Lock, Stock & 2 smoking Move controllers…
PlayStation VR Worlds had a few interesting minigames in it, but none more engrossing than the excellent “London Heist” story. Designed as more of a tech demo, the quick and easy tale was as immersive as it was impressive. Cut to 2 and a bit years later, and Sony London Studios have given us a “love letter” to The London Heist in the form of Blood & Truth. A clearly higher budget and some Hollywood stars are welcome additions, but does this warrant a place in your VR library?
Your role in this game is that of Ryan Marks, a soldier with a bit of a dodgy past, and a family with even more so. The narrative is told through a combination of present day scenes, flashbacks and interviews with a CIA agent across a table, as he tries to convince you to join up with him to take down a major criminal organisation that the Marks family has become embroiled in. It’s fairly standard stuff, and it sees you mowing down hordes of enemies with enough cockney accents to make Guy Ritchie blush. It trundles along at a fairly nice pace, and by the time the end credits roll, it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s outstayed its welcome, even if it’s not reinventing the wheel. There’s just something about a VR game that gets you a bit more invested in it, though. There were plenty of moments where, when a character was asking me a question, I found myself shaking my head, or forcing myself to look them in the eyes to show I was engaged. It’s hard to describe it, but the full immersion in the world makes something that would potentially seem silly as a normal game all the more impressive.
In terms of gameplay, the first thing to note about Blood & Truth is that there’s no free movement. You look around the environment and hit the Move button on your controller to walk up to the relevant waypoints, then undertake a series of tasks. These are, admittedly, mostly shooting dudes with a variety of weapons, ducking behind cover and moving on to the next waypoint. However, there’s a few other actions that will be required as well, whether it’s picking locks, snipping wires in (relatively simple) electronic puzzles, or planting bombs to go off at your beck and call. It’s not stretching the limits of what you can do in VR, and there are arguably games that have done each element better individually, but when it’s all brought together in Blood & Truth, it all works really well. There are some more of the vehicular shootouts that made The London Heist as memorable as it was, and some well thought out inclusions of stealth mechanics (well, silenced pistols) that make some of the more “busy” sections a lot easier if you take the soft approach to start with.
There’s enough cockney accents on display to make Guy Ritchie blush
Of course, it wouldn’t be a decent VR game without some gimmicks and “Whoah” moments. For me, the biggest and most terrifying moment came when Ryan decides he wants to give parachuting a go, without too much telegraphing to the player. I genuinely froze up as I found myself hurtling toward a waypoint that I thought I was going to stand on, only to leap off it, hundreds of metres in the air and hurtling toward the ground for a few seconds. Mere moments before, I’d found myself looking at an impressively rendered London skyline, and suddenly I thought I was going to die. Except I wasn’t, I was sat in my games room with a headset on, probably looking like a bit of a twat. There’s another scene that takes place in an art gallery, which uses some truly impressive tech, even though a lot of it is undeniably gimmicky. Some excellent use of perspective gives you something that you’d struggle to get in a standard game, while one section sees the environment reacting to your hand movements with light and sound that had me thinking back to Rez Infinite, and wanting a sequel to that even more than ever.
Moving away from fancy segments, on the whole Blood & Truth is really enjoyable. There were a few hiccups where the game wouldn’t recognise that I was putting my hand on my chest to get some more ammo (although slamming the clips into the guns does feel immensely satisfying the other 99% of the time when it worked), and the tracking on the Move controllers crapped out at the worst possible moment for me (swinging across some scaffolding in an abandoned construction site), but in general, it all seemed to be fairly smooth. I also suspect that the latter of these problems was due to sitting quite close to the camera.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously, either. What other game could give you trophies for “flipping off a character before shooting them”, and “shooting someone in the balls”? It’s a dark sense of humour that runs throughout Blood & Truth, and it definitely appealed to me as I got further into the game. If you’re into your collectibles, there’s enough here to warrant a couple of playthroughs (or one incredibly thorough one if you’re meticulous), and some of them do indeed hark back to the PSVR Worlds demo that came with the headset.