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Blood & Truth (PlayStation 4) artwork

Blood & Truth (PlayStation 4) review

"Plod & Pick"

When one thinks of 2016's PlayStation VR Worlds, a launch title of five mini-games showcasing the PlayStation VR's prowess, the one mini-game that usually comes to mind is The London Heist. In terms of gameplay, the quality isn't the best, with two short action sequences and the remaining sections only letting you grope nearby objects while characters yammer in front of your headset. No, really. But whenever you play those brief moments of action, one main thing always clicks: aiming, shooting, and reloading a weapon feels so smooth and natural with the Move controllers. Something like that would seem fun in a bigger game with more things to do, and the same devs, London Studio, attempt such a feat in 2019's Blood & Truth.

Again taking place mostly in London, this time in control of ex-special forces soldier Ryan Marks, where the game throws you into sequences where... you're groping nearby objects while characters yammer in front of your headset. But! There's more action segments and they last longer! Essentially, Blood & Truth is a "full-length" version of the mini-game, right down to the way weapons feel. Within the first 20-some minutes, it also shamelessly mimics the centerpiece of The London Heist, the car escape portion where you fire at enemy bikes and trucks, except it now takes place in the desert against terrorists. You even get to grab ammo out the glove department, fiddle with buttons on the radio, and open the door of a moving vehicle. Because why not?

Considering the game is longer, several mechanics and various hands-on scenarios have been incorporated to flesh-out the experience. Probably the biggest change is how you're given the ability to move around environments. Kinda. The devs decided to take the "locomotion" method of transportation in VR gaming: pick a spot and your character automatically navigates there. Though, movement structure is linear and stricter here when compared to other locomotive titles, as you can only pick spots the game presents, and you're not even allowed to backtrack. On top of that, the game constantly flip-flops; in some cases, it'll let you move at your own discretion, but in others, you're abruptly shoved into an on-rails segment where you're running and shooting through generic hallways while bodyguards and thugs try gunning you down.

In addition to movement, Blood & Truth offers other, often brief scenarios that take "advantage" of the optional, yet highly-recommended, Move controllers. They... mainly just waste your time. With your two sticks, you'll climb ladders, crawl through vents, and even given a little tool bag for picking locks and snapping wires. Annoyingly, the game tries way too hard to push the latter mundane mechanic, to the point where you'll grow weary after the third locked door. Of all these mechanics, the most enjoyable one has to do with climbing on and around pipes during one action stage, since they require constant moving and stretching to the point of tiring your arms. This might be the only time where, even if for a second, you'll genuinely feel that you're in another world, as the real physical strain emphasizes being part of a virtual reality environment.

However, that's just one highlight in an unbalanced array of elements crammed into what was originally a short tech demo. An argument can't even be made that the game can at least be enjoyed on a fun shooty-bang level, because everything else keeps getting in the way. If it's not the tool bag mini-puzzles that break up the action, then it's the heavy emphasis on story-driven dialogue and scripted scenes. The plot is so generic and cliche in its approach to being a crime drama, whether it be characters who say "fuck" in every sentence or plot twist deaths and betrayals, that you'll have a better time watching an actual crime movie. Know what doesn't help? Having characters constantly make "quips" and "jokes," and then have everyone laugh at these remarks. It happens way too much to where it almost feels like the devs were patting themselves on the back for writing them.

Note: the two "hand" clips are actual moments from my first playthrough. I was THAT disinterested.

It's very easy to drift off in these situations, and since this is a VR title that allows control of in-game hands at all times, that's not a good thing; while characters are being super serious, you'll throw items at them, act like a creepy Mime, and even phase fists through their faces. You can't even skip trivial conversation pieces and scenes, and that's a big no-no for an action VR game with a plot, regardless of the story's quality. Time is valuable in VR, because you can only play for so long before feeling strained, so the last thing you would want, in spite of your resistance level, is for a game to waste any of it. In Blood & Truth's case, its biggest crimes are telling a really generic, boring story, and doing it in long periods of tedious conversation segments. "Enjoy" sessions where you have to trudge through plot showpieces just to reach an action stage, then quit just to rest...

But when you're actually in combat, firing at guards with two pistols, nailing off a distant guy with a sniper rifle, successfully tossing a grenade at shield-wielding baddies, or picking off motorcyclists with a pump-action shotgun, the game is fun. Though, really, it's just a VR-enhanced light gun title in the same vein as Virtua Cop and Time Crisis. There's nothing wrong with that. What's wrong, however, is fancying up this structure in such a way that ruins the simple experience of what is essentially target practice. Speaking of, Blood & Truth has a target practice mode. Is it as creative as The London Heist's, where you're shooting candles in a dimly-lit room or knocking color-coated cans in the right boxes? No. As a final insult, it's just normal target practice.

If you haven't already, you're better off purchasing PlayStation VR Worlds for the shorter version. At least this way, the game ends quicker, you have better target practice sessions, and you can also play the best title in that compilation...

Danger Ball.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (June 07, 2019)

I wonder what a modern sequel to Two Crude Dudes would look like? Then again, considering the majority of modern sequels to 25/30 year old games have been disappointing, nevermind.


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