Published on May 2nd, 2016 | by Justin Giza0
Blues And Bullets
We’re in the middle of an episodic renaissance and with the heavy hitters using existing properties, Blues and Bullets is using existing historical figures to give us a dark crime thriller. Set in an alternate timeline, the story follows Eliot Ness, famed leader of the Untouchables, the incorruptible group responsible for bringing down Al Capone’s bootlegging ring, as he’s living a quiet life running a diner.
The game opens up with a drastically different tone than I would have expected. For something that is billed as (and ultimately is!) a crime thriller, our first visuals are something straight out of Amnesia: Dark Descent. Terrified children locked in cages, hooded figures, torchlight and sacrificial tables are littered throughout a darkened cave. All visuals are presented in shades of grayscale and crimson, which lends itself very well to the atmosphere of the game.
It’s not until about ten minutes later that we start to piece together what’s happening here; According to several newspaper clippings and signs around town, children are going missing (and have been for a while), and Eliot Ness never solved the mystery.
This won’t be the only ghost that comes back to haunt Ness. A mysterious visitor to his diner brings him to the (still flying) Hindenburg which has been converted into a museum and luxury resort. It appears to be mostly mob-run, literally and figuratively above most law enforcement. Something about the visit to the Hindenburg gave me a fuzzy feeling akin to the first time I set foot in Bioshock’s Rapture. There’s something that feels really special setting foot in a piece of alternate history like this.
It turns out; Eliot’s incorruptibility is exactly what an older Al Capone is counting on. Out of prison, and looking a little worse for wear than his rival, Capone calls Eliot in to search for his kidnapped granddaughter. Even as his nemesis, Capone believes that only Eliot and his noble demeanor can be trusted to do what’s right and help solve the case. This is where the story of the game really starts to get rolling.
A lot of the gameplay is fairly standard for an episodic, heavily story-based game. Most cut scenes are thick with dialogue options that affect the course of the story. Between these, you’ll walk around and interact with the scenery and characters as you please, learning little bits and pieces about Ness’ backstory and his character. You’ll search for clues and work toward solving the dark mystery of the missing children. There’s a little bit of gunfire here and there, but it was fairly straightforward.
Some of the voice acting is great, and really lends itself to building the world of Blues and Bullets. Eliot Ness is voiced by Doug Cockle, who is probably best known in the video game world as the voice of Geralt from The Witcher. Sadly, within the first minutes of the game we’re also treated to awkwardly voiced children and a terrible cop who is all at once oddly animated, scripted and voiced. His placement is meant to showcase the difference between the retired Ness and the rest of the current police force – we see Ness’ nobility vs. the corruption of those in power. But such an oddity dropped into the middle of what has (thus far) been a pretty gritty build-up only took me out of the experience and broke up the momentum.
That said, I’m really excited to see what Blues and Bullets has to offer in the next few episodes. The first and second chapters are available for purchase now, and the game is playable on Window, Xbox One and PS4.
4 stars out of 5