Last year’s Until Dawn was a pleasant surprise. It turned the teen slasher horror movie genre into an interactive experience with an impressive amount of character and narrative development. Rush of Blood drops most of those elements (character and story) in order to focus on something almost entirely different for this virtual reality experience: on-rails shooting. Rush of Blood’s overlap with the source material is questionable, but the gameplay is fun, and it's a good showcase for PlayStation VR.
In Rush of Blood, you sit in a roller-coaster car with a pair of guns as it moves through seven different tracks. Some take place in familiar locations from Until Dawn, some take place in more abstract locations, but most of them make their way through caves along minecart tracks. Targets are everywhere, and hitting them without missing keeps your multiplier topped off. Things get a little trickier when enemies start showing up, and affords lots of opportunities for intense surprises and jump-scare moments. I particularly enjoyed the final level which veers the farthest into the world of the strange.
Playing with a DualShock 4 controller is an option, but playing with two Motion controllers is more fun and effective. Aiming and shooting feels solid and I rarely missed a shot. The guns’ consistent accuracy, unfortunately, does involve a little bit of luck. I didn’t have to recalibrate often, but uncontrollable factors (like the lighting in your room) can affect your camera’s ability to pick up the motion controllers. Actions like holding two guns in opposite directions and quickly looking back and forth to take on attackers from all angles is an empowering experience.
Virtual reality, in general, has not made me feel nauseated, but some of the more intense roller-coaster moments did make my stomach turn in Rush of Blood. Rather than get excited about oncoming hills, I quickly learned to dread them and even resorted to closing my eyes during the steeper declines. This aspect of the game will be different for all players, but thankfully it uses this admittedly intense mechanic sparingly if you happen to react to it as I did.
Rather than continue the story of Until Dawn, or expand it in a substantial way, Rush of Blood borrows the creepy, something-bad-around-every-corner tone. The player, who has no personality beyond the visual appearance of their arms and legs, appears to be visiting some sort of therapist who suddenly turns into a carnival proprietor and serves as your tour guide through the assorted horrific roller-coaster tracks. What’s real and what’s in your imagination is unclear, which fits the mysterious tone of Until Dawn and makes everything all the more strange. Siblings Hannah, Beth, and Josh Washington are mentioned in passing, but I didn’t learn anything new about them by the time I made it to the end. Even though the story isn’t the main focus, I still appreciated it, as well as each of the carnival proprietor’s prologues and the actor’s performance.
Rush of Blood is straightforward in its execution. It’s a simple action game that feels like an evolution of the light-gun shooter, but in this early age of virtual reality, it’s the right call. Pointing and shooting at scary things on a fun-house roller-coaster might not seem like the right direction for Until Dawn’s character-focused storytelling, but for PlayStation VR, it’s one of the best ways to get your feet wet, even if it doesn’t do anything bold or particularly innovative in the world of game design.
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