Until Dawn: Rush of Blood – The Mind of a Madman
Supermassive’s Until Dawn was a great homage to the classic campy teen slasher flicks that told a well-written tale about a bunch of teens, most of whom are bad people, as they survive the night against supernatural threats. Then with the launch of the Playstation VR headset Supermassive released an on-rails rollercoaster shooter called Rush of Blood, which tied directly into the story and world of Until Dawn. For a launch title Rush of Blood is incredibly fun and addicting, with an engaging, if somewhat loose plot. Beware major spoilers for Until Dawn in this review. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Rush of Blood takes place inside the mind of Josh, one of the teens in Until Dawn, sometime during the events of the original game. Josh is an extremely troubled individual, having lost his two sisters, Hannah and Beth, the year prior. To cope with this trauma Josh constructs the Psycho, an alter-ego that he uses to scare his former friends as his form of payback. He blames them for Hannah and Beth’s disappearance, believe it or not he’s partially right. Rush of Blood shows the player the inner working of his mind, where the fantastical meets the horrific. Josh has visualized his trauma as a theme park of horror, with killer clowns, giant spiders, and towards the end Wendigos. The player is also shown brief scenes of reality, with Josh’s therapy sessions, sessions that don’t seem too ethical. For the most part the plot takes a backseat to gameplay, but this style works well with the arcade shooter sensibilities.
The gameplay is on-rails shooting that uses either the Move wands or the Dualshock controller. The preferable way to play is with the Move wands as it gives you full control of both arms. In either hand the player has a gun, starting with a carnival peashooter then defaulting to dual handguns. Throughout the game the player is given access to more powerful weapons, such as sawed-off shotguns, an SMG, and flare guns. Levels are a mix of shooting props in the environment and a variety of enemies all capped off with a boss fight. These bosses are as basic as it can get, they have obvious weak points or an environment gimmick that is used to defeat them with waves of enemies thrown in to up the challenge. The game itself isn’t particularly difficult but some of the bosses attacks are cheap and hard to avoid, meaning that death is often the fault of an attack that isn’t too fair. Another issue is that the player’s standard weapons are all but useless as the game progresses. This is only an issue because the game doesn’t carry inventory over between levels, so starting with an under-powered arsenal is a bit of a chore. These are small issues when compared to what the game gets right. Aiming feels smooth, guns have the right amount of impact, and the game encourages the player to replay levels and try for a higher score. The visuals are pretty good for early VR, some objects look like cardboard if you really stare at them for a bit. With Playstation VR being the weakest of the three VR headsets things also have a little blur to them. But otherwise the game looks good, with settings consistent with Until Dawn that does provide some scares. Speaking of VR, motion sickness is a worry of many players when it comes to playing in virtual reality. With Rush of Blood there’s a very low risk of motion sickness, the reason being is that the player character is stationary, rather the cart the player is in goes along tracks. This makes Rush of Blood a highly accessible experience.
Rush of Blood is a great introduction to VR. With a fun gameplay loop, tight shooting, an interesting story, and high accessibility Rush of Blood delivers on all fronts. While there are minor quibbles they don’t detract from the overall experience. Rush of Blood is a solid title and highly recommendable to anyone looking to play VR. So let’s take a ride, they say it’s a killer.