Bow to Blood Review (PSVR)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
I love a good single player mode/campaign, but given the arena based setting off Bow to Blood I was surprised to see this game not take that multiplayer route, and focus on the single player element. The question is what this the right route to take by Tribetoy?
Firstly the game does take on a story, unfortunately using a popular go to idea in VR at the moment, that being a futuristic game show – used by games like Starblood Arena and Sprint Vector. In the game you are placed into the shoes and on to a ship owned by Freelancer, with the job of captaining this ship as you look for fame and fortune. Throughout the story you are going to come across a number of captains of different ships, as they shape the combat and arena for you – which becomes one of the most impressive parts of the gameplay.
As mentioned this all based in an arena, which will see you given a number of different tasks in order to progress through the that season of the game show. This will see you exploring collecting items to boost your points, taking down enemy ships and racing. All modes gaining you points on your performance, as you try to make sure you avoid the culling at the end of each show.
This is where all the other captains come into play and can mould the outcome of the standings or save you from elimination. It all depends on how you act through out the rounds and the way you treat them, so you need to make sure you are making friends or creating foes at the correct times. This part of the gameplay can make each seasons play-through completely different – do you go it alone? Make friends? Mix it up?… it really lets you mould each season to your liking. However, I must fire one huge warning at you, this game does use permadeath. Meaning it can be quite tense if you have made the wrong enemies and you are in the bottom two when the culling comes around – people votes really count at this point.
As well as making sure you make the best use out of each round to avoid the culling and managing your friends or enemies, you also have micro-managing to do on the ship itself. This includes commanding the two members of your crew to the required stations on the ship, and mixing up the power components in your ships special abilities – the more power blocks the longer they last and the quicker they recharge. Again having these selected correctly for the right rounds can just be as important to your survival as the other elements of the gameplay.
Given everything that you are managing, concentrating on and the way the friend and foe system works; I can truly say I am glad the team at Tribetoy focused on making this a single player game. The friend and foe systems really makes it so that multiplayer element is not missed. Also, if you are playing with friends or family or streaming online there is a companion app (currently on Android and PC) that allows up to 50 people help or hinder you in your game. If they chose to help they can drop in Sponsor Packs or hinder you by spawning in more enemies to make your task difficult. Which is a really nice touch and can make it more interesting.
When it comes to the visual style they have gone with a nice and clean cell-shaded look and it does a great job with this style – but it just feels like something is missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. Never mind this feeling what it does in the visual presentation area still keeps you immersed in these arenas and the game. The use of audio really is top-notch in the game when it comes to the guns, general atmosphere and voice over in the arenas. Then one issue that comes into play on the audio side is the over the top and excitable presenter of the game show – he just seems to start to grate on you after a short time
I found that when playing the game, I played it seated and found no benefit if playing while standing. The game can be played with both the DualShock or two Move controllers. I found that although the DualShock worked it just seemed a lot less suited to all the management needed in the game. This is completely different with Move controllers, once you have got used to the controls (because they can be fiddly at first), you will find they do a fantastic job. So, if you have the option between the two controller set-ups I would highly recommend the Move controllers.
As previously mentioned the game’s story plays out via an arena based game show, and if you survive to the end you are looking around four to five hours per season. Given that your really can keep returning and playing seasons with different AI captains as friend or foes, it really does give this game a huge amount of replay value – and giving you plenty of gaming time for the £24.99 price point.
Bow to Blood is one of these VR games you really don’t know you need until you have played it. Every element of the gameplay makes the game one of these you can keep going back to, especially the friend or foe system. Don’t let the fact the game does not have any multiplayer put you off, the team’s decision to focus on single player has really paid off. I would recommend not writing the game off and experiencing the great job Tribetoy has done. This really is one of the VR titles that has surprised me the most this year.
PlayStation VR Exclusive
Buy on the PlayStation Store