Blues and Bullets Episode 1 is a the latest entry into a genre of video games which is growing in popularity, I’m talking of course about the episodic, story driven, point and click games made most famous by Telltale games. Developed by ‘A Crowd of Monsters’ this stylised, film noir story takes place in and around the time of Al Capone and offers an alternate history to the real life happenings. However the story itself while including Capone isn’t about him at all, instead it centers around retired detective Eliot Ness, once a member of the famous Untouchables who took down the notorious gangster. Now retired, Eliot Ness, take on a job which is linked to his final case which was never solved.
Episodic games like these very much live and die on the dialogue as gameplay mechanics always take a back seat to the narrative and for the first half hour of this game it felt like a slow death indeed. Dialogue equated to short, snappy sentences without much exposition, which left me feeling somewhat disconnected from the characters. However as the game progressed something rather wonderful happened, the gameplay mechanics took center stage. Firstly there is shootout, which to my suprise was actually fun to play considering i was expecting quick time events, although rather short it marked a point in the game where i felt it needed some injection of fun to grab my attention again. Secondly the detective part of the game started and this is where i feel the game stands out from other episodic games. While it is very much point and click you find yourself wondering about an open space, looking for clues and building a story board to discover how a rather digusting crime you stumbled upon happened. While containing a few gory scenes that the more squeamish may find off putting, it added an extra dimension to the game and certainly made me feel more connected to Detective Ness.
There are some rather dark themes in this game and it very much caters to a more mature audience. If you like the film Seven or Games such as L.A Noire this could be right up your street. Remember though this is only the first episode and clocking in at 2 hours to complete, i feel there is certainly more they could offer the player in terms of dialogue. Like i say the gameplay mechanics were what really stood out for me which is unusual for a game like this but that’s probably testament to the underwhelming character interaction as much as the interesting gameplay. I hope the next episode shows more of the human side of the characters and makes me care for them a bit more as the unfolding story looks like it could be interesting.
Overall its a bit of a slow burner, it starts off at a slow pace but has an interesting enough story to keep you playing. The gameplay mechanics are surprisingly fun the further you progress into the story and add interesting ways to keep you involved rather than just quick-time events or dialogue options although those are still very much a mainstay of the game. The actual dialogue is serviceable although like i mentioned lacking slightly, Hopefully as the episodes progress more dialogue is added to bring the characters to life a bit more. As far as the story decisions are concerned, they’re very much telegraphed to you on screen so you know when you’ve made a critical choice. I would certainly recommend picking this up to play should you be in need of something in between your episodic Telltale games. I feel the potential of a great game is there it just needs that little extra to make it that great new entry into the genre.
You can find the video review here: