Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood Review – To The Head

Other critics may be tepid about this hilarious arcade shooter, but that’s why they’re not on my level.

01

Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Sony
Format: PlayStation VR
Released: October 13, 2016
Copy provided by publisher

If there’s any one game that’s come close to convincing me of virtual reality’s merit, it’s Until Dawn: Rush of Blood.

It’s ridiculous, bordering on stupid, and it’s nothing like the critically acclaimed Until Dawn from which it takes its name. It’s also a hugely entertaining on-rails shooter with hilarious scares and arcade shooting that works surprisingly well.

Rush of Blood is quite literally on-rails as players find themselves sat in a twisted carnival ride. With a gun in each hand, players fire at a variety of targets ranging from cardboard cutouts to severed heads on spikes, all painted in gaudy colors. As the players’ carriage trundles through what appears to be Until Dawn‘s mountainous retreat, things get progressively spookier.

The masked “psychopath” from the original game shows up to torment players, joined by clown-faced monsters, shrieking ghosts, and spiders that aren’t shy about getting right up in somebody’s face.

Being a PlayStation VR launch game, Rush of Blood naturally does the same thing many 3D movies did when that temporary craze took over Hollywood – it throws a lot of stuff at the camera for cheap thrills. Surprisingly, however, it works quite well, since Rush of Blood convincingly establishes itself as a tacky horror ride and can subsequently get away with pulling off tacky jump scares – some of which can be legitimately scary.

More than that, however, the environments in which these scares take place are utterly horrific. The second stage is a gigantic slaughterhouse full of screaming pig corpses and saw blades that must be physically avoided by tilting the PSVR headset. Shrieking noises surround the player while the imagery is simply grotesque, creating a nervewracking atmosphere which porcine-headed monsters happily manipulate to terrify their audience.

02

With a Move controller in each hand, players get an effective lightgun-style game reminiscent of House of the Dead. Enemies leap into the world and pace toward the player, needing to be quickly gunned down lest they grab onto the carriage and start dealing damage. Thrown objects can be shot out of the sky, and there are – of course – plenty of exploding barrels on offer to clear out crowds.

Different weapons can be picked up by shooting crates, granting temporary use of armaments including shotguns, uzis, and revolvers. Creepy clown babies litter the world, and a sub-goal is finding and shooting them all in any given stage. You’ve got to shoot the clown babies. Shoot them all.

Shoot the clown babies.

Firing feels responsive, with the PlayStation Camera tracking movements fairly well to create satisfying gun combat.

Rather than use crosshairs, Rush of Blood affixes flashlights to each gun – it’s an interesting move that gives players a fairly reliable way of gauging their aim but isn’t so direct as to guarantee they’ll always hit their target – its just vague enough to require some added care and skill while fighting.

What I really enjoy is how the game works well as an arcade shooter independent of its status as a PSVR title. While the VR chicanery undoubtedly makes it scarier and – to borrow an overused phrase – more immersive, it’s still a fun arcade shooter in its own right, with all the gaudiness and overemphasized action that comes with it.

I believe Rush of Blood could easily be retooled as a more traditional lightgun shooter and still be a heck of a lot of fun.

03

While tracking works well and the combat is immediately gratifying, VR limitations can cause trouble. Missing bonus targets like clown babies can be frustrating as the player’s natural inclination is to turn around and try to shoot them from behind, but the PS Camera can only handle front-facing aiming.

It’s a special kind of sadness to watch a clown baby disappear because one’s in-game arms are having seizures the moment they’re turned.

Some sequences force this kind of problem on the player. One section in particular features monsters attacking not just from the sides, but from above as well. Aiming up to shoot at them is essential, but often leads to a huge warning box blocking the view and stating controllers are “out of the play area.”

I was reduced to aiming up and just hammering the fire button, hoping to hit the enemies quickly so I could get back to feeling like I was in the game’s world as intended. Fortunately, this issue accounts for a tiny portion of the overall production, but it’s galling regardless.

Each stage is a themed ride through some nightmarish world and I love almost all of them, but the final level is absolute crap.

Initially exciting with its huge monster swiping down at the railway tracks, it quickly devolves into an uninspired and overly punishing series of repetitive battles against boring tentacles that can one-hit kill the player if they fail to shoot its weak spot enough times within a brief window of time.

These instant deaths are especially annoying given how far back checkpoints can be and how formulaic the situation becomes as a result.

It’s a shame the final stage is little more than a generic “lava world” romp littered with dreary and annoying enemies, because up until then it’s a very genuine blast.

Easily the best looking PSVR game I’ve tried so far (though admittedly I’m still getting games as they’re drip-fed to me), the world is richly detailed with creepy accoutrements and the monster designs are excellent. Of particular note are the wraith-like screamers who blink and skitter around rooms – they look mesmerizingly intimidating in motion.

Oh, and the spider-themed level… the way that one ends… oh God.

04

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood may be a brief and silly spin-off, something far removed from 2015’s fantastic adventure game, but it’s the most fun I’ve had with a virtual reality game to date, and it’s just a brilliantly entertaining pop horror experience with enjoyable shooty-bang-bang combat.

Save for the final act, each level is a ludicrous and enthralling ghost train that builds to a delicious setpiece or freaky boss battle. It’s ostentatious stuff that never allows for a moment of subtlety, but that just makes me respect it more. This is a game that commits to being overindulgent B-grade horror fluff, and it does it too well to hate.

There’s also something clever about how you can “spoil” the game for yourself if you look down – that’s not a spoiler from me, because you’ll look down eventually, and you’ll immediately go “aaaah.”

Until then, you’ll likely be yelling “NOPE!”

In a good way, of course.

8.5/10
Great

polysix
Guest
polysix
Agree with THIS review. This is the best thing I’ve played on PSVR and the closest to ‘feeling there’ (namely because it’s you and the fresh air and not a load of retro arcade tron like gfx with no rhyme or reason – rez/hypercube et al – and also because you are not behind a screen or in a cockpit with a screen so you feel exposed. Some parts of it border on real presence, hinting at VR’s promise far more than other games. I’ve had Vive and rift also and I still think Rush of blood is the best… Read more »
M.
Guest
M.

Whether or not I get a PSVR depends on how good Resi 7 turns out to be, but if I do, I might grab this too. Dat slaughterhouse level.

polysix
Guest
polysix
*spoilers ahead* Just an info for those that only tried the demo level, that pigs level (level 2) is one of the least scary levels but is very visceral and a great intro to VR. It doesn’t have much gameplay vs later on, and it’s not as scary but it’s very nightmarish all the same. I’ve read some saying the game isn’t scary (based only on the demo level) but just to warn people it gets a LOT scarier later on, esp if you don’t like psychos breathing down your neck, fast moving ghosts screaming in your face, or lots… Read more »
ENAY
Guest
ENAY

I like a game that is good as Uncharted 4.

BendingUnit99
Guest
BendingUnit99

I have the PSVR bundle coming soon but I haven’t even picked out a launch game yet. I trust Jim’s opinion since he is omnipotent in the world of gaming, so Rush of Blood it is. Thanks Jim.

polysix
Guest
polysix
In this case he’s right. It’s not the deepest of games (Rigs is better there so long as you like sports/online challenge and FPS feel), but until dawn is proper visceral VR and feels more like ‘reality’. I feel like I’ve been on a real test of nerves, I have been known to come out of a level shaking as I pass the move controls to my GF, it can be a real living nightmare on some of the tracks ( and I love horror -movies rarely scare me)). VR is a whole new ball game! (also Have had VR… Read more »
Sapphire Crook
Member

What do you see when you look down?

polysix
Guest
polysix

An xbone without VR?

medafor
Guest
medafor

Trump’s Hand.

Something_Depressing
Guest
Something_Depressing

One thing I liked about the original game was that you never really stopped being scared because you knew you could die and if you did die you weren’t force to do the same thing over and over until you got desensitized. I wonder if this has anything to stop it from becoming annoying if you get stuck. Does sound pretty good though.

polysix
Guest
polysix
It’s really not that kind of game. It’s a very VERY super linear thrill ride, of course you’ll need to repeat sections (bosses) but you kind of learn what to do as you fail and it’s not that frustrating. At worst you’ll quit and come back another day but you can immediately select that level (ride) again and are back the boss before long. It’s really fun. I much prefer the fun of this game vs Until Dawn (the proper game), I wasn’t that impressed with UD other than the atmosphere and some gfx, Rush of blood and VR is… Read more »
MyBodyIsReady
Guest
MyBodyIsReady

I wonder if the disappointing last level left reviewers with a bad impression, game sounds good other than that

Cody Klein
Guest
Cody Klein

That was my thought after reading this review too. On two podcasts I listened to the reviewers sounded lukewarm to the game but when they described it, it sounded awesome.

But some games really DO shit the bed in the final level, ending the game with you being fucked to death by enemies instead of on a high note (I’m looking at you Dead Space 2 and XCOM 2!)

ClausGrimm
Guest
ClausGrimm

Well, if the vast majority of the game is good outside of one level (even if it is the last level), I still say that is pretty damn good.

I would LOVE to pick this up, but I can’t seem to find any PSVR headsets for sale on any websites and I am NOT about to spend 2-300 more than I need to.

polysix
Guest
polysix
Ebay! This game and PSVR rocks, and I’ve had Vive and DK2 but the comfort and lack of god rays wins me over even with the reduced power/res (the res isn’t THAT much lower tbh). PS4 PRO may well help a bit with sharpening up with super sampling and better anti aliasing. The game isn’t something you must complete, it’s like a theme park ride, you go on those rides for the fun/thrill, and you repeat it cos it feels real everytime, same here with VR (with this game at any rate). It’s not like traditional, now quite boring, trudge… Read more »
Kalle Johansson
Guest
Kalle Johansson

So essentially, it’s to Until Dawn what the original Typing of the Dead was to House of the Dead?

Sam Leheny
Member

That’s all well and good… but I still can’t believe this is a thing that exists.

SomeNerdWithABadUser
Guest
SomeNerdWithABadUser

Should’ve added “Just as good as Uncharted 4” at the end.

johnjoe
Guest
johnjoe

Jump scares are to horror what cross the road jokes are to humor. Still might give it a go when the vr fad dies a horrible death and they bring out the regular PS4 version.

polysix
Guest
polysix

It won’t feel at all right without VR. Too bad you think it’s a fad, you have no idea frankly. There’s a difference between fad/gimmick and EARLY TECH. VR is here to stay, this is early tech and it’ll get better but it’s no fad.

Rush of blood without VR would be like having sex without a woman.

johnjoe
Guest
johnjoe

Yeah because there’s never been an on rails shooter before.

Jimbo913
Guest
Jimbo913

I think you miss the point john. VR does things with old things that make these things seem like new things. Playing this on a TV won’t have nearly the same level of impact as playing this in VR.

Sperium3000
Member

Sure, the game is good, but did it really need to have Until Dawn in the name? They just picked an generic horror shooter and slapped the brand on top of it because MONEY, SON.

polysix
Guest
polysix

I agree with Jim, this has lots of assets and ‘characters’ from the game that add to the atmosphere, it was obviously easier for them to reuse assets and ideas within a completely different style of game made specifically for VR and I think it pays off here with way more atmosphere than had it been something more clinical and ‘new’.

This is no generic horror shooter either, if it was just a non VR game then maybe, but those that don’t get VR will never understand.

Hotcakes
Guest
Hotcakes

As with Batman VR, there is something to be said for cutting down on development costs by reusing existing assets, though this game seems to have less in common with its original than Batman does there’s probably still SOME room for having made some savings there.

Jack Philipson
Member

Fuck quality, you’re dual wielding pistols and shooting clowns in VR.

Nitrium
Member

Roughly how long does it take to complete? Is it good value for money? Replayability?

Nitrium
Member

Answering own questions for those interested based on various reviews: two hours or so to complete on normal difficulty. So at US$20, that’s pretty poor value compared to most other games. Replayability is also evidently pretty poor, if not for the VR “wow factor”.

polysix
Guest
polysix
Yes it’s great value for money, it’s super polished, super fun, super scary and is actually addictive to replay, esp if you have others to compete against score wise. People need to get this idea out of their heads about normal gaming equating to VR games, totally different things. These are like owning your own theme park and being able to ride it anytime you like, normal gaming (which may well have 30 hrs+ long story based linear crap that I’m more than a little weary of after gaming since the Atari VCS) has to stuff playing time in to… Read more »
ClausGrimm
Guest
ClausGrimm

For 20 bucks, I don’t think that is too bad a price. Especially if you enjoy light-gun games. I LOVED House of the Dead and while there are some alternate routes, it mostly plays the same.

polysix
Guest
polysix

Just a nit pick, why do I see people always mentioning light gun games? VR has as much to do with light guns on a 2D screen as I do with Donald Trump. You point and aim, thats it, shooting with motion controls in VR isn’t “light gun” gaming, and I should know I’ve been playing light gun games since the operation wolf port on the ZX spectrum back in 87 (yeah i’m old)

Nitrium
Member

Yeah fair enough, I ‘spose. Many AAA games feature just 6 hours or so of campaign, for US$60, which works out to the same value. Still I would have liked to see a bit more meat on something like this. For example, adding elements of procedural generation (that’s copped a lot of imo unjustified flack due to a certain game) would have kept it fresh and the scares unpredictable on subsequent playthroughs.

polysix
Guest
polysix
Well this IS a good point, it would be nice to have more surprises but a lot of this game is about learning through trial and error and needing things to be the same so you can blast blast blast, reload and prepare, even close your eyes and dread certain ‘interactions’ lol… if it was random it would lose that theme park feel. Of course they could add DLC or a sequel, which would be great. For £15 for this level of highly polished and genuinely well balanced lucid nightmare VR game I think it already delivers way more than… Read more »
ClausGrimm
Guest
ClausGrimm

Very true. If this does well, I would love them to see about doing another one, maybe based on a new IP or hell, maybe even a House of the Dead title made by them. I am sure they could do it very well.

Lewis w
Guest
Lewis w

8.5? So this is objectively better than Uncharted 4, then? This is a joke, by the way. Of course it’s better than Uncharted 4HAHAHAHAHA!

MJC
Guest
MJC

Uncharted 4 was pretty crap so a lot of things are better than it

Cimerians
Guest

This sounds and looks great, I may never get to try it. VR out of my budget at the moment.

Terry-Osaurusus Hex XI
Member

I have always wanted to shoot babies from the safety of a theme park ride. I guess if the only way videogames can allow this is by making them little cute clowns of death, then whatevs… I’ll take it!

gasmaskangel
Member

Gotta say, this one looks right up my alley. Shame about the VR stuff though, I’ve got no interest in that so I’ll have to skip it.

Mazinger z
Guest
Mazinger z

Me too I need to see where this VR stuff goes before I waste any money on it

Kyolux
Guest
Kyolux

“Oh, and the spider-themed level… the way that one ends… oh God.”

Pre-order cancelled.

Kyolux
Guest
Kyolux

/s btw… 🙂

saillc
Guest
saillc

You posted a sarcasm thing on your own comment when no one even responded? Hahaha oh jeez.

Richard Cadman
Guest
Richard Cadman

Yes, sarcasm is hard to detect on the internet you see

Anton
Member
Anton

Is necessary.

Gene Auhl
Guest
Gene Auhl

kinda reminds me of CarnEvil

gasmaskangel
Member

I’d kill for a CarnEvil reboot.

Avayu
Guest
Avayu
“Surprisingly, however, it works quite well, since Rush of Blood convincingly establishes itself as a tacky horror ride and can subsequently get away with pulling off tacky jump scares” So in a way, it does exactly the same thing as the original Until Dawn (a game I’ve not played, not owning a Playstation, but for some time, couldn’t stop watching playthroughs of). That game also embraced the conventions of its genre, in its case “teenage slasher movie”, which then allowed the developers to have fun with the common tropes of that genre and to use/recontextualize them to create new gameplay… Read more »
Kurt Jaissle
Guest
Kurt Jaissle

If Sony adds a few more games like this, I’d start to seriously consider getting the PSVR.

SilentPony
Guest
SilentPony

And then it turns out you’re the bad guy and you just murder spreed an entire circus of innocent clowns.

BAH!
Member
BAH!

There is no such thing as an “innocent clown”.

They know what they did.

SilentPony
Guest
SilentPony

Oh of course! Shoot the clown because of the color of his skin, and just say he was threatening you. Maybe even plant a whoopee cushion or buzzer on him.

You’re kind makes me sick! #ClownLivesMatter

Jesse Smith-Rogers
Member

You know even though this is a joke, clown murder is an actual issue lately. Which makes this more funny to me in a grim way.

Henriette Gaston
Guest
Henriette Gaston

Do you have a link to graphic videos?

BAH!
Member
BAH!

“Clown murder is on the rise. Are memes to blame? More at eleven!”

SilentPony
Guest
SilentPony

See I would actually appreciate it if some of these guys dressing as clowns dressed as the Joker.

SirAngry
Guest
SirAngry

Well OK then. I wasn’t expecting much from this game at all, maybe I should have been.

Anton
Member
Anton

You forgot to add “way better than Gears of War 4”.

Cindipool
Guest
Cindipool

Don’t forget “Just as good as Uncharted 4.”

Anton
Member
Anton

“…which is way better than Uncharted 4 suck it Xbots”

….. (The above is a joke, for the humorously impaired)

Chris
Guest
Chris

Don’t worry. There will be shit loads of people saying he only likes this game because bias, paying off, sony fanboy blah blah blah

Deedee Pilgrim
Guest
Deedee Pilgrim

and “Vanquish is shit”

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