Title: Blood & Truth Released On: May 28, 2019 Genre: Virtual Reality, First-Person Shooter Reviewed On: PlayStation VR Developer: SIE London Studio Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment MSRP: $39.99 (USD) / $49.99 (CAD)
I don’t remember the last time I had as much fun in a virtual reality game as I’ve had with Blood & Truth. As I’m having with Blood & Truth. Because immediately after the credits rolled all I wanted to do was go right back into the action to experience it all again. So that’s exactly what I did.
Blood & Truth is the spiritual successor to SIE London Studio’s The London Heist, which was featured on PlayStation Worlds and launched alongside the PSVR system. The team has taken what many of us lauded as one of the best, albeit short, experiences on the PlayStation VR system, and fleshed it out into a feature-length action packed thrill ride.
And what a ride it is.
The narrative tells the story of Ryan Marks, a retired special forces soldier who also happens to be the son of one of the most prolific crime families in London. After returning from combat overseas the family is struck by tragedy, which envelops Marks back in the criminal underbelly of London. You take control of the former soldier and embark on an almost John Wick-esque roller-coaster of revenge, plot twists, and unlikely allies.
It’s everything that you would expect from a blockbuster feature on organized crime, but not what you would typically expect from a virtual reality game. And that’s what makes it the game that every single PlayStation VR owner needs, and likely the one that will start moving PSVR units off the shelves in retail stores.
What really makes Blood & Truth the absolute thrill-ride that it culminates into, is that it has been designed so cinematically. In many ways it plays exactly like you would expect a movie of a similar caliber to have flowed. It felt like someone had dropped me into my own version of Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, or even John Wick. As the narrative progresses you feel organically pulled from one situation to another, only broken up by the loading scenes which are still integral to allow the PSVR system to process the impending action.
And through this immersion you really start to feel not just for the struggles of your own character, but for the situation that your family has wound up in. Almost half of Blood & Truth is spent in narrative-driven sections devoid of combat, and these served as wonderful opportunities to advance the plot in situations the players’ attention is wholly focused on the development of the story.
Whether sitting around the table with your family plotting the next step of your revenge, or touring the finer arts and high culture of London, these breaks from the high-octane action sequences were absolutely delightful. They gave us a chance to more thoughtfully interact with the world that SIE London Studio has created, and perhaps most importantly, create a much more logical and organic structure to the flow of the story.
My only caveat with some of these scenes, especially those in which you sitting around a table, was that there was nothing to do with your hands. In The London Heist there were always things to distract yourself with on tables, such as lighters or other paraphernalia, but these are largely absent from the narrative sections of the game. It’s not a complaint; this is likely to encourage the player to actually pay attention to the story rather than throwing beer bottles and smoking a stogie, all things that you are able to do when Blood & Truth is not trying to get integral plot points across.
Gameplay is split up between these sections where you essentially are a vessel for story-development, and those which put a gun in your hand to solve your problems. Not surprisingly, these are the highlights of the gameplay and truly make you feel like an action hero. I can’t recall a time, or a game, that has made me feel more awesome and epic than Blood & Truth. The feeling of diving out of the window of a skyscraper while being shot at, or protecting your brother during a high-speed car chase gun battle, are expertly crafted moments.
And that’s not even considering the general gunplay which feels and handles excellently, and is on par with other stellar VR games like Gun Club. I was initially skeptical when I first loaded up Blood & Truth and found out that I was required to sit in order to play, but it works will with the cover mechanics which have been brought through from The London Heist. You enter cover, and additionally hide from enemies, simply by shifting your body and moving out of line of site. This allows you to quickly pop around a corner for that perfect headshot when an enemy comes too close, or to surprise opponents with all-out warfare when the time is right.
You have to pay attention to your ammo, but thankfully there are ammunition boxes that are laying around the levels and never too far from reach. The same ammo works for your pistols, SMGs, shotguns, and the handful of other firearms you’ll come across during your exploits, but each gun handles very differently. Dual-wielding pistols is always my absolute favorite way to play, but there are guns for every occasion and they all handle exactly how you’d want them to. I had some difficulty pumping the shotgun with my left hand while holding it with my right, but this just served to amplify my immersion.
Blood & Truth is packed with collectibles, but you’ll often have to pay close attention to find them. Securing a collectible is as easy as picking it up, and they are all added to your Safe House where you can spend some time relaxing, or customizing your arsenal and practicing up in the Shooting Range. In addition to these collectibles there are a plethora of Star targets which have been scattered throughout the levels — and often in places that you’ll have to crane your neck to find — and these allow you to upgrade your guns. Each gun has a Star-threshold for a new unlockable, such as a red dot sight or under-barrel attachment, and meeting these instantly unlocks the customization.
The entire purpose of virtual reality games are to add the next level of immersion for the player, but in many cases I’ve found that because of how VR games opt to present the narrative, or the way many virtual reality games opt to throw their players straight into action, you end up losing that level of immersion. At a point it can just feel like a bunch of loosely-strung together missions without that ever-important thread to tie everything together.
Blood & Truth has that integral thread, which not only makes for a more impactful narrative, but serves to entice the player along. It’s not that you want to play the next mission so that you can shoot more bad guys; you want to take revenge. You feel the drive of your character, and for me personally it became my mission to see it through. Not for me, but for Ryan.
It felt so similar to when you walk out of a theater and the only thought running through your mind is to walk back in and immediately re-watch the movie. That is exactly how I felt when the credits rolled after the climactic conclusion to the story; one which can have multiple endings depending on exactly how you want to handle your…problems.
From the moment you put your headset on until the last bullet has been fired, you truly feel like you’re inside of an action movie made just for you. That is what makes Blood & Truth easily one of the best games on the PlayStation VR, and without a question in my mind the best first-person shooter. I don’t speak lightly when I say this is the game that every single PlayStation VR owner should own, so that they can experience what is hopefully the evolution of virtual reality narratives.
Final Score: 9/10
Blood & Truth gives the player the opportunity to headline their own high-octane action movie, and truly feel like a star.
A game code was provided by the publisher for this review.