In the first episode of Blues and Bullets you play as Eliot Ness who is now spending his days working at his diner, when he is quickly thrown back into his bread and butter of detective work. This game is an episodic adventure game developed and published by A Crowd of Monsters, and the first episode being released Jul 23, 2015. As this is written the first episode of Blues and Bullets is now $4.99 on the Steam store; keep on your toes in this crime thriller where anything can happen.
The game centers on the city of Santa Esperanza, which is brimming with corruption. When you start up the game you are greeted by the main menu screen, from there go to the options then graphics to tweak the graphics to your preferred setting. You can set the resolution, make it full screen or windowed, and lastly change the quality and visual effects, depending on what you pick can make the game look better and/or perform better. This game has about three main colors: black, white and red. As you journey through Santa Esperanza, you will notice the different locations such as Eliot Ness’ diner, Al Capone’s mansion, and a blimp, so high in the sky it towers over the clouds. There are many characters in this game and all differ from one another. You got of course the main protagonist Eliot Ness, who dawns a trench coat as probably any classic crime solving detective would wear, Al Capone with his slicked hair and his gangster look, that gives off his bad guy vibe, of course this is just two of the many characters that bring this game to life, as you travel the A.I. change in design depending on where you are at in the game. In the blimp, the people around dress nice as if going to a casino, in the docks the crowd would garb in fisherman uniform or of clothing that would be fit to get dirty. There are animations for just about anything you can think of; from the sway of Eliot’s coat to the dialogue you have with another character, delivering life to the game.
AudioJazz is what sets the mood for this game. Every trumpet, saxophone, and piano plus the many more instruments give this crime thriller, a calm yet when it needs to, a more lively backdrop music for the game. From the footsteps as you walk around with Eliot Ness to the choices that you pick from the options presented to you there is audio tied to it, to carry even more life to the game. Every character in this game that you speak to is very distinguishable from one another so you never get confused. Some characters sound serious, some sound tired and others sound desperate, as scenes change, the delivery of the voice acting change in tone.
GameplayThis is a choice driven game. You can either play this game with a controller (like I did) or you can just use your mouse and keyboard, either is fine and is entirely up to you which you feel most comfortable playing with. You mostly will be engaging in conversation and be given choices to pick from in order to progress the story. At times you will also have to do a bit of walking to get to a certain objective point. It could be walking to get a piece of pie, or walking up to a character to speak to them, when it’s said and done walking is essential to progress the story. As you are continuing the story there are some points in the game that get a bit action oriented. With these action sequences all you got to do is shoot down enemies. As you are fighting you are sometimes given the option to change cover giving you some freedom in how you take down your opponents. Without spoiling there is also another gameplay feature at a point in the game which has you connecting pictures in order to solve a crime.
StoryLike I said previously this is a story/choice driven game. Everybody who plays this game may or may not make the same choices I made. With that being said everybody plays as Eliot Ness who is tossed back into the fray of crime solving. You go through his journey both in flashback and present day form to give story into who was and is the kind of many Eliot is. This game revolves around a series of children kidnappings and it's up to Eliot Ness to get to the bottom of things as it seems nobody is doing anything about the kids disappearing. There are minor choices that don’t really affect much, but depending on what you picked can give you positive or negative feedback. Then you have the “big” choices that can have a huge effect that could take effect in the current episode or potentially in later episodes. What you pick is up to you just keep in mind what choices you picked because they could have some dire consequences.
This game has also low replay value. I give this a low because this is a pretty linear experience aside from the choices you make. Of course you could always make a new save and make different choices, but aside from that everything else is narrow. You can’t explore aside from the area you are in, no extra mission or quest, no challenges, nothing aside from picking choices.
SummaryThe first episode of Blues and Bullets will leave you more question then answers and leave you wanting to play the next episode. First thing that comes to mind is the gameplay feature of having you shooting down Al Capone’s henchmen; I haven’t seen anything like it in a choice driven game and boy was it refreshing. The controls and gameplay for the section felt really nice, from the cover to getting those one shot kill head shots, it was really swell to play through. The choices in this game I felt didn’t matter at least for now. Remember this is an episodic game, but I really didn’t see any of my choices take effect yet. The atmosphere, the setting, the black and white visuals for the game is really befitting for this game because of it noir style take on this game; although the graphics were a little subpar, some of the textures and designs looked crummy. The music in this game I thought is captured really well in the era of this game. The voice acting I thought was proper for the characters and didn’t feel out of place. I will say the lip sync was a bit off and kind of annoying, but overall didn’t really take away from my experience. The story wasn’t that bad, but like I said the choices didn’t matter at least for now, but that doesn’t mean the game didn’t have those jaw dropping moments and the interesting setups for the next episode of this game. This game has so, so much potential and I can see it get better as each episode goes by. I recommend this game to anybody who likes story driven games, who like making choices in there games, and likes crime thrillers. Also a shout out to Doug Cockle for making Eliot Ness sound a lot like Geralt of Rivia (It really does sound like Geralt but it fits Eliot as well).
- Unique gameplay elements
- Black and white style visuals
- Setup for next episode
- Choices don't really matter
- Lip sync