Until Dawn: Rush of Blood Video Game Review

Written by Ryan Noble

Released by Sony Interactive Entertainment

Developed by Supermassive Games
2016, Rated 18 (UK), Mature (US)
Game released on 13 October 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (PSVR)

until dawn rush of blood ps3 cover

Review:

Ah, Until Dawn... The game that surprised everyone by living up to the lofty teen-slasher horror heights that we craved for. Not only was it an intense, narrative-driven experience with multiple endings, but it compiled a cast of characters that was easy to root for, and easy to hate, just like in slasher films. I finished the game in one weekend, reviewed it on my horror blog, and was immediately begging whoever would listen for a sequel. Supermassive Games listened, and along came Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, an on-rails shooter for PlayStation VR (PSVR). It's not quite the narrative-driven sequel everyone wanted, but I was pleasantly surprised after picking up PSVR and Rush of Blood at Christmas.

As mentioned above, Rush of Blood is an on-rails shooter that is honestly just creating its own separate experience for gamers, with occasional nods to the characters, settings and scares of the original game. If you can get over the fact that it is in no way a fully-fledged sequel, then there's fun to be had in the game's seven levels of first-person arcade-y rollercoaster shooting.

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Firstly, the game is playable only via PSVR, and players have two guns that can either be controlled with a DualShock controller or with a Move controller in each hand. For the full VR experience I was using two Move controllers, one for each gun, and it certainly made me feel incredibly cool. I may have even turned my gun sideways, like a gangster. Anyway, the aim of the game is to rack up the highest score possible as you're taken through themed levels of a rollercoaster, and points are gained by shooting a mixture of targets around the environment, collectibles in the form of giant baby heads, enemies and bosses - both of which I'll go into a little later.

By itself, the game itself isn't very scary at all, but it is fun, and I found the 2-3 hours worth of trippy target practice highly entertaining, likely as a result of the new platform on which I was experiencing it. While 2-3 hours may not sound very long, VR is an all-consuming platform that shouldn't be played for too long at a time (at least not at first), so I was more than happy with the shorter length, and the game's £15 ($20 USD) price tag is a fair one. I also played the entire game standing, to allow for easier movement and better visibility for the camera. Standing for a full 10-15 hours would have been scarier than the game itself.

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Click images to enlarge.

Thanks to the complete immersion that PSVR brings, Rush of Blood contains more tension and jump-scares than it otherwise would. In fact, even the title sequence made me jump. Everything can get right up into your face, whether you like it or not, from clowns and spiders to crows and wendigos, Until Dawn's surprise monsters. While there are some intense firefights where a number of these enemies, especially wendigos, swarmed my vision to tear me down, these encounters are never so much scary as they are fun and/or frantic. For me, the game's horror comes from its more thoughtful or downright twisted moments, of which I would have enjoyed more.

Within these more thoughtful moments are monologues from a surgeon that seem to be experimenting on you in a dark, bloody lab, played by the psychiatrist from the original game, along with numerous other nods to the game. For example, on multiple occasions the corpses of two recognisable girls appear, sometimes calling out for help and other times just silent. There is also a section where gigantic dolls stand behind a video camera, tying back into the events that kick off Until Dawn's dark narrative.

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On the other hand, the more twisted moments include trips through an abattoir with squealing pig carcasses and whirring buzz saws - which is significantly improved (or worsened, depending on how you feel about said carcasses and buzz saws) by the fact that Supermassive makes great use of the 360-degree sound – and being surrounded by mannequins that may or may not be about to burst into life. Some do. God, I hate mannequins. Too many of these over-the-top scares may have been overkill, but a few more throughout each level wouldn't have gone amiss, hidden in-between the shoot-outs.

There are a few other aspects to keep your attention between groups of enemies and targets, though, such as arrow signs that allow you to change the path you're hurtling down, bringing in a minor element of choice and replayability, similar to the original game. In addition to this, there are colourful crates dotted around the tracks at key moments with different weapons hidden inside. You'll find revolvers, shotguns, submachine guns and explosive flare guns, each with limited ammo, and these can be mixed and matched at your own leisure. My personal favourite mix is a double-barrelled shotgun in one hand, for anything that got too close – and a pistol or submachine gun in the other hand, for taking out multiple targets or collectables in the distance.

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Click images to enlarge.

Also keeping things interesting are the occasional boss fights. Sometimes these are smaller shoot-outs, trying to survive as the original antagonist stalks towards you with murder in his eyes, and others times it's a full-blown affair, such as the end-game boss, a multi-staged battle for your life. Unfortunately, in the case of the latter, it also feels completely out of place with the tone of the initial inspiration. As one of the lower points, it's a shame that this closed out my time with Rush of Blood.

Other than the fact that there could be more horror elements for a spin-off from a horror game, Rush of Blood's visual quality isn't all that. Beyond a certain distance, the quality of enemies and environments can become somewhat fuzzy. However, based on what I've seen of PSVR so far, I believe that this is currently a limitation of the platform rather than the game itself. In time, as developers begin to uncover the full potential of the technology, I'm sure that this will only improve. Again, due to the increased immersion that VR brings to the experience, visuals feel secondary to sound and shooting.

While Until Dawn: Rush of Blood may not be the sequel that I was hoping for, it is certainly a spin-off that is well worth your time if you're looking to experience an immersive mix of first-person horror and arcade fun. As my first proper foray in PSVR, Rush of Blood is an entertaining few hours that showed me a good time with relatively new gaming technology, along with an idea of the true potential behind PSVR. It's not perfect, or all that long, but it is exactly what I wanted to test the waters of virtual reality. It turns out, the water is more than just fine.

Grades:

Story: until dawn rush of blood ps3 small
until dawn rush of blood ps3 us
Graphics: threestars
Gameplay: fourstars
Sound: four stars
Replayability: four stars
Overall: threeandahalfstars

 

 

About The Author
Ryan Noble
Staff Reviewer
If Ryan isn't watching, reading or playing some form of horror, he's probably writing about it. He used to be an Editor at Indie Game Magazine so he has a soft spot for independent creators, especially when they're creating fear. Whether you're one such creator, or a fellow horror fan, let's speak about spooks on Twitter or email.
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