Hilarious and rowdy, Rush of Blood is a horror hoot.
"It's a grim House of 1,000 Corpses that naturally builds to the horror-absurdity of Stephen King's It by the end of the ride."
I sniffed at Rush of Blood when it was first announced. Until Dawn was one of my favourite games of last year, and taking all that was and turning it into an arcade shooter seemed to be pissing on everything developer Supermassive Games had built; horror, tension, characters, beautiful visuals and an accomplished atmosphere.
This isn't Until Dawn 2. Rush of Blood is only marginally related to the original, with the return of a few characters and locations. But don't let that stop you. Because Rush of Blood is a fantastic old-school arcade shooter, with jump scares and hilarious violence that moves at such a break-neck speed it covers up any weaknesses you'll find in PlayStation VR.
Yes, it's an on-rails shooter, much like a light-gun game (remember those?) but with the expanded movement afforded by VR it feels much less constricted. You sit still, but it commands you to sweep left to right, up and down, taking pot shots at targets as you flash past them with brief seconds to hone your twitch skills.
Wrapped in a carnival atmosphere and dripping in gore, it's an accomplished ghost train as much as it is a great shooter. Jump scares are everywhere and effective due to VR's ability to put you up close to the monsters. The lights go off briefly and BAM, some creepy fucker is screaming in your face. As much as it's used, it still doesn't feel cheap by the end of it because it just works so well.
It's not just jump scares, either. There's a nasty atmosphere that helps build dread, and a room full of giant screaming pigs that burst with shotgun blasts is enough to disgust anybody. It's a grim House of 1,000 Corpses that naturally builds to the horror-absurdity of Stephen King's It by the end of the ride. Supermassive fully embraces its 70s occult, slasher and gore themes and runs with it, screaming into the night.
On top of that is the shooter itself, which litters the ride with a billion shootable objects and enemies. You build score multipliers by hitting targets consistently, whether static such as hidden dolls, skulls, and bullseyes, or moving targets coming for your blood. There are weapon power-ups that add a little tactical depth, and as you're dual-wielding at all times, there's reason to hold back the double-barrel shotgun if enemies get close, while spray and praying with the uzi. Guns such as the revolver hit with a solid punch, and combined with some excellent sound design it feels like you're really blasting holes in the creeps as they approach.
"Supermassive fully embraces its 70s occult, slasher and gore themes and runs with it, screaming into the night."
Rush of Blood packs in much more than you'd expect from an on-rails shooter. Your weapons also act as torches to illuminate the dark, so there's plenty of scope to come back and improve high scores. You'll need to switch tactics and thinking to take down some of the bosses rather than just pulling triggers and blindly blasting the bejesus out of everything you see, and there's a handful of alternate routes through the majority of levels. There are some genuinely nice visual touches too, such as glowing weapons when they're due a reload, and enough creepy details to have you head spinning just to goggle at the weird shit as looking out for targets and enemies.
It's fair to say Rush of Blood would be nowhere near as effective without VR, almost pointless without it. It's not a ground-breaking new genre, but it's a highly accomplished arcade shooter, a wild ride that throws you around a bloody pit of fun if you surrender to it. It's good to see a developer embracing PS VR, much like Rocksteady has with Batman: Arkham VR.
Forget this isn't Until Dawn 2, put the headset on, pick up your pistols and embrace the madness.