Rush of Blood might be living under Until Dawn’s name, but it’s quite the spin off to last year’s branching teen horror story. Where that game was all about making decisions on the fly, following a group of teens trapped on an American mountain with a killer on the loose, this is a straight up on the rails shooter. The only decision you have is what to shoot next!
What starts as a relatively innocent ride through a decrepit and abandoned amusement park ride – set on the aforementioned mountain, this explains why it went out of business – you’re shooting up boxes, ducks and balloons. It takes a dark turn, however, when the clown mask wearing Psycho from Until Dawn appears to divert you into a creepy haunted mansion.
It’s at this point that you’re given real guns and forced to shoot down onrushing maniacs in masks, so they can’t start to hack away at you in your rollercoaster cart. That’s far from the worst you’ll encounter, as hallucinogenic green gas makes you see all manner of creepy and horrific things over the rest of the levels.
There’s reanimated corpses, (un)naturally, but they might not necessarily be human. Mannequins come to life, creepy crawlies that, well, creep, crawl and spit acid, and there’s one level that would have David Cameron breaking out in a cold sweat. Rush of Blood ticks all the horror genre boxes along the way, but there’s plenty of inventiveness mixed in with the tropes. To be fair, the same could be said of Until Dawn itself.
Each level is introduced by a familiar looking guy dressed up like a circus master before sending your cart rolling forward into the darkness. Or is he a doctor? A psychopath in a lab coat keeping you trapped in a grimy dungeon of terror? With brief flashbacks and cutaways, it ties into the main Until Dawn storyline, ostensibly depicting one of the character’s deepening madness.
Playing with a pair of Move controllers obviously gives the best experience, letting you aim both guns independently, but you can also play with a DualShock 4, with both guns pointing the same way. A minor concession to this limitation is that you can move them closer or further apart with the analogue sticks, letting you better target two things at once. When things get really hectic, though, you will be at a disadvantage, especially as the DS4’s forward facing light bar can lose tracking when going bast 80 degrees from the camera.
And things can become very frantic at times, when dozens of smaller enemies start to flood towards you – the difficulty does spike on one or two occasions. You get better guns by shooting the brightly coloured boxes that occasionally appear, including uzis, double-barrelled shotguns, magnums and explosive flare guns.
Everything but the standard pistol has a limited number of clips, and reloading is thankfully as simple as hitting R1 or the Move button, and signified by the barrel glowing red hot, instead of demanding some fancy motion controls. That’s the extent of the controls, as well. Each hand holds whatever gun was picked up most recently, before stepping down to the previous one, all the way back to the standard pistol. The game’s pretty generous when it needs to be, so there were only a handful of occasions when I found myself at a real disadvantage.
When there aren’t any enemies rushing at you, you’re still firing away at the star marked objects to keep your multiplier as high as possible and your overall score ticking over. You’re also on the look out for little dolls with lit up pointy hats, which are the game’s collectibles, but when it’s quiet, there’s always the nagging feeling that something’s going to jump out at you.
It leans on the classic jump scare quite often, but what self respecting amusement park house of horrors doesn’t have a few of those? It actually keeps things nice and varied, mixing stand and shoot moments with slowly rolling through areas, the need to physically move to dodge buzzsaws and other hazardous objects, and rollercoaster sections that really make use of VR.
You obviously miss out on the G-forces, the rush of wind in your face and sheer elation of a rollercoaster, but there’s still something about coming up to an imaginary dip and hurtling down and around the area. There’s nothing too outlandish, with big dips and long curves as opposed to doing loop the loops and spirals, but it’s still rather effective, whizzing the scenery past you at a frightening pace.
By and large, the game looks good, but not amazing – actually these dark screenshots don’t do it justice. It suffers from quite a bit of aliasing on PSVR, and some areas are pretty bland to look at, simply because they’re grimy old houses that are falling apart, but there’s plenty of bizarre imagery and a few otherworldly settings that add variety. Your only reliable source of light comes from the flashlights mounted on your two guns, but even these can cut out for effect, plunging you into total darkness.
Once you’re done, there are some small incentives to go back through the levels and play again. The Stranger says as much, nudging you to go and revisit areas, find collectibles, trigger different points on the tracks to head down divergent paths and, of course, trying to improve your score. There’s four difficulty levels, the topmost of which gives you just a single life to try and get through with, which will keep you occupied for quite some time. How much of a kick you get out of doing that is down to your own compulsive nature.
Rush of Blood isn’t particularly scary, unless you’re deathly afraid of some of the many different creatures and monsters that come your way, but it still makes for an entertaining few hours. Were it not on VR, this might easily be discarded and overlooked, but that simple fact makes it stand out. VR is a real opportunity for the revival of the light gun game, but where Time Crisis and House of the Dead played out on the small screen, Rush of Blood transports you right into the twisted world that Supermassive have created.