Blues and Bullets is an episodic alternative history noir game developed by A Crowd of Monsters. The first episode was released in July 2015 with the second due to be released in March of 2016.
Gameplay takes place in third person as you control Eliot Ness, the police officer who caught and locked up the great, Al Capone. Eliot has now retired from being a cop and runs his own diner, called Blues and Bullets. This game reminded me quite a bit of L.A Noire as you search for clues for a crime. There is only one crime scene to investigate in this episode but it is a gruesome one at that. There is a small element of gun play, which is very basic at best; it is done via an “on rails” mechanic similar to that of Time Crisis or Blue Estate. The gun play so far has a very small part to play in the game overall.
Graphically, the game is represented in a black and white noir style visual. This art style just looks awesome, whilst the graphics themselves aren’t stunningly good, the black and white tricks your eyes into thinking it is better looking than it actually it. The animation is slightly on the poor side, but nothing that can’t be ignored. Eliot is voiced by none other than Doug Cockle (the voice of Geralt from the Witcher franchise), and the rest of the voice acting is all done to a very high quality.
I was completely hooked onto the story right from the start of the game, there isn’t a slow ramp in excitement like most adventure games like this, and you get right into the nitty-gritty from the get-go. The ending of episode 1 leaves you wanting more as the plot takes a huge turn of events. There are plans for there to be another 4 episodes released, I am hoping they speed up the development cycle of them, as I think 9 months between episodes is a bit too much in my opinion.
There isn’t any aspect of difficulty in episode 1, the only real puzzle can be completed with just a matter of trial and error and the gun play scenes have checkpoints at every corner so even if you do die, you don’t have to replay a whole lot of content. I am looking forward to see how they make the gameplay elements of this game have more of a challenge in future episodes.
Episode 1 took me just about two hours to complete; this was with finding all intractable objects throughout the scenes to get an achievement. I found out at the end of the chapter, that finding all of these objects unlocks a “Bobble head” mode, which is always a classic cheat mode that used to be included in game. It will be interesting to see whether you can activate this mode in future episodes or whether it is only to be used in episodes you have already completed!
Sadly I did have a couple of technical problems with Blues and Bullets. I suffered two random crashes of the game that took me straight back to desktop, with no error message or warnings. There were no signs that the game was suffering performance issues, it did only happen when completing a scene, never mid gameplay. Thankfully the game saves at the end of each scene you complete, but this does leave room for game save file corruption. The game can be played with keyboard and mouse; normally for third person view games I opt for a keyboard and mouse controls, especially ones with any form of gunplay, sadly I could not do it with Blues and Bullets. Firstly the onscreen controls do not show any keyboard controls; only Xbox controls. Secondly, the cursor in game has a fairly big glitch where it just shows as a blank white square. You have to move your cursor to the bottom right hand corner of the screen for it not to be visible even when using a controller.
To sum up, Blues and Bullets is so far a very interesting adventure game that has a lot of potential. Hopefully the technical problems are cleaned up before the next release of the series comes out. If you are a fan of the Noire themed films and games, this game is definitely going to be for you. It’s a fairly quick paced game which is something that a lot of adventure games can’t boast about so even the casual players amongst you will definitely get some enjoyment here.
If you are on the fence about the game still, you can purchase just episode 1 for £3,99 which should give you a good amount of content to see whether you will enjoy the rest of the series, provided the developers don’t change it drastically or you can purchase the complete season for £14,99. Right now I would be completely happy paying £14,99 for this season, it does a lot of things right and the only negative points are technical problems which will hopefully be patched in the future.