Blood & Truth
Developed by: London Studio
Published by: Sony interactive Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation VR
Virtual reality gaming is still in an embryonic state. Although there have been breakout titles that have made excellent use of the technology (“Moss,” “Superhot VR,” and “Tetris Effect” to name a few) far more games remind me of the current confines of the medium which can include awkward traversal systems or strange object scaling. “Blood & Truth,” the new action title that’s exclusive to PlayStation VR, avoids these specific problems. Still, as I made my way through its nineteen missions, I rarely lost myself in the game for any length of time because of issues that kept me overly mindful of the controllers in my hands. And as any veteran player will tell you, no one wants to be thinking about controllers while playing an action game.
“Blood & Truth” is a revenge tale that puts players behind the hands of Ryan Marx, a highly trained military operative whose immediate family runs one of Europe’s biggest black market operations out of their base in London. Near the start of the game Ryan is called back from a deployment in a desert land to attend his father’s funeral. Soon after the ceremony, the head of a rival organization makes a power grab which sets off a mutually destructive chain of events.
Like much of VR right now, “Blood & Truth” coasts on its novelty. Its spies-and-mobsters story line is unlikely to entrench itself in long-term memory but that doesn’t much diminish the curious experience of sharing space with its virtual characters. When, for example, Ryan takes a car ride with his brother, who had picked him up from the airport, there is a nice interactive moment where Nick passes Ryan a vaporizer, which you can grab with a PlayStation Move controller, raise to your mouth and puff. Alas, you can’t pass it back.
The first shootout that stood out for me begins with Ryan in a DJ booth. Standing behind the DJ controller I tinkered with musical effects until goons started scurrying below me. Then I shot at them with my left hand as I scratched a record with my right — a scenario I found unusually appealing.
The developers of “Blood & Truth” did well to include other features that complement the gunplay. Ryan has a tool kit that he periodically fishes out to get past security devices. Using the Move controllers you can unscrew bolts, pick locks, snip wires, and plant charges. Although a standard PlayStation controller can be used, the Move controllers are recommended since they better facilitate the illusion that you are operating Ryan’s individual hands. It pains me to say that my frustrations with “Blood & Truth” are focused on the fact that the PlayStation camera and the Move controllers seem ill-equipped to deliver a consistent 1:1 experience. The game itself, while certainly not a classic, strings along a series of action scenes well enough.
Holstering a sidearm in the game involves performing a corresponding gesture with the PlayStation Move controller, while reloading a gun requires raising a controller to your chest as though you are grabbing a clip. One of the nifty things about a VR action game like this is that during a firefight one can physically lean in and out of cover. Unfortunately, I found that doing so often threw off the calibration making loading and holstering my weapon difficult. This led to several game over screens. Moreover, I found it impractical to operate rifles with two hands because no matter how carefully I tried to keep steady the Move controller that corresponded to the hand on the weapon’s stock, it was never long before a disjunctive movement in the game occurred that made me give up. So, like some kind of knockoff Rambo, I ended up one-handing everything. The finicky Move controllers leave much to be desired.
Caveats noted, I’d recommend “Blood & Truth” to anyone itching for an action game on PlayStation VR because there aren’t many titles that offer a campaign this fully realized. Nevertheless, one can only hope that a successor to the PlayStation camera and Move controllers aren’t too far away.
Christopher Byrd is a Brooklyn-based writer. His work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Byrd.
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