It’s safe to say that there wasn’t exactly an overwhelming selection of top-flight titles for the launch of PlayStation VR. Much like the day one lineup for any new gaming platform, there were some standouts, some stinkers, and plenty of middling examples to fill the gaps in between. One of those first games many gravitated towards was PlayStation VR Worlds. Developed by SIE London Studio, this was a beefed up demo disc of sorts, an experimental dive into five unique interactive experiences built for Sony’s new virtual reality tech.
Of these short demos and experiences, London Heist was easily the favourite. There was an unshakable Guy Ritchie vibe to it, cramming a snappy yet satisfying crime caper into an hour or so of gameplay. It helped underline PSVR’s immersion factor and the ways it could enhance cinematic storytelling.
London Studio clearly took the hint and now, two and half years later, that concept has evolved into its own fully fledged game: Blood & Truth.
Donning your VR headset you’ll slip into the role of Ryan Marks, an ex-soldier whose family runs a well-established criminal enterprise, but after returning home to bury your late father, it doesn’t take long for things to kick off. Your family’s rivals move in for a hostile takeover, forcing Marks back into duty, the city now his warzone.
Despite laying some interesting groundwork, the story itself is fairly forgettable. You’ll get to spend some quality time with a handful of the game’s characters, but this never really goes anywhere. Where Blood & Truth excels is with its set piece action and although attempts have been made to conjure up an engaging narrative thread, the sequences in between can feel like padding.
Since London Heist launched in tandem with the PlayStation VR, there’s been no shortage of first person shooters, each of them experimenting in different ways when it comes handling player movement. While some, such as the sublime Firewall: Zero Hour, offer complete freedom of movement, other games keep you rooted to one spot or adopt a “slingshot” method of beaming you from one vantage point to the next.
Blood & Truth manages to finds a satisfying middle-ground, which I found myself referring to as “Time Crisis plus”. Much like the classic Namco lightgun shooter, you’ll weave through linear levels, hopping in and out of cover as push ahead.
The best way to experience Blood & Truth? A pair of PlayStation Move controllers, by far. While the DualShock 4 is still supported, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to jump into any top-tier VR game without a pair of Sony’s weird-looking wands in your hands.
The setup for these is incredibly simple. After the usual checks, the game will get you to hold a controller to your chest, then to your hips, as this is a place where your hands will often travel to holster weapons and grab ammo clips. Gunfights are designed to mesh with this reliable yet limited movement pattern. Enemies will attempt to move in on your position though gravitate towards your field of view, making sure that the action is focused in front of you.
The shooting itself is satisfying for the most part, though it doesn’t have that same precision as Firewall: Zero Hour and a handful of other PSVR shooters. In truth, that’s not really much of an issue here; Blood & Truth lends itself to frenzied, arcade-style firefights while also allowing you to squeeze in some added finesse. A limited “Precision Mode” mechanic is there to help too. This will temporarily trigger a bullet time effect, letting you place a few easy headshots or spray your way out of a hairy situation.
While shooting is clearly the focus, London Studio does a great job of sandwiching these segments between first person cutscenes and other gameplay segments. Between shootouts, you’ll still find plenty to interact with, from lockpicking doors and climbing walls, to deactivating alarms. There’s no real challenge to these morsels of gameplay, but they help break up the action.
You’ll also find plenty of nonessential objects strewn throughout each level, fun little playthings that cement that sense of immersion. There’s a nod to the original London Heist and its cigar-smoking scene, as Blood & Truth features a range of collectible vapes hidden throughout the game. It’s a goofy yet neat little touch.
This is by far one of the best-looking games available on PlayStation VR. The developers strike a excellent balance between its top notch presentation value and having readable, VR-friendly levels that were rarely a strain on my eyes, even after prolonged periods. The sound design is great too, accompanying the action with a decent music selection and convincing voice work.