Blood & Truth

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: London Studios
Release Date: May 28, 2019


PS4 VR Review - 'Blood & Truth'

by Cody Medellin on May 28, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Blood & Truth is a PSVR action thriller that takes place in modern day London against the city’s backdrop of glamour and grit, making it the perfect location for a criminal underworld to inhabit.

Buy Blood & Truth

Of all of the different games in the PlayStation VR Worlds package released around the time of the peripheral's debut, it was The London Heist that captured people's attention the most. Played up as a modern British crime film, the game featured a good mix of first-person cut scenes and some good shoot-outs with semi-intelligent targets. It was a good blueprint for how to translate a typical on-rails shooting experience into VR, but no one seems to have taken it up, as we've seen more shooting galleries and semi-free-form shooters in VR instead. Fast-forward about two years, and the same team responsible for The London Heist is back with a full-fledged and distinct experience in Blood & Truth.

You play the role of Ryan Marks, a man who finds himself in a broken-down warehouse with someone who might be a CIA agent. Throughout his interrogation, you find out that Marks is a British Special Forces soldier who, after a rescue mission, found out that his father had died of a heart attack. Returning home to London, you also learn that your father is a notorious British gangster whose business is still up and running. The day of the funeral, a pair of rival gangsters has come in for a semi-hostile takeover. Once you make your escape, you and your family come together to plan your revenge on someone who chose an inopportune time to muscle in on your family's business.

If you've played The London Heist on PlayStation VR Worlds, then you know what to expect from the gameplay, which can be split up into two main segment types. The first type you'll encounter is semi-interactive cut scenes, where you'll see everything from a first-person viewpoint. It's semi-interactive since you won't do too much during these segments. Interactivity is limited, but you can cycle through hand gestures, so you can throw up the horns while getting shocked or flip off your interrogator.

Outside of the cut scenes, players can mess around with the game. Go to your hideout, and you can examine a slot machine and a few trinkets, and you can modify and paint the firearms that you find throughout the game. Some missions also have interactive elements, like the ability to throw crumpled-up paper into a wastebasket hoop. You can also grab a few random things, like bottles, to toss. Just don't expect to spend most of your time flipping things over and making a general mess.

Once you're on a mission, you'll find plenty of things to do that don't involve shooting. Moving from point to point is rather easy, as you simply have to look at the spot you want and hit a button, making for a less cumbersome movement system compared to other VR games. Climbing ladders or moving on ledges means grabbing your side or a rung above you to perform that action. The same goes with moving via air ducts. You can mess with essential parts of the environment, like pressing buttons for elevators or reaching forward to turn doorknobs. Picking locks becomes a two-handed affair, and setting up C4 means having to physically place the block on a spot, placing the detonator on the C4, and then pressing the button for activation. Those are just small examples of some of the non-shooting you'll be doing, but they go a long way to show off how interactive Blood & Truth wants to be.

Of course, the game really wants you shooting at people. It'll take some time to get used to shooting accurately, since the Move controller is rather light, sometimes making you point your gun at a downward slant, but the title is generous when it comes to body hit boxes, so you aren't going to miss too many shots unless you're always aiming for the head. There are plenty of barrels and fire extinguishers around, so explosive kills can be constant. You can die, but the ability to duck into cover at any time makes this feel similar to Time Crisis — minus the timer. Ammo is also generous, as there always seems to be enough around so you won't run out of it, and while the act of reloading means you'll constantly be placing your hand on your chest and then on your virtual gun, the lack of precision needed for the task means that you won't be fumbling to load while you're in the middle of a firefight or in the process of running and gunning.

With these things combined, Blood & Truth makes the case for VR being a new home for the evolved light gun shooter. We've seen man-to-man shootouts before, but the ability to move around at your own pace and throw grenades makes it feel more involved. We've seen vehicular shootouts as well, but the ability to look around is up to you instead of the game. Aside from a lack of melee attacks, the game does everything to make you feel like an action hero, and that accomplishment is good enough for what some consider to be a "simple" genre.

If there's one thing that is surprising about the game, it would be its length. The game is spread out among 19 chapters, with a decent mix of gameplay and cut scenes. For the initial playthrough, that's about seven hours of campaign time, and even though that may sound short, an average VR title clocks in at about half that time, at best. Seeing developers start to target longer game experiences is encouraging for those who want VR games to be more than bite-sized experiences. In addition to the campaign and the ability to replay stages for high scores and secrets, the developers are planning to add more things via patches, such as a harder difficulty mode, new challenge modes, and a new game plus mode, giving the title some real replayability.

However, if you're susceptible to motion sickness or you haven't gotten used to VR yet, Blood & Truth will push you. There are more than a few vehicle sequences where standing up feels unnatural but sitting down affects you due to the smooth movements at a pretty fast pace. The same goes for the point-to-point movement, as you move from spot to spot instead of simply warping there. Although the title has a comfort mode to darken the peripherals while moving so you have something to focus on, it might not be enough to prevent some people from getting nauseous. The frame rate is decent enough to prevent the experience from being impossible to play, but unless you're experienced enough, expect to play and beat the title over several short gameplay session bursts.

The presentation is notable for bucking some common VR trends. The game goes for more realistic human models instead of stylized ones, and while the animations are quite nice, their level of detail is held back by the limitations of the headset, since the screen isn't clear enough to discern wrinkles and furled brows. The detail and the texture work are good in some environments, and while there aren't a lot of particle effects, there are enough to make everything look modern. On the sound front, the music is a good mix of popular mainstream British dance and rap and a few tracks appropriate for action movies, but there are times when the music doesn't fit the situation very well. On the other hand, the voice work is excellent, with each performance driving the idea of this being a well-acted British gangster film.

Blood & Truth ends up being a strong title that adds more value to the PSVR platform. It may just be an evolution of the light gun game, but the immersion and action movie sensibilities coupled with a better-than-expected story for the genre does wonders as far as making it stand out among other VR titles. Provided you can handle the bouts of motion sickness, Blood & Truth is a VR game that's worth experiencing.

Score: 8.0/10

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