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Blues and Bullets

Score: 78%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: A Crowd of Monsters
Developer: A Crowd of Monsters
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle (Hidden Object)/ Themed/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Whatís black and white and read all over? No, not a newspaperÖ Spanish developer A Crowd of Monstersí newest release for the Xbox One. Visually set in a film noir style, Blues and Bullets pulls gamers back to the days of prohibition and beyond. The game features only monotone visuals for the most part, set in typically dark and eerie locations. Anything important in the game, however, revolves around the color red as it does the job to set the mood for invoking emotion, whether it is love, hate, or anger. Coincidentally, red is also the color of blood, and there is plenty of it in the first episode of this 5-game episodic, along with just a bit of stomach-churning creepiness.

The player and NPC models are, for the most part, quite well done, although the darkness of the gameís lighting does tend to occlude details that you may expect from most titles today. Environments also look good and hold a fair amount of detail that actually requires longer than expected load times between scenes.

Blues and Bullets actually centers on the dialogue and cut scenes more than any sort of heavy action and gameplay. As such, the ambience of the background music (and limited sound fx) helps carry the eeriness of some environments. The voice acting is actually quite well done for the most part, and does help drive the story. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by the facial animations, but it didnít distract too much in the grand scheme of things.


Gameplay:

Blues and Bullets is a VERY loose account of the later years of Untouchables leader Eliot Ness. Approximately set in the late 1940s (by my best guess based on the timelines presented vs. real-life facts), Eliot is no longer a cop but instead runs a small 50s-style diner (remember I did mention "loosely"). There we learn he is still connected with the police department and is, in fact, in touch with an uncorrupted rookie that he trusts. At the diner, a familiar face approaches with a job, and thatís where our story begins.

Without throwing out too many spoilers in the storyline, Eliot confronts an old gangster foe whose granddaughter happens to have gone missing with a slew of other kids. The detective within him comes out, and soon Eliot is on the hunt for the scum that has been kidnapping children in the Santa Esperanza area.

Blues and Bullets is essentially a mix between games like The Walking Dead and a typical crime drama. Navigation through the many scenes in the first episode includes a lot of dialogue where you control Eliotís interactions and decisions. Sometimes a quick response is necessary, but more often than not, there isnít much riding on which response is triggered as the game is quite linear. The environments are all essentially point A to point B with very little diversion, and the character interactions are more of the same. Like other games in the genre, there are a small handful of game interactions that are actually saved so hopefully (or should I say, I suspect that) later episodes rely on these decisions to make a difference. It would be a drastic difference though, as they really didnít seem to affect anything within Episode 1. One of the main aspects of the first episode, aside from background story, is that Eliot is able to search a crime scene and try to piece things together in his hunt for the perpetrator(s).


Difficulty:

Blues and Bullets really isnít a hard game to get into at all, and anybody could really pick up and play it in the blink of an eye. The game will likely appeal to history buffs as much as hard core gamers, although it will likely feel a bit slow to the latter. Most of the interactions are at your own pace with only a couple of instances where reflexes do matter. In instances where there may be a fight scene, some specific key presses are involved, but really are nothing major. Donít expect a fighting game simulation in any regard here. The point is that even non-gamers would be able to get through these bits and still enjoy the rest of the gameís up points and storyline.

Game Mechanics:

Playing as Eliot Ness, most of Blues and Bullets is a slow-paced exploratory of a fantasy world revolving on true to life characters with no real straying from a directed path. Simple controls to move the character around and button presses that are given with on-screen prompts are the norm and control most of what gamers will encounter. Probably the most complicated move for non-gamers would be the occasional aiming and shooting that goes on, but it should also be noted that those used to such things will find the controls extremely basic.

Overall, Blues and Bullets was a different take on the prohibition saga that surrounded Eliot Ness and the storyline is so loose it would probably make a few people turn over in their graves. That said, the story was interesting enough to keep the gameplay driving in a positive direction. Given that this is the first of 5 in an episodic game series, it will be interesting to see where the series turns. I have high hopes, but only time will tell if this turns out to be a great set of titles or a series put on a pedestal it didnít deserve.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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