Just over a year ago now, the subtle horror hit Until Dawn hit shelves as well as gamers across the face, in the best sort of way. Greatly talked about from small circles and niche groups to the massive general audience, Until Dawn was quick to reach a near cult level following with is traditional horror tropes, branching story, and intricately cinematic gameplay and interaction. Since first completing a play through or two, everyone who has touched Until Dawn has been begging for any information as to the sequel to the Supermassive Games hit. Sadly, no news on an Until Dawn 2 has been confirmed, but a little extra taste of the universe has trickled down the tracks in the form of the PlayStation VR game Until Dawn: Rush of Blood.
SHOOTING IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD
There is not much more to gameplay for Until Dawn: Rush of Blood than what is shown in trailers and teasers. Essentially, the game is a cart shooter set in virtual reality. For those who may not know, this means that you are set in a tracked cart with no real control over where you go, but shoot at targets as they appear. Not much to gameplay, but replayability is at a peak in this one. Even though the game is short and rather repetitive, the leaderboards, scoring, collectables, and secrets will keep you coming back for more.
Starting off in a strange, nearly abandoned side-show attraction, you ride the cart, shooting at targets and pop-up clowns as you go. All of this aims to give you a feel for operating in the virtual world. You may recognize the ring-leader of sorts as the mysterious stranger from Until Dawn, hunting wendigoes on the mountain. AS you move along and gain your bearings, the original psycho eventually appears, and changes your course, separating you from the stranger. From here, the jump scares become more real as clowns, not the cardboard cut outs, begin attacking you.
THE VIRTUAL REALITY OF BLACKWOOD MOUNTAIN
Though you never get to see yourself, it is safe to assume that you are taking on the role of Josh. After all, when you look down, it does seem like you are wearing the tattered denim and flannel adorning Josh in the original game. You also get little touches of Hannah and Beth, Josh’s sisters, throughout the experience. These moments are small and subtle, so a casual player may not recognize them. This exceptional wink to dedicated fans is a nice touch. For those who have played the original game, stop and think about Rush of Blood after playing, and you may realize that it works as a bit of a prequel; a prolog if you will.
Admittedly, the world in the virtual reality game is small and lacking in exploration, but what is presented to you is fleshed out and wonderfully eerie. The initial cart ride, as you move into a giant clown mouth, embarking on your journey in virtual reality is awe inspiring to say the least. From this point forward, there is more than enough to shoot at and plenty of jump scares to keep your heart racing and you coming back for more.
Even though the experience is fun to play and incredibly entertaining to throw friends and family into, there are occasional problems with the reality aspect of the virtual reality. Regardless of it you play with a DualShock 4 or PlayStation Move controllers, expect to recalibrate on more than one occasion. As you jerk and jump around, gunning down shooting range ducks and psychotic clowns, you will inevitably notice your virtual hands slowly mangling into non-human shapes. Luckily, recalibration is quick and painless, rarely drawing away from play, requiring you to simple hold your hands still and hold the options button.
Until Dawn came out in August, 2015 to unexpected, massive success. A true sequel still alludes us all, but Until Dawn: Rush of Blood gives a little glimmer back into the universe while making use of simplistic gameplay and virtual reality in a way that fans and newcomers to both the franchise and virtual reality can appreciate. Though the game is disappointingly short for each play through, the ability to go back and play again is undeniable. With mild calibration issues peppered throughout, shooting all along the cart ride is otherwise fluid and feels nearly natural. Even though the thirst for a fully realized follow up is painstakingly real, Rush of Blood is a fantastic and permissible exploitation of franchise recognition that works perfectly as a fun game to jump in, attacking the leaderboards, as well as an introduction for newbies. All that is left is to strap on a PS VR headset, calibrate your controllers, and enjoy.. the… ride.