Blood & Truth may just be the killer app PlayStation VR has been waiting for
Blood & Truth is the game that PlayStation VR needed from day one. Sony’s VR headset had a healthy launch, and a great selection of interesting games, but this is what the platform has been waiting for.
It’s telling that it’s come from the minds behind PlayStation VR Worlds’ The Heist, one of the best PlayStation VR experiences available on launch. In some respects, this is a spiritual sequel to The Heist’s wonderful take on London gangster films of the late 90s and early 2000s. This time, London Studio has aimed for the heady heights of Hollywood blockbuster action movies, incorporating the flair of John Wick with the against-all-odds Die Hard setting mixed with the gritty nature of Lock Stock or Eastern Promises.
Blood & Truth is all about making you feel like the star but also making you feel like an absolute bad-ass in the process. It’s about suspending disbelief in the same way you do when watching an action film, while also grounding the experience enough in reality that your actions do still hold weight. Combine that with the development talent that London Studio is known for in its past titles like The Getaway; along with its love of exploring new mediums like EyeToy, PlayStation Move and the Singstar franchise, and you’ve got one slickly made VR game with intuitive gameplay at its core.
From a story perspective, it’s a little tricky to really judge from the snippet I played just how well put together it’ll be. The general premise is that you play as Ryan, a SAS soldier who has returned to London in order to protect his family from a big-time player in the British gangster scene. This involves you going on a bit of a rampage to protect your own blood and deliver a message to London’s underbelly that you’re not to be messed with. It’s literally the stuff of a Taken or John Wick-esque action film.
The slice I played formed a half of one level, placing me at a point part way through the game’s story. It’s here I start down the side alley of a gritty London casino. It’s my task to bust my way inside, rig it up with C4 and track down the mug who’s threatening my family. Needless to say, it all goes awry and, after a hefty body count and a lot of spent bullets, concludes with me jumping out of a window under a hail of bullets.
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You’re not some sort of passive observer on this journey either, you’re the one making the decisions and helping shape the story. In the C4 section, I had free reign to place the explosives as I pleased so long as they were evenly spread out. I could have played the first half of the section rather stealthily if I liked, or gone in all guns blazing. As it happens, I got spotted while planting C4 and it all went to hell, but that also worked perfectly fine for me.
A later section in the demo, after running down a corridor in an on-rails action-filled pursuit complete with slow-motion gunfights and explosions aplenty, gives you brutal conversation choices. You can either go easy on the guy or give him a hard time by firing off swear-filled threats. You can also, as I did, shoot him in the leg to show him you mean business. You could have fired a shot off next to him instead, making him flinch and cower, or shoot him in the arm, hand or foot – the choice is up to you.
This is a completely interactive, fully featured game that just happens to be in VR.
The bloody truth
I realise that proclaiming Blood & Truth to be the best PlayStation VR title yet is both not a massive endorsement and a slightly early verdict, but it’s a great game in its own right. London Studio has put an incredible amount of thought into every aspect of Blood & Truth and, just like The Heist, there’s a lot of tiny details here that really bring the world to life.
For instance, movement with the two move controllers is actually wonderfully simple. For the most part, it works on a waypoints system, rather than complete freedom of movement. This isn’t the same sort of teleportation you find in many other first-person VR games – instead you’ll run or walk over to set spots on the floor by looking at them and pressing the move button. In shootout sections you can strafe between cover by tapping the cross or circle buttons, meaning shooting and moving is actually really straightforward.
This limited movement structure isn’t simply because London Studio didn’t want to deal with a whole array of free movement issues on the Move controllers, it’s to make it easy and comfortable to play. It also ties into the story setting, a member of the SAS wouldn’t go stand in the middle of a firefight, they’d duck and move behind cover heading for strategic locations.
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Other small details are a delight too. The Move controllers rumble when you touch or pick up objects. You reload your gun by grabbing a clip from your hip and sliding it into the chamber of the gun’s hilt. This action alone makes you feel like you’re part of an action film. Planting C4 is also an interactive experience. Instead of simply pressing a button to plant it, you open a pouch, take the remote timer and attach it to the explosives before laying it on the surface you want to blow up. It’s involving and you can do it with one hand while firing off shots with the other – just like a badass action movie star would do.
It also helps that, even in this early form, it’s a really beautiful game to behold. It has the same stylised visuals present in The Heist but polished up to look gorgeous. The seedy alleyway had real character to it, the cobbles looked wet like it had just rained and the wheely bin wasn’t just a red Biffa bin – it had scuffs and scratches to it too. Even your rote goon has had time spent on it and more prominent characters have incredibly expressive faces. This extra layer of realism really helps you connect with the world and immerse yourself further.
It’s still far too early to really know how Blood & Truth will turn out, but from my short demo session, it’s evident that London Studio is building something truly phenomenal for PlayStation VR. Farpoint was supposed to be the big, heavy-hitting PlayStation VR title to take the medium forward, but it failed to really deliver to the high expectations people had for it. Blood & Truth, however, could well be the title that gives PlayStation VR the legitimacy it needs to boost the public’s interest in virtual reality gaming.