When it comes to virtual reality, Sony’s London Studio has been at the forefront of pushing the technology.
The team created a stunning demo when PlayStation VR was first announced as Project Morpheus. That piece of software turned into “The London Heist” on the “PlayStation VR Worlds” collection. It was an inventive experience that ran players through a theft and subsequent car chase, highlighting gameplay that was both intuitive but clever.
The developer’s upcoming title, “Blood & Truth,” takes the ideas from “The London Heist” and expands it into a full-blown game. Players take on the role of Ryan, who is a soldier who ends up neck deep in underground crime.
As Ryan, I was tasked with tracking a guy named Keach who had some info that I needed. That led me to sneaking into a hotel and casino.
The first thing I noticed when donning the PSVR was the environment. It was gorgeous and a step up from the usual fare. Part of the reason was that the demo was running on a PlayStation 4 Pro and the other was the creativity of the team. They know how to use sound and lighting to create a convincing space.
The second notable element was how London Studio handled movement. Using two PlayStation Move controllers, players point and click to walk to a predesignated spot in the environment. The X and Circle buttons served to strafe left and right to predesignated spots.
The environment has some interactivity but much of the gameplay focused on two things cover and stealth. In the main part of the stage, Ryan sneaks into the casino while thugs look for him. As part of the plan to corner Keach for an interrogation, players have to set up C4 around the slot machines.
They actually have to slap a C4 charge on the machine and arm it using a series of simple motions. It feels natural and doesn’t need much instruction. Players have to keep an eye on the armed men and move when their heads are turned. Eventually, players have to engage the enemy and that’s when the cover-based mechanics shine.
It’s reminiscent of the desk scene in “The London Heist.” Players hide behind slot machines and roulette tables and they pop out when they see an opening to return fire. Some of them toss grenades, and instinctively, players can grab and toss them back. The addition of strafing in cover creates a strategic element as players look for angles and flanking opportunities.
Armed with a silenced pistol, Ryan doesn’t have much in terms of firepower. In this midrange combat, a couple of well-placed shots is enough to kill an enemy. I reloaded a couple of times and that entails grabbing the virtual bullets at my waist and pushing the cartridge in the gun. Again, it’s intuitive and adds another layer of immersion to the experience.
After clearing the casino floor, the combat continues into the hotel hallways, where players will be taking cover in narrow spaces. This is when peeking around door jambs becomes important.
Surprisingly, “Bood & Truth” has elements other than combat. To locate Keach, players have to hack into a security camera console. They’ll track him by manipulating the cameras through a joystick and switchboard. Eventually, they’ll track him to Room 53.
The variety of gameplay dictated by the narrative ensures the campaign doesn’t get boring. Seemingly to make sure of that, London Studio finishes off the demo with a foot chase through the hotel. Ryan is pursuing Keach and he has to gun down his guards. It’s an action-packed sequence on rails but it has a remarkable intensity as players run down hallways and dining rooms.
All of this has a John Wick feel as players have to efficiently kill the bad guys with head shots or gunfire to the chest. It ends in an interesting interrogation that shows some player choice involved in the game, but it doesn’t seem to impact the narrative too much as Keach is saved by an army of men forcing Ryan to jump out a window.
It’s a thrilling finish to what could be one of the better PlayStation VR games coming out in the future.