Back at launch in 2016, we waxed lyrical about the London Heist in compilation game PlayStation VR Worlds. At just an hour, London Studio’s short crime drama perfectly captured the potential of PlayStation VR, immersing you in a variety of interactive vignettes, from a particularly harrowing interrogation sequence right the way through to an explosive car chase. Ever since then we’ve been eager to see the idea expanded upon, and having gone hands on with the brilliant Blood & Truth ahead of launch, we can confirm that it delivers with cockney aplomb.
While there’s been no shortage of top-notch software on PSVR, this is the first game to rival the likes of Uncharted in the cinematic stakes. You play as an ex-military meathead named Ryan Marks, who finds himself embroiled in a Guy Ritchie-esque gangster blockbuster. The game wears its explosive action movie inspirations on its blood-stained sleeve, with red barrels and extra ammunition around every corner. It’s equally heavy on story, though, with motion captured actors bringing its cast of somewhat seedy characters to life. As always with virtual reality, everyone feels more real.
However, it’s the gameplay that’s undoubtedly the star of the show. While the PlayStation Move wands are starting to show their age, they take centre stage here, as both of your hands can be moved independently of each other. You can holster your weapon to your thigh, grab ammunition from your chest, and generally pick up and observe any of the objects in the game world. It’s a highly interactive experience, with the developer constantly putting objects in front of you to investigate. Whether you’re picking locks or planting charges, it’s all extremely tactile.
This makes up for the fact that the traversal is somewhat on rails. While there are veterans of PSVR who may balk at the node-based navigation, the reality is that the developer wants to put the emphasis on your hands. And so the fun in combat gauntlets comes more from your firearm skills than your body’s positioning. For example, holding the triangle button enables you to spin weapons on your finger, allowing you to follow-up quick draws with some showboating before picking off the enemies in front of you.
It goes further than that, though. You can toss ammunition up in the air and then catch it in the butt of your gun, or you can feather revolvers like you’re in the Wild West to increase your shooting speed. Everything feels intuitive, natural, and, most importantly of all, fun – heck, you can even flip some foes the bird before you put a bullet in their bonce. It really doesn’t take itself too seriously, which means there’s one moment in a nightclub where you can assume the role as DJ and start mixing some tracks to an empty club. Again, everything is completely interactive using the PS Move wands.
While the story’s unlikely to last longer than six hours, London Studio is packing it with extra content. There’s a whole bonus location which serves as a museum for you to horde your collectibles – and yes, you can collect and smoke vapes in a variety of different flavours. There’s a shooting gallery for you to test out your weapons, each of which can be customised with different attachments that you unlock, and there’s even a spray paint tool that you can use to physically paint your firearms different colours. Everything is completely interactive – even balls of paper which you can toss in the bin.
And then there’s the arcade shooting galleries, which test your accuracy and speed across a variety of locations taken from the game. It sounds like the developer has plans to update the title post-release, and there may yet be a skill mode which will not only challenge you to take out targets, but to also showcase your weapon wielding abilities. Leaderboards will make their way into the title post-release, so you’ll be able to compare your personal bests against others. And the studio may not be done there, although it’s currently keeping a lid on any other future plans.
One thing also worth noting is just how good Blood & Truth looks in virtual reality. Naturally, it’s not on par with a non-PSVR title, but it’s by far the best looking title we’ve seen in the hardware thus far, with stunning visual effects like smoke and dust adding to the depth of the scenes. We played one of the set-pieces from later in the campaign, and it effectively sees you running through a dilapidated tower block as a crane crashes into it – an exhilarating experience when you physically feel the sense of vertigo as you look down from an extraordinary height.
And special mention must go to the sound, which leverages 3D audio in much the same way as the London Heist, and gives you that insane sense of presence. One of the developers explained to us that they wanted the shooting galleries to be playable blindfolded, because you should be able to hear the positions of the targets. Of course, there’s still room in the soundscape for music, and in addition to licensing tracks, the company has also had its original orchestral score remixed by real-world grime artists – perfect for capturing the “sound” of London itself.
All in all, we came away from our hands on with Blood & Truth beaming. We’re eager to see if it all holds up in a real-world environment – the demos were definitely optimised to minimise the flaws of the PS Move controllers – but assuming it all holds up then this is all but guaranteed to be a next level PSVR experience. We’ve never seen production values quite like this in the headset before, but perhaps most impressive is how London Studio has married its cinematic ambition to arcade-style gameplay that would be impossible to replicate outside of virtual reality.
Are you looking forward to Blood & Truth? Have you been waiting for a game to really push the potential of what virtual reality can do? Flip the bird in the comments section below.