Welcome to the circus
If you’ve been to a Disney park recently, you’ve probably played Toy Story Mania. Well, you would have if you felt like waiting in the hours-long line, but even if you do it just once, it’s worth it. Think Tilt-A-Whirl meets shooting gallery video game and you’ll have some idea of how it plays — sounds cool, right?
That’s basically what Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is, which is surprisingly more justified in its existence than I thought it would be.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (PS4 [Reviewed with PSVR])
Developer: Supermassive Games
Released: October 13, 2016
When the news first broke of this project, I couldn’t contain my eye-rolling, but man, after actually playing it, I’m convinced Supermassive Games and Sony knew what they were doing. This is a great use of the license in that it doesn’t feel overly cloying or predatory of Until Dawn fans. There’s references, sure, but it’s mostly a standalone joint that does its own thing.
That’s partially because it takes the fractured psyche thing and rolls with it. Framed around a mental asylum, the settings have free reign to do whatever they want, but most of them employ some form of a carnival theme to help facilitate the on-rails sensation. Mind, this is in a literal sense as each level is a roller coaster, which makes for some fun, hokey moments like trying to shoot targets while plunging down a drop.
As yet another “better with Move” bit of VR, this one means it. Each wand controls a gun, both of which you can reload and fire simultaneously. Good luck trying to wrap your brain around aiming at two different sections of the screen at once, which provides a new challenge that you can’t really replicate with a standard controller.
That’s not an overstatement, as the guns double as flashlights that you can use to illuminate darkened areas and discover new things to shoot, creating a sort of metagame around discovery. While Rush isn’t overtly built around jump-scares, it has them, and they are of course more effective with a sensory deprivation chamber clamped around your head.
Several other VR games are content with presenting themselves as tech demos you won’t play again, but Rush of Blood embraces its arcade nature with score-attack challenges, collectibles, and secrets. It was like playing Revolution X all over again (please remake this, somebody), and with seven levels and four difficulty settings, I’ll be mastering this one for a long while.
If I had just seen Until Dawn: Rush of Blood sitting on a retail shelf, I would have skipped it. It sounds like a cash-in of the highest caliber, but the folks over at Supermassive managed to balance their IP and show restraint in a way that very few developers are capable of.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]