Earlier this week I was invited to play some of PlayStation’s upcoming offering for the PlayStation VR, Blood & Truth. After heading into the old English pub housing the preview event, I made my way up the stairs and after giving the entry password to the very much in-character British security guard I was able to go hands-on, well face-on with the game.
Blood and Truth is a first-person shooter developed by SIE London Studio. You might be familiar with some of their work if you picked up PSVR Worlds and checked out The Heist demo. Blood & Truth is a much expanded, spiritual successor to The Heist, so those that have checked it out will know pretty much what style of game they’re in for.
In the game, you play as Ryan Marks, an ex-Special Forces soldier now on a mission to rescue his family from a high profile London crime boss. I know, it sounds like the plot of quite a few recent action films right? But that’s it, Blood & Truth puts you front an centre and allows you to feel like a badass action hero straight out of a Bourne or John Wick movie. Actually due to the setting and the accents you’ll be hearing throughout the game I’ve called Blood & Truth the perfect Jason Statham simulator a number of times now.
Levels in the game play out as a semi on-rails experience. You don’t have free movement control of Ryan. Instead you’ll traverse the stage using a node based locomotion system where you can look around and move between cover points during the fire fight segments. You’re unable to fully progress forward until all enemies in that scene are eliminated, but once they are you’re able to travel forward to the next area hopping from node to node.
Although you’re not able to travel backwards at any point. There was a point in my demo where I had cleared the area and wanted to travel into a nearby open warehouse that housed a secondary weapon but unfortunately clicked on the wrong travel node, sending me past the opening point of the warehouse and closing off my chances of turning around and going in.
Movement in the game doesn’t use the teleport method utilised in many VR titles but a smooth transition between your current point to the chosen node in a straight line. I really didn’t mind this method of movement and at no point did I feel even remotely sick while playing.
The demo was played using Move controllers which allowed for auto movement initiated by looking at the desired spot and hitting the move button on the controller or using the X or O face buttons. Much of Blood & Truth’s fun seems to come from using these Move controllers, primarily when it comes to combat (which I’ll get into momentarily) as each controller controlled one hand of Ryan, but the listing on the PS Store page says the game can be played using the DualShock 4 controller too. I’m not sure how some of the key mechanics will translate to the traditional controller but at least it’s an option for those out there that don’t own Sony’s Move controllers.
Now where Blood & Truth becomes something special is with its shooting mechanics. I play games all the time where the player character uses guns to fight foes but in Blood & Truth the immersiveness of the gun combat is taken to the next level by having you physically do things that are normally allocated to a button press in traditional first person shooters.
In Blood & Truth when you run out of ammo, reloading isn’t done just by pressing the Square button and waiting for the reload animation to play. You need to physically look down at your chest, use the other hand (Move controller) to grab another magazine from your chest, then guide it into the gun to reload it. A similar process is required for using a secondary weapon too. Where you could normally just select a new weapon from a weapon wheel in other games, in Blood & Truth I had to pull manually unholster my other pistol from my side if I wanted to dual wield, or in the case of an assault rifle secondary weapon I had to reach over my shoulder and pull it off my back to use. These manual actions along with being presented in VR added to the immersiveness of the game and made me feel like I really was in a chaotic firefight with these British gangsters.
During combat you’re able to initiate a temporary slow down/focus mode by pressing the move button on both controllers simultaneously. While in this mode you’re able to pull off some crazy take-downs with your guns and if you’re skilled enough you can even throw your ammunition magazine into the air, initiate focus mode and catch it mid air with your weapon for a seriously awesome reload.
The game during the demo I played looked great and had no noticeable performance issues. I did have one issue with what I played in the demo though. While the opening tutorial stage did a great job bringing me up to speed on how to manoeuvre and shoot, there was a scene towards the end where I had to pick the lock on another captured character’s handcuffs and the game gave really vague instructions on what I had to do to succeed via on screen arrows that would occasionally rotate.
It was a system that required me to use both hands, as you would in real life, one for the pick and one for the wrench, but the vague instructions left me twisting and flailing my arms around like a fool for a few minutes unable to progress. The on site Sony rep was also unaware of exactly what needed to be done to open the lock but after a couple minutes of trying to perfectly time the twisting and hammering of the lock I eventually got through. While it did slow down the pacing and immersiveness of the demo for me I did enjoy the picking mechanic once I worked out what the game was trying to tell me to do. Blood and Truth wants you to feel like a bad-ass killing machine and to do so I should probably get used to getting through a few doors.
Overall I really enjoyed my time with what I will continue to call the perfect Jason Statham simulator. Blood & Truth does a great job making you feel like you’re the titular character in an action movie. And best of all, we don’t need to wait long for the full game. Blood & Truth is out May 29th in Australia.
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