Until Dawn was a surprise hit for a lot of people. A horror version of the interactive story games that have been popular of late, Until Dawn saw eight friends try to survive in a house under assault by a mysterious killer. One of these eight is Josh, a man who has some clear mental problems as a result of some traumatic events in his life. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is a spin-off loosely tied to the main game that details Josh’s mental breakdowns prior to the game. Does this on-rails shooter have much to offer, or should you keep the blood calm?
While Rush of Blood is supposed to detail Josh’s mental breakdown, there’s not much here in the way of in-game story. You play as Josh as he starts off in what appears to be an average carnival ride, and what turns into a strange horror freak show the longer it goes on. Josh is accompanied by a strange carnival host who doesn’t quite appear to be all that he seems, and is constantly seeing visions of his missing sisters and the psychopath who attacked the group at the lodge. A lot of the story won’t really mean much of anything to people who haven’t played Until Dawn, and even if you have there’s still not much here. There are some implications that Josh was abused by the medical system, but outside of that, there’s very little actual content to the story. Almost all of it is implications and symbolism, which some people may dig, but meant little to me.
Rush of Blood is an on-rails shooter where you’ll be using two guns to battle various monsters attacking you. The game can be played with either two Move controllers or the Dualshock. Like many games that allow you to choose, the two Move controllers is really the better choice. They allow you to aim the guns independently of each other, compared to the Dualshock which keeps you aiming at the same spot. It’s still a totally valid way to play, but you do lose something without the Move controllers.
As you sit in the mine cart you’ll move along a track. You do, however, get to pick which track you take at times. Sometimes the choice is as obvious as shooting a sign post that lets you go left or right, other times it requires destroying barriers which block a specific track. There’s more than enough variation that you have to play through Rush of Blood several times if you want to see everything, which is a good sign. A playthrough takes about an hour, so it’s not too hard to get through the game, though you can also just select your favorite levels if that’s more your style.
Enemies are constantly attacking you from all sides, requiring you to pay attention to your surroundings. Aiming and shooting at them is simple, with a flashlight on each gun serving as an idea on where you’re shooting. The flashlights turn red to also indicate when you have no ammo, allowing you quickly reload by either hitting a button or shaking the controller. I don’t suggest the latter, as that often did nothing other than throw off aim. While the game is based on Until Dawn, Rush of Blood‘s enemies are rather standard on-rails shooter fare. You’ll run into zombies, clowns that act like zombies, people wearing pig heads that act like zombies, and other variations of people that act like zombies. It’s a bit of a shame, as Until Dawn had nothing at all to do with zombies so I don’t understand the overabundance of them in Rush of Blood.
Later in the game, the enemies begin to get a little more unique, but most of them still either just run at you to hit you or stay afar and spit blobs of acid or throw Molotov cocktails at you. Giant spiders, mannequins that only move when you’re not looking at them, and weird head-spiders that look like they came right out of The Thing is the order of the day here. To help fight these monsters you can find item boxes that, when shot, give you a new gun in the hand that shot it. Sawed-off shotguns, uzis, revolvers, and flare guns make up the set of guns you’ll be getting, and they all help make the game more exciting.
While the normal monsters may feel repetitive, Rush of Blood‘s boss fights are all real treats. A madhouse literally has a life of its own, as you keep firing at a giant exposed beating heart behind a double door while a ghostly woman summons murders of crows to keep you away from it. Later a trip to a hospital sees a strange nurse, one who moves faster than you can track, constantly move in to attack you, only able to be stopped by hitting her in those brief moments she’s swinging her weapon. My favorite had to be the confrontation with Until Dawn‘s psychopath. Entirely taking place in a hallway where you slowly move backward while he advances at a quicker pace, your goal is less to hurt him and more to constantly put bullets into him to slow his advance until you can find something to hurt him with. It’s an extremely tense fight, and easily the highlight of the game.
Whether you’re killing enemies or bosses, your goal is ultimately to keep your score up and your multiplier going. Rush of Blood makes sure you always have something to shoot at, often in the form of destructible objects in the environment. Hitting these will keep your score moving up, and stop the multiplier from dropping. If you’re looking to shoot for the highest score then you’ll need to be paying close attention. Even if you’re not, the scoring aspect of the game can totally be ignored. After all, the environment poses just as much of a threat as enemies do. You’ll have to lean and duck out of the way of saws and planks of wood blocking the tracks, adding an extra entertaining factor to your rides.
As much fun as I had with Rush of Blood, it all came crumbling down during the almost shockingly bad final level. Featuring an unnecessary difficulty spike thanks to swarming the screen with more enemies than I could really deal with, and ending with a boss that can one hit kill you if you don’t perfectly counter the pattern it feels like I was supposed to memorize beforehand. All of this is wrapped around a bizarre stage that I’m entirely unsure what it has to do with the rest of the game, a strange “maybe it was all a dream! (but maybe not)” twist, and a boss that leans more towards hilarious than horrifying. It’s made worse that the scene before this stage, where you’re trapped in a slowly descending elevator where the Wendigos from Until Dawn latch onto the walls and ceiling desperately trying to reach for you, is easily the best in the game.
While the last stage is a stinker, especially on anything related to being scary, Rush of Blood does a pretty good job with both horror and being visually interesting before that. By creatively using simple audio and visual cues to cause you to turn your head how the game wants, you’ll often be subject to some well-made scares. This is helped by the fact that Rush of Blood is also a nice looking game, mostly thanks to using assets from the main game. The sound design was equally impressive, with sound effects genuinely sounding just as scary as I would expect. A room full of saw blades and decapitated pigs comes to life in a genuinely exciting way, the squealing of terrified pigs and whirring of machinery giving it a real impressive feel.
While fans of Until Dawn may be disappointed that Until Dawn: Rush of Blood has little to nothing to do with the main game, it’s still a fun on-rails shooter. It delivers some great boss fights and genuine scares wrapped around a good environment. Hopefully, a little more can be done to make sure any future on-rails shooters from Supermassive Games won’t suffer from repetitive enemies and terrible final levels.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood may have almost nothing to do with the base game, but it's a genuinely fun on-rails shooter that shows off some great boss fights and scary moments.
- Fantastic Sound Design
- Great Boss Fights
- Genuine Scares
- Fun Shooting and Dodging Gameplay
- Plot Tenuous Connection With Until Dawn
- Terrible Final Level
- Reptitive Enemies