Bow to Blood is a PlayStation VR game set in the far-off future that has you assume control of an airship as well as its captain, and you are tasked to compete in a series of arena-based events in order to win glory. Developer Tribetoy has designed it like a competitive sport, where you go up against seven other AI challengers that boast unique personalities and traits of their own.
You’ll be given different objectives to complete within the arena, and your AI combatants will be trying to beat you to it. These objectives range from finding specific treasure to racing against other combatants, all while also engaging others when necessary in classic ship vs ship battles. The latter is where things get exciting.
Competing objectives and eliminating threat gets you points, which are tallied against the points earned by your combatants. Based on the resultant leaderboard, the two lowest scorers are put up for elimination with the help of votes from other combatants. The one with the highest votes get eliminated, and the cycle repeats itself every round until the champion of the Bow to Blood contest is declared. The arena layout itself is procedurally generated each round, so things remain unpredictable and tense.
In some ways, Bow to Blood feels like a cross between Rare’s Sea of Thieves and Starblood Arena. There’s plenty of management to be done, with you at the helm and a control panel in front of you depicting power statistics for the ship’s key defenses, namely the shield, drones, weapons, and boost. You decide when it’s right to assign more power resources to a particular defense system, in turn enhancing its effectiveness. You’ll also need to manually assign roles to your ship crew and shuffle between duties based on the requirements at hand. During battles, when things get out of hand, you’ll also need to take out your personal pistol to deal with on-board infiltrators. These mechanics add a whole layer of strategy to an otherwise straightforward arena shooter.
The mid-round metagame is also interesting in its own right. You’ll find yourself in the captain’s room, where you’ll get visits from captains of rival ships. Depending on how you respond to them during a conversation, you’ll be able to create new alliances or enemies. These conversations can be about striking a deal to take out another rival, trading points for in-battle benefits, or testing your morality. Of course, alliances can also be broken during rounds, should you choose to not hold your part of the bargain. Though, this reflects in the post-round voting, should you end up being one of the bottom two combatants in the leaderboard.
As far as comfort goes, the default settings are likely to give you the VR equivalent of seasickness. Simply turning the ship around can cause some dizziness. It’s good to see, then, that the game does provide some comfort options, which help to an extent. Of course, the extent of VR discomfort varies from player to player, but it’s probably not the best effort when compared to the more advanced comfort options found in other recent PlayStation VR games. Luckily, rounds are short enough to for this to not be a major hurdle.
The game isn’t exceptional in the audiovisual department, but it gets the job done, thanks mainly to a distinct art style that gives light-hearted dystopian vibes. On the other hand, characters lose some of their personality due to the lack of voice-overs for most dialogues.
Bow to Blood makes a worthwhile effort at simulating a VR airship warfare experience. It has a surprising amount of mechanical depth and feels fun to play for as long as motion sickness doesn’t kick in. It’s a good thing, then, that rounds aren’t too lengthy and appropriately paced for VR tolerance.
Bow to Blood Review (PSVR)
Game Reviewed on: PSVR
Game description: Captain your airship to victory in Bow to Blood, a VR experience where you compete in deadly battles, high-speed races, and wars of wits.
Final Score - 7.5/10
Bow to Blood makes a worthwhile effort at simulating a VR airship warfare experience that comes with a surprising amount of mechanical depth.