Okay, I admit it. I’m a complete mark for this sort of thing. Picking up a PSVR headset is always going to come with a bit of buyer’s guilt and to asway that, I want the VR trickery to shoved into my face like 3D lo-mein. The time for huge interactive experiences will come but for now, I just want the highlights and, believe me, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is the highlight.
Tied loosely into the same world as the epic survival horror title Until Dawn, this is an on-rails shooter. Essentially a light gun game viewed from prime position on the world’s most terrifying roller coaster, the game is all about hurtling you through a world that wants to scare the shit out of you.
Now, for context let me say this. You take me to a fairground and I’ll get on all the rides but I really don’t want to. I’ll scream, shout and generally whimper. But if you’re prepared to throw all your cool points away and just submit to these things, that’s where you get the most fun. So, if you’re looking at this review via Metacritic and are wondering why the reviews at the bottom didn’t like it, it’s because they’re just too serious, a little too cool for school. Fuck those guys and strap in.
Rush of Blood is a short game. You’ll be done in an hour or so and then will be replaying it to improve score or clean up the collectibles. It may burn out quickly but it certainly burns brightly. The sense of ‘being there’ was tangible right from the off and while your only interaction with the game is to shoot things, the controls feel so satisfying that it really is unlike any light gun game I’ve ever seen.
Playable with either the Dualshock or the dual Move controllers though it is, you’ve got to play this with the Move controllers to get the most out of it. Once activated, the controllers show up on the screen as pistols. They also double as torches too meaning you’ll be scanning the dark corners of the screen and firing wildly when something scary jumps out at you. Eventually you’ll remember all those FBI raid scenes from movies and you’ll be smartly covering the angles and watching your reloads like a pro, making sure you don’t get caught out.
Of course, the game will sometimes decide that it’s time to lose the lights or attack from unexpected angles. The scares are cheap but legit. Things jump out at you a lot. It’s an oft-repeated trick, at odds with the psychological horror of the original Until Dawn, but here it works perfectly. The game works with the tech perfectly putting the scariest things next to your face as they scream at you. Get those earphones in too because the 360 degree sound works an absolute treat here.
I want to tell you more about your journey in the game but with a game as short as this, I don’t want to spoil anything. Suffice to say that if you’ve got an irrational fear, Rush of Blood will likely find it but more than that, it also impresses. You see, back in the day, if you could fill up a screen with a sprite (what we used to call characters before 3D engines) that was impressive as hell. Well now in VR, giant things stand over you and the sense of scale is ridiculous.
That said, this is still just a shooting gallery of sorts and so it definitely has a chance of not appealing to you but if you’re interested, I can tell you that the controls are sweet, the levels are packed full of things to see and ultimately this is why a lot of people bought PSVR. The only real criticisms are from some slightly bullshit boss battles (you’ll be replaying them a bit while you learn the patterns, which dates things a little) but these are mostly forgivable.
I’d love to have seen some Point Blank (but fucked up) mini-games to pad things out and, yes, the length is a concern that will bother some people but I find it hard to care. Sit down, strap in and prepare for the ride of your life. You’ll never feel as bad ass and as vulnerable at the same time ever again.