Blues and Bullets is an episodic adventure game with stunning noir style art. You play as Elliot Ness, a retired policeman looking for a quiet life behind the counter of his diner. Despite serving a mean blueberry pie, you soon realise there’s more to Ness’ past than a plain old retired cop. As the former leader of the Untouchables, his past comes back to haunt him and he’s forced to take on a new case. To give you a taste of what lays before him: kidnapped children, occult, the mafia, the Hindenburg and the one and only Al Capone. In this review we’ll take a look at episode one, subtitled The End Of Peace.
If the name Elliot Ness didn’t ring a bell, that last one surely will. An awful lot of research brings to life these real characters from Chicago’s darker past and I think the creators do them real justice despite being alternate history versions of themselves.. Mix these imposing characters with morbid storylines painted black, white and red and it’s like stepping into the scene of Sin City. The difference is we’re in Santa Esperanza and the Chicago Outfit run the show.
Unlike some other adventure games, Blues and Bullets forces you to think about what’s happening. The crime scene investigation style is something that stood out for me in the game. You’re given a framework but the who, what, where and why is all down to you. It’s satisfying to do the work for yourself and not just rely on the game to explain it all for you. During conversation there’s also multiple choice options which affects the NPCs reactions towards you. There’s also a smattering of QTEs throughout the episode, although not enough to become a frustration.
As touched upon earlier, the art style of Blues and Bullets deserves special mention. The graphics are displayed in monochromatic tones with vivid slashes of bright red spotted throughout. It’s a perfect fit for a game with themes of the mafia and the occult and set within this era. Similarly, the score is well matched.
I have two minor gripes with the game. The first is that the handful of shooting scenes in the game feel shoehorned in. It’s a completely different playstyle to the mysterious and well paced investigation, it just doesn’t fit well. Despite unwieldy controls during these segments, it was almost impossible to be killed by the opposing shooters. I stood in a shower of bullets and survived, then killed by enemies with a single shot. I’d rather they were more of a challenge or simply left out altogether.
The other gripe is that at times, it feels like the camera motion has a mind of it’s own. Ness walks one way and the camera goes the other and it gets frustrating. Perhaps that was down to my approach to the game; wanting to explore every scene in full rather than running straight for the objective.
All things considered, The End Of Peace has piqued my interest, and I’m looking forward to exploring the next episode and finding out what becomes of Ness. The gorgeous art style and investigation gameplay make outweigh my complaints regarding gunplay and camera angles. I’ve also had to curb my curiosity to read more about the real life Ness to stop me reading any potential spoilers for episode two!
My parting sentence has to be this; don’t skip the credits. Good things await for you there.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 7/10 Format: Xbox One/PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Blues & Bullets by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of seven days. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.