Developer: SIE London Studio Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Review Platform: PlayStation VR
Blood & Truth aims to deliver ‘an immersive action-movie gaming experience’ for PlayStation VR, and it successfully delivers on this goal. Blood & Truth is another important step forward for virtual reality, exploring what unique experiences VR can portray. Astro Bot showcased how the 3D platformer could evolve in VR last year, and now Blood & Truth has left that same definitive mark on the first person shooter genre.
Blood & Truth follows the story of Ryan Marks, a former Special Forces soldier who returns home to London following the death of his father. The Marks family is no normal family, as Ryan’s father was a mob boss and his family all play their part in the family business. Unfortunately, Ryan and his family don’t have much time to mourn the loss of their father, as a rival mob boss named Tony Sharp decides to move in on the family’s organisation. After the hostile takeover attempt, the Marks family escape and plan to deliver retribution to Tony and his mob.
These opening moments set the scene for the adrenaline-fuelled London mob rivalry that takes place throughout Blood & Truth. The story itself ramps up as you play, expanding on the initial plot and turning things up to eleven. The Marks family are serviceable characters, but I never found myself truly connected to them. While the members of the family are complimented by some great voice work, they are never given enough time to truly become memorable characters. Despite being the playable hero, I mostly felt detached from Ryan Marks. He mostly felt like an empty shell allowing me to experience the action on screen, rather than a fully developed individual. As we never get much time to see Ryan’s personality fleshed out, that connection between player and character never truly landed for me.
Blood & Truth does deliver a satisfying villain in the form of Tony Sharp, who is the epitome of a villain you cannot wait to kill. After his actions throughout the campaign, and his constant transgressions against your family, hunting down Tony was something driving me forward. While the narrative itself allows for some incredible missions, the most interesting aspect of the story doesn’t get solved by the end of the campaign. This does get me excited for a potential sequel (which I would purchase without hesitation), but it’s something I would’ve appreciated being explored more before the credits rolled.
While the story is over in around five hours, there is more than enough reason to keep playing. There are collectibles scattered throughout each mission, stars to be earned for your performance, and extra time attack missions available upon the campaign’s completion. The more stars you earn, the more weapon skins and an additional final weapon you unlock.
Blood & Truth delivers a spectacular control system (I played using the PlayStation Move control scheme), where almost every single action and movement feels natural. There was one instance I found myself in a vent, and without any button prompts I began to move my arms in a crawling fashion, and it simply worked. There was another occasion when I was hanging from a ledge before seeing an enemy appear at the window, without any indication I could do it, I grabbed my gun with one hand delivered a satisfying headshot, earning a Trophy in the process. These moments where you begin to experiment with the controls are satisfying, and almost every single time I wondered if something was possible, it was.
Traversing the world in Blood & Truth has players look at the location they want to move to, and once selected, the player will make their way to this point; there is no instant teleport features. Blood & Truth’s movement feels almost like a revolution of the shooting gallery games of old, and it feels completely natural and well implemented. These same instinctual elements are found in Blood & Truth’s shooting mechanics. Reaching to your hips will draw your sidearm, reaching over your shoulder will equip your primary weapon, and reaching to your chest will allow you to draw a new ammo clip. I occasionally had detection issues, but that percentage was easily lower than 5% over my entire experience with Blood & Truth. Every single aspect of this control scheme feels perfect, responsive and I’ll say it again, natural. Even during the hectic moments of battle, if you think it will work, it more than likely will. For example, players can pick up thrown grenades and send them right back at their enemies, or duck down behind cover to avoid enemy gunfire.
These chaotic shootouts are intense, and simply deliver the best VR gunplay experience I have ever played. While aspects like blind firing are pointless in most shooters, in Blood & Truth this tactic is vital. Learning to use these strategic features to your advantage adds an entire new element to gunplay combat. The attention to detail in Blood & Truth is fantastic, from pumping your shotgun after firing (which feels completely badass), using your second hand to steady your primary weapon, or even, slowing down time with the Precision feature to deliver consecutive headshots. Blood & Truth delivers the feeling of being an action hero, a one man army that can defeat all his enemies, and it makes you feel like a complete badass as you do it. Also, Blood & Truth has not only made lock picking fun, but it has now set the gold standard for lock picking mini-games within the gaming industry. It may sound odd to emphasise such an overlooked feature in most games, but the lock picking in Blood & Truth is perfection.
Blood & Truth captures the over the top set pieces of the Fast and the Furious series, with the action hero badassery of classic action films. Due to being in virtual reality, this honestly feels as close to being in an action movie as possible, and it provides an incredible thrill ride throughout the campaign. There are moments you will be able to spin DJ decks whilst raining gunfire on enemies, parachute from the top of a crane into an enemy compound, or have a thrilling car chase as you transform enemy vehicles into burning wrecks. One particular moment that has stayed with me, was during one of the initial missions at a casino. Throughout the mission you have been tasked to plant C4, and upon the mission’s conclusion you see dozens of enemies in your path as you come down an elevator. Despite being outnumbered, you still have your C4. Your character exits the elevator as the casino goes up in flames, with all your enemies eliminated in one manoeuvre. These action set pieces are electrifying and due to VR, these are presented in a way no other game has delivered before.
Blood & Truth is easily one of the best looking games on PlayStation VR, though some scenes are still grainy due to the PSVR tech, the majority of the game looks great. Blood & Truth really delivers in its facial animations, as each character’s emotion and personality can be seen clearly. This is definitely a step up in terms of other PSVR titles, and hopefully sets a strong standard going forward. Blood & Truth also delivers a sequence of unique visuals that only VR can produce, especially with one particular mission taking place at an art gallery.
Blood & Truth delivers a sense of visual scale I have not experienced in VR before. During one mission you explore an aircraft hangar, and the sheer size of this location is incredible. The roof towers above and the plane situated in the background helps provide a grandiose locale. But, my favourite visual setting in Blood & Truth would have to be when you parachute into an enemy warehouse at night, from a towering crane above the city. Floating through the London night sky is breathtaking, and honestly gave me butterflies as I slowly soared through this atmospheric vista.
I’m also happy to note that Blood & Truth never struggled to keep up with my full 360 degree movements as I explored the detail of each location. It’s a testament to the quality of Blood & Truth that every single aspect of each location has achieved the same amount of detail as the last.
Blood & Truth is like The Fast and the Furious series, and an action movie had an adrenaline fuelled baby, and it’s outstanding. While the main hero and characters throughout the campaign left a lot to be desired, the insane action featured during the missions more than make up for these issues.
The VR gameplay feels like a natural instinct and the moments you utilise it without being prompted, are genuinely thrilling. Blood & Truth is also a visual delight, and while the PSVR can only deliver so much in terms of visuals, Blood & Truth squeezes every ounce of visual brilliance out of this device. Above all else, Blood & Truth is extremely enjoyable.
Sometimes you just want to put on an action movie and be swept up by the incredible set pieces, gain an adrenaline rush through thrilling scenes, and be left in awe by the sheer spectacle on screen. Blood & Truth delivers on all these aspects, but instead of simply being a bystander to the action, you are the participant, you are the actor, and you are the stuntman.
The Score: 8.5
PlayStation VR review code was provided by publisher.