PSVR system to control your guns on screen, letting you shoot accurately and reload with a powerful flourish.
Mechanically it’s all about scanning the areas and shooting things that either look like they’ll kill you or have little targets on them. Both keep up your multiplier which increases your score together with accuracy at the end of the level.
Starting out with airguns and carnival-style games, it isn’t long before things get pretty sinister, and even more than a little terrifying. You’ll graduate to larger weapons which you can use for a limited time by shooting them. The shotgun is a favourite but there are machine guns and larger pistols which all make short work of enemies.
On the scary side I’ve seen people genuinely unnerved by Rush of Blood but horror fans will find it fairly light on really freaksome moments. Sure there are jump scares that get right in your face but they’re heavily telegraphed and you can always shut your eyes, and maybe turn down the volume, if things are getting a little too intense.
On that subject, I definitely felt the odd touch of nausea when playing this game, especially during the moments that went full rollercoaster. I’d highly recommend those who are prone to motion sickness to take regular breaks, even as often as every 15 minutes or so, and certainly between levels.
Rush of Blood really nails the intense shooting and gains points for giving you two guns and plenty to pelt with lead. You get to use some lean and ducking motions to get around obstacles on the track and there are collectibles in the environment which you can keep a beady eye open for.
On the downside the pacing sometimes isn’t the best. The more over the top shoot outs tend to be quite short, with long stretches with little or nothing to shoot. Considering that’s the only thing you can do in the game, it’s a bit disappointing.
Otherwise of the use of the Until Dawn name remains a bit irksome as there’s nothing to match that excellent, involving narrative here. The references are few and far between and not all that interesting.
Still this fast paced shooter is a great entry point for VR newbies and it hasn’t failed to raise a smile from anyone I’ve shown it to. The short levels are ideal for jumping into for a quick session and if the total running time is a rather short two hours it hardly matters if all you’re looking for is some all out pew pew action.