Until Dawn: Rush of Blood features a haunting atmosphere and plenty of scares, but the experience is hampered by a constant need to calibrate the hardware.
2015’s Until Dawn was a surprise hit for Sony, and its strong sales equated to a new horror franchise for the PlayStation brand. While some fans are holding out for a direct sequel to the original game, they can whet their appetite in the meantime with Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, an on-rails shooter that plays nothing like the original, but has a similar atmosphere and features some of the same enemies and locations.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood consists of seven rollercoasters, each with their own spooky theme, like haunted carnival, haunted hotel, etc. The tracks take players through familiar Until Dawn locales to contend with some returning baddies (like the masked serial killer from the first game) as well as new threats, like Molotov-flinging psychopaths and giant spiders that wouldn’t be out of place in a Resident Evil game. Players are given an extensive arsenal of handguns, grenade launchers, and more to deal with these enemies, and when the game functions properly, it’s one of the most effective on-rails shooters out there. Unfortunately, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood doesn’t always function properly.
In fact, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood requires near-constant calibration of the PlayStation VR hardware, and the only way to calibrate it properly requires players to completely close out of the game and restart it. What happens is when players die on the track while going around a curve, they respawn slightly off-center. This keeps happening for each subsequent death, until players are required to turn all the way to their left just to see what is going on. Trying the usual tricks to recenter the picture doesn’t work, so players are forced to restart and lose all of their progress for that particular coaster.
These irritating PlayStation VR headset calibration issues only seem to appear after dying on a curve, but Until Dawn: Rush of Blood has other calibration problems as well, pertaining to the PlayStation Move controllers. For one reason or another, extended play sessions result in the PlayStation Camera sometimes confusing which Move controller is in which hand, and what direction they’re pointing. The result is players having to twist their arms like contortionists just to aim at the enemies properly, making it much more difficult to survive. Before too long, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is in such dire need of calibration that it is almost unplayable.
On the bright side, each rollercoaster is relatively short, so if one loses progress, it’s minutes, not hours’ worth, alleviating some of the frustration when calibration is needed. Furthermore, since the biggest calibration problem (the off-center problem) seems to only rear its ugly head when players die at very specific sections of the track, it’s basically a nonissue for those that are skilled at the game, making subsequent playthroughs much more enjoyable. To get around the PlayStation Move calibration issues, players can use the DualShock 4 to play, but it’s just not as fun.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood‘s calibration problems are rather severe, but at the same time, there’s still enough positive qualities about the game. For one, it is genuinely scary, transporting players to some rather unnerving locations, and bombarding them with jump scares. Being overwhelmed by enemies is an experience made much more terrifying by PlayStation VR, and even the bravest gamers will likely leave Until Dawn: Rush of Blood with a few goosebumps.
Something else Rush of Blood has going for it is its replay value. It’s a very short experience (with a budget price to match), but players are free to select from any of the coasters, so they can relive their favorite moments as much as they’d like. Each level is filled with collectibles, Easter Eggs, and secrets for players to find, along with branching paths that encourage replayability.
Rush of Blood, like the great Batman: Arkham VR, is also a game that serves as a good way to show off the potential of PlayStation VR. Calibration issues notwithstanding, Rush of Blood succeeds at making players feel like they are actually on a rollercoaster in some hellish theme park, and that alone may make it worth suffering through the technical difficulties for some gamers.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood nails the immersion factor that is so important with virtual reality games, and it also delivers solid on-rails shooting gameplay. It’s packed with scares, along with intriguing locations and characters, adding up to an engrossing, atmospheric first-person horror experience while it lasts. Hardware calibration issues keep it from reaching its full potential, but it should provide at least a few hours of entertainment for gamers looking for something creepy to play this Halloween.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is available now, exclusively for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. Game Rant reviewed the game on PS4.