BLUES AND BULLETS

PrintE-mail Written by Callum Shephard

Some games serve to set the bar, raising standards higher than ever before and becoming the title all future releases of its genre should be measured against. If Blues and Bullets keeps up the quality and intensity of this first episode, it could easily become this for the episodic, narratively-driven titles Telltale Games made famous.

Set in an alternate universe similar to our own, the story follows Elliot Ness, the detective who brought down Al Capone. Jaded and several years into his retirement from police work, he receives a call from an unexpected source. Children in the city are being abducted, and Ness is the only one who can be trusted to follow the trail of blood left in their wake…

The presentation of Blues and Bullets is gritty, stylised and utterly fantastic in every possible way. Favouring the Sin City approach to visuals, everything is told through shades of grey and black with occasional splash of colour. Rapidly setting the scene, it goes hand in hand with the outstanding soundtrack which perfectly developing the tone of its environments, all of which are Noir to the core. Orientalism, the docks and high rising palaces all make an appearance, as do many societal cues of the era.

The ever-essential writing is brilliantly delivered here, developing at a methodical pace. The first episode is primarily setting the scene rather than adding as many fight sequences as it can, and is setting up for a slow burn. The drama here doesn’t stem from fast paced chases so much as it does character interactions and murder scene investigations; the latter of which is one of the best examples of piecing together a crime scene in gaming to date. This isn’t to say that the game lacks combat, however, as proven in an extraordinarily violent firefight at the midway point of the story.

Unfortunately, there are a few flaws which hold this one back from absolute greatness. While the environments are fantastic and prove to be far less static than many other games of its genre, the camera often works against you, sending Ness stumbling into a table or person. In addition, the uneven frame-rate and small visual signals makes QTE combat a nightmare at times, though it’s thankfully used sparingly. Even without that, minor visual issues such as the limited facial animation are often extremely distracting in the wrong lighting, ruining one critical scene.

Still, at its price of £3.99 this is an absolute bargain. Even if you’re still working your way through Life is Strange and Game of Thrones, this is an essential purchase. Definitely pick this one up the first chance you get.

BLUES AND BULLETS – EPISODE 1 / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: A CROWD OF MONSTERS / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (PC), TBC (PC)
 


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