The highly anticipated follow up to the short London Heist teaser is finally here, and brings with it a more fleshed out world with plenty of set pieces and much, much more cockney. Blood & Truth is SIE London Studio's attempt at a real sequel to the popular segment of VR Worlds, which players praised for its tactile feel, great voice acting and immersive action. We're happy to report that Blood & Truth succeeds in turning that short demonstration into a full game, and it's a more satisfying experience for those who loved that initial VR Worlds teaser.
Blood & Truth doesn't follow on directly from London Heist, so don't expect any major story or level links beyond the London gangster vibe. In Blood & Truth, you are caught up in a war between two seedy underground organisations; your family-run business and one of a similar nature led up by a bunch of big-time baddies who are hell-bent on taking over your business at all costs. It's a violent affair and one that does little to stray away from its summer blockbuster clichés. However, the incredible motion capture and voice acting work pull you right in, and even though you know it's cheesy and over the top, you can't help but get sucked into the story, which is well-paced and engaging.
Even though most of the game takes place in England's capital city, you start out in a far-flung destination, somewhere in the middle of the desert. While out on this operation, the game introduces its core mechanics, including character movement and weapon handling. We played through the story mode using the move controllers, which definitely feel like the intended way to play. Although the tracking didn't always play nice, the majority of the shooting, breaching and lock picking felt great using the motion controls. The way that both hands operate a weapon independently means you always feel in control of who to take down, and how to do it. There are never usually more than five or six enemies on screen at once, but having the freedom to pick off enemies left and right improves the feel of combat, which combined with the manual magazine reloading makes for a game that feels very tactile.
Beyond shooting stuff, other mechanics revolve around climbing and moving. Climbing feels great, as the Move controllers act like ladder steps/rungs or monkey bars, and the amount of physical movement needed is quite forgiving. In terms of character movement, much has been spoken of the game's lack of free-flowing movement, but the system in place works well enough. Typically, you have a few cover spots you can move to in the middle of a firefight, and the game also has a static area which you can move your body around in, much like the system in Superhot VR. All in all, the mechanics work well within the limitations of using the Move controllers, and the game does a good job at balancing manual interactions with taking control every once in a while when things might get too finicky.
The story quickly picks up once you return to base in London, and when you meet your family there, the game beings to highlight the quality of the voice acting and motion capture, with performances from Steven Hartley (Tony Sharp) and Jay Taylor (Nick Marks) particularly impressive. Much of the cast may be overly cockney, but it works and the game screams James Bond meets Guy Ritchie once the set pieces start to really get going. We won't spoil much more, but be ready for plenty of infiltrating, killing and high-tailing it outta there!
One area we feel the game could have improved on somewhat is the length and structure of its story-based campaign mode. As it stands, the game plays out as four acts, with a sort of introduction, beginning, middle, and end structure. This is all pretty typical but we feel like the style of game and the story it tells would have been well-suited to an episodic format. Crime dramas are a perfect point of reference, and a "next time on Blood & Truth" screen popping up after every major in-game act would have given the story a chance to breathe, and indeed the player. VR games can be hard to play for much longer than an hour or two, meaning it would have benefitted even more so from a more divided structure. As the game clocks in at around five hours long, an episodic structure could have allowed for more content to be added over time, as the runtime did feel a little short, and the story a little rushed.
The bonus modes that are present in the game do very little to offer any variety outside of the main story campaign, but Sony says there is much more to come. New content such as leaderboards, a New Game +, a hard difficulty, and additional challenges are coming, but at launch, the only options are to replay story missions individually or partake in a very brief Time Attack mode. Time Attack isn't much more than a target range and each of the five arenas takes no more than two minutes to complete. With that in mind, the extras promised can't come quick enough and it looks like the game will be getting a good amount of support after launch.
What's present in Blood & Truth is great, but it's what isn't there that disappoints us a little. An episodic format to build upon and more bonus modes would be ideal, as the game's short story mode is the meat of the experience, meaning Blood & Truth is a five-hour experience at launch. However, those five hours are a blast and whether you're planning out a sneaky infiltration mission, attempting an audacious exit from a sticky situation, or just straight up shootin' bad dudes, Blood & Truth is a fantastic addition to anyone's PSVR library.