Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is a horror rail shooter launch title for PlayStation VR. It begins with a creepy carny warning you about the horrors that lie ahead. Once you ignore his warnings and accept the challenge of going on the ride, the cart you’re sitting on begins to move. As you’re maneuvered through the haunted house shooting ducks and targets with your two BB gun pistols something begins to change. With the flip of a switch the simple carnival ride turns into a fight for your life, putting you on a course through a maze of crazed clowns, demons and possessed hotel guests.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood Details:
PS Store Page
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe
Available & Reviewed On: PlayStation VR
Release Date: October 13th, 2016
If you’ve ever been on a ride at disney world where you shot targets as you move around on tracks, you essentially know how to play Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. You are placed on a moving cart and must defend yourself from various horrors, in addition to shooting stationary targets around you in virtual haunted houses—it’s literally an ‘on rails shooter’.
The goal of the game is to get your score as high as possible. Hitting smaller targets and shooting enemies in quick succession will earn you more points. Rush of Blood allows players to either choose the PlayStation 4 controller or the PS Move controllers to control their weapons. I chose the Move controllers for my play through, because I found them to be more natural than a DualShock controller.
Shooting the targets at the beginning of the game got me excited for some zombie killing as I tried to rack up my score as high as possible and get a feel for the controls. I enjoyed this part of the game, twisting and turning around, trying to find and shoot every last target before I proceeded to the next room.
Rush of Blood occasionally felt like a roller coaster ride as it dipped and wove through slaughter houses, haunted hotels, and a few other typical haunted locations, which was entertaining at times. The game also had several sections where you have to position your body and head so that it doesn’t get knocked off by objects as you cruise through the level (like low hanging boards). This, accompanied with gunplay, was enjoyable at times but could also be awkward when trying to shoot and dodge at the same time all while trying to face the PS camera for fear of the controllers losing their tracking.
Once the stationary targets turned into enemies that actually attack you, the game took a turn for the worse. I kept waiting for a satisfying blast with a shotgun or long range headshot with the pistol but those experiences never came. Occasionally, you will get lucky and pick off a faraway target or shoot a clown-zombie right before it gets to you and is fairly satisfying, but those instances were few and far between.
One of the things that Rush of Blood does right is the level design. The seven different levels are fairly unique and each have their own flair to them. One level has you swerving through a slaughter house of squealing pigs evading saw blades as you weave along the path.
The game is fairly immersive to start and really had me believing that I was on a carnival ride shooting at ducks, boxes, and clowns; as the game introduced the “real” enemies the immersion took a hit.
The first time I picked up the upgraded pistol and leveled it at a demonic clown I was excited; I grinned and pumped him full of rounds as he manically ran towards me. The lack of fluid animations when I killed him made me think that the game had actually glitched; the clown was instantly knocked over and on the ground. As I killed more and more enemies it was clear that this was just how the deaths were animated; I was constantly reminded me that this was just a game on a screen.
There were a few times where the jump scares got me and made me gasp. But, that’s a reaction ingrained in everyone. I jumped not because the developers had built up a level of suspense and then reached a climax with something terrifying. I never felt deep fear or felt like my life was in danger like I’ve experienced with some other horror games; Rush of Blood relied on the instinctual response to a loud noise and a monster two inches from my face.
The comfort level varied throughout Rush of Blood. There were times when I felt completely comfortable and the motion controls worked perfectly but there were other times when felt a slight nausea as the cart ripped around turns. At times the tracking on the controllers would sometimes malfunction and made it feel like I had short dinosaur arms.
This unpredictable level of comfort made me uneasy. Wondering when the nausea would set in or when the controls stutter was frustrating. I understand that the controllers going awry might be a hardware issue, but a developer needs to design their game with the system’s limitations in mind. Given that controller stuttering can be seen clearly in the launch trailer, it seems clear that the developers were aware.