When we heard that they were making an on-rails shooter based in the Until Dawn universe, at first we had no idea that it would literally be on rails. But it is, and from the start to the finish you play the game locked into a rollercoaster cart, firing at your enemies from a seated position, with little in the way of freedom when it comes to movement, other than the occasional chance to shoot a switch that'll send you down a different set of tracks and have you shooting at a different set of targets.
Rush of Blood is a reminder of classic arcade shooters like Time Crisis and The House of the Dead, and if you're a fan of those types of games then you may well find something to like in this twisted offering. The bulk of the time you spend with it you're blasting away wildly while the undead and other strange creatures lurch towards you. The difference between this and the classic arcade shooters of yesteryear is the on-rails part of the equation, that here has you constantly moving through seven different levels, dodging environmental dangers, and blasting away at targets of all shapes and sizes.
You can play with either the Move controllers or the DualShock 4, and they actually offer completely different experiences. We preferred the controller, ironically because they're tethered together. With the DualShock both guns aim in the same direction, their line of fire running parallel to one another, but with a Move in each hand you're free to point your guns in any direction you see fit. Perhaps it was the greater freedom afforded by the Move controllers, but we felt like our accuracy dropped when using them and that we were hitting the target more frequently with the DualShock. It worked fine for us played both ways, though.
There's a lot to shoot. The whole thing is held together by a moody theme park wrapper, and from there you venture out into various twisted landscapes, rolling up and down ramps, lining up shots, ducking out of the way of deadly traps, and changing up your guns by shooting the weapon crates that litter the place.
Each location is peppered with targets; they're everywhere and if you're the type who likes to climb leaderboards or beat the best scores set by your friends, then there'll be some appeal to revisiting each level, upping the difficulty, and taking time to build up combos while staying on target as much as possible. In that respect there's replay value in this Until Dawn spin-off, because there's not just enemies to shoot, but there's little targets painted everywhere, as well as collectibles to snipe whenever you see them. If you like to do/collect everything then you'll get more out of Rush of Blood that most. However, this type of repeat play won't sit right with the casual crowd, most of whom will likely play it through once, maybe twice, and never return.
For those who pick this up simply for something to do with their new headset - it is a launch title after all - they'll discover a fairly limited shooter, but it's one that offers a few scares along the way. We won't lie, we did jump out of our seat once or twice, and one moment that we shan't spoil had us almost crap our pants because it was so unsettling, but these moments were the exception, not the rule. For the most part we were blasting away at stationary targets and soaking up the atmosphere, which was, admittedly, quite disturbing at times.
There's some intense moments for sure, usually at the end of a level when there's a set-piece (we wanted more moments like these). During these grand finales you have to aim accurately, reload efficiently (a button tap for each weapon on the DualShock, or by slinging the Move controllers backwards) and work out the sequence. There's a couple of tricky moments in there, but nothing that can't be overcome with persistence and accuracy.
One question that many people will be asking, especially those that played the PS4 adventure game from last year, is how this on-rails shooter ties into the fiction of the original. As you progress you'll see constant references to the first game, maybe even catching little snippets from the story out of the corner of your eye, playing out in side rooms as you pass. You'll even notice the names of the characters populating certain leaderboards. However, this isn't anywhere close to being a sequel to Until Dawn, rather it's an experience that runs alongside it, and that borrows a lot of imagery and the general horror theme, but takes it in a completely different direction.
But is it any good? Well, this is a tricky one, because there were elements that we didn't enjoy all that much, but a lot of that came down to the on-rails sections and the lack of meaningful interaction beyond the action of "point and shoot". However, we're aware that not everyone will feel that way. We wish that they'd stuck to and focused more on the shooting galleries and set pieces, because these are the moments that stuck in the mind, and at times we found ourselves having fun, firing furiously, at times desperately, trying to keep ourselves alive while all hell broke loose in front of us.
If you're after a VR shooter and you don't mind the on-rails treatment then consider Until Dawn: Rush of Blood more favourably than if you're just after a casual title to show off what the PSVR is capable of. There's some genuinely terrifying moments in there, but not enough for our liking, and despite a relatively short running time, by the end we found it hard to motivate ourselves for a return lap around this twisted rollercoaster ride.