When the PlayStation VR first released back in late 2016, it was a bit light on content. One of the device’s launch titles, PlayStation VR Worlds, contained a short experience called London Heist, and it was easily the most impressive thing available for the headset. Now, three years later, SIE London Studio has created an entire game based around that idea, and that game is Blood and Truth. After roughly five hours of shooting (and vaping, more on that later), my time with Blood and Truth came to a close, and it left me desperately wanting more.
Game Name: Blood and Truth
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (PSVR)
Publisher(s): Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): SIE London Studio
Release Date: May 28, 2019
Blood and Truth is a VR FPS. While that’s not exactly the most original use for VR technology, Blood and Truth is able to set itself apart from the ocean of mediocre VR shooters thanks to its style, its substance, and its charm. Blood and Truth is a game filled to the brim with character, and it continued to keep me engaged with exciting setpieces, exhilarating combat, and interesting VR gimmicks, even though it stumbled every now and then with overly drawn-out and bland narrative segments.
While you can play Blood and Truth with a standard Dualshock 4 controller, it was clearly designed to be played with dual PlayStation Move controllers, and the immersion and fun-factor skyrockets when using them. The Move controllers are obviously used for shooting Blood and Truth‘s wide array of weapons, but they have other uses as well. Ammunition is stored in a pouch on your chest, and your weapons are holstered on your hip and on your back. Managing reloads and switching weapons in the heat of combat is a lot more hectic when you have to actually use your hands, and that paired with physically aiming and leaning around cover made shootouts feel visceral and rewarding.
When you’re not shooting, Blood and Truth tasks you with light puzzle solving, usually just fiddling with a panel using an assortment of tools. These interactions were frequent, almost overly so, but they’re brief enough that they never get frustrating. Picking locks, cutting wires, and unscrewing screws provided a nice change of pace from shooting waves of enemies. You can also interact with various objects in the environment, going through drawers and tossing crumpled up paper into trash cans. There are even vapes hidden throughout the game world that you can find, and yes, you can hit them. They even come in a variety of flavors!
You don’t have a lot of control over your movement in Blood and Truth as the experience is largely on-rails. You simply look at a predestined location and press a button to walk there. There’s no head bob either, which reduces the possibility of motion sickness but further contributes to the on-rails feeling. You can at least strafe left and right in cover, giving you some freedom to position yourself during combat. There are climbing sections as well, and while these are still mostly linear, you have a lot more freedom in hand placement. Climbing was almost always more engaging than traveling on foot, but neither was particularly exciting.
That doesn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things, however, because Blood and Truth is a shooter first and foremost, and the shooting is excellent. Suppressed pistols, combat shotguns, revolvers, grenade launchers, submachine guns, Blood and Truth has it all, and each weapon is just as satisfying to use as the last. In most video games, I usually find myself sticking to certain weapon archetypes and ignoring the rest due to personal preference, but in Blood and Truth, I regularly swapped out weapons when I came across new ones because they were all so fun to shoot. Each shot delivers a satisfying pop, and the shotguns sound especially devastating. Dual-wielding powerful weapons, quickly reloading so I could continue my headshot streak felt like a scene straight out of a John Wick movie.
Each weapon can be customized with a number of attachments like laser lights and suppressors, and they can be spray painted different colors too. These customization options are unlocked with stars, which are Blood and Truth‘s “currency” of sorts. Stars are earned by finding collectibles (like the vapes), earning high scores, or shooting hidden targets during missions. While they do come in handy, you can perform just fine with vanilla weapons, and you’ll sometimes come across weapons with pre-installed attachments out in the field.
The game is at its best when it’s just straight action. Casino shootouts and construction site skirmishes were the highlight of my time with Blood and Truth. There were a number of exciting car chases and running segments where the game automatically sprints forward for you so you can focus on shooting enemies. Moments like those made me feel like I was playing a big, dumb action movie with ridiculously over-the-top setpieces (which Blood and Truth delivers in spades).
Unfortunately, Blood and Truth decides to slow the action down considerably at times, and it had me wishing there was a way to skip dialogue. The entire cast of Blood and Truth might as well be cardboard cutouts. They’re uninteresting and any would-be emotionally powerful moments are robbed of any impact because it’s difficult to care for these characters. Performances are great though, and some lines did manage to get a chuckle out of me here and there.
That’s not to say all of Blood and Truth‘s narrative moments fall flat. A segment in an art gallery plays with the fact that you’re wearing a VR headset, filling rooms with pretty lights and things to play with. There’s even a bit where the lights cut out in a room full of mannequins. Blood and Truth is full of fun VR gimmicks like these. Other fun moments include putting sunglasses on and having your vision become darker or the game reading the PSVR’s built-in microphone so you can blow smoke after hitting a vape (which never got old).
When Blood and Truth let me explore interesting environments, I was okay with that, but when it sat me down and had people talk to me, I quickly lost interest. The story starts to go to some sort-of interesting places toward the end, but just when things begin to pick up near the conclusion of the game’s five-hour campaign, the credits roll. A sequel is very clearly set up, and I’d love to see what SIE London Studio could do if they try their hand at a second game in the series.
The primary thing that holds this game back is the PSVR itself. Because of the PSVR’s less than ideal tracking solution, I had to recalibrate my position multiple times throughout my playthrough. Because the lights on the Move controllers can interfere with each other if they’re close to one another or the headset, aiming two-handed weapons like rifles was an exercise in frustration. My virtual hands were never still either, constantly jittering all over the place during more serious scenes. The headset’s low resolution ruins the impact of certain scenes because faces just appear as blurry messes when characters get too far away, and finer details in facial expressions cannot be seen unless a character is directly in front of you.
I also ran into a surprising amount of bugs in my time with Blood and Truth. At one point, the option to move forward did not appear, and I had to close and restart the game to continue the story. Another time my vision kept fading in and out as if I kept leaving the view of the camera, despite being seated and stationary. In another instance, my right hand refused to close, ruining my immersion and forcing a restart. These were only minor annoyances, but they happened too frequently during such a short campaign that they simply couldn’t be ignored.
Blood and Truth has some very high highs paired with painfully mediocre lows. Luckily, the game changes things up often enough that any part you find dull will be quickly over with before the game thrusts you into its next exciting scenario. Despite its cliche, paper-thin story and uninteresting cast, Blood and Truth still remained engaging throughout the entirety of its relatively short five-hour campaign thanks to imaginative, explosive setpieces, visceral gunplay, and diverse environments. This is the best single-player shooter available on PSVR at the moment, and it is a must-play for any PSVR owners.
Blood and Truth‘s bombastic setpieces, satisfying gunplay, and varied locales more than make up for a cliche-ridden plot and paper-thin characters. Some bugs hamper the experience, but a quick restart will fix most, if not all problems. The PSVR’s tracking solution holds the game back just a bit, but the overall experience is enrapturing enough to ignore that. This is a standout VR title and a must-play for all PSVR owners.
- Good performances
- Great gunplay
- Diverse locations
- Amazing setpieces
- Weak story
- Uninteresting characters
- Minor bugs and technical issues