Review: Blues and Bullets (PS4)

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Title: Blues and Bullets
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2.12 GB)
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: A Crowd of Monsters
Developer: A Crowd of Monsters
Original MSRP: $4.99 per Episode / $7.99 Episode 1 & 2 Bundle
ESRB Rating: M
Blues and Bullets is also available on Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
If substance and atmosphere alone was worth 100% of a score for a game, then Blues & Bullets would be a perfect 10. Unfortunately, a lot more goes into judging a game. The bright side is that this PlayStation 4 adventure game (ala King’s Quest and The Walking Dead) still has some interesting gameplay to keep that Sin City noir atmosphere from being the only thing worth talking about here.

It plays like a traditional adventure game. You look for items, clues, and solve puzzles. But it does mix things up with some gunplay, complete with a cover system, that controls more like an on-rails shooter.

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You don’t actually move your character around during gun fights. Instead, your trigger automatically leans him out, allowing you plenty of time to take aim. I didn’t really mind this, since this isn’t supposed to be Uncharted.

There are some light exploration elements and an intriguing story about a retired hard-boiled detective, Eliot Ness, who’s searching for Al Capone’s kid. The game even starts with the perspective of the kidnapped children.

… enough to keep your interest up …
As you move further in the narrative, you discover more about Ness’ past with Capone and the bitter rivalry that leads to the fated confrontation.

Blues & Bullets is an episodic game, much like a lot of the recent adventure entries. So the entire story is not told in this first episode. But what is told here is enough to keep your interest up for the follow up episode.

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Visuals:
The game is beautiful to look upon, if not perfect. It’s not technically a triple-A game, but it certainly captures that extreme noir look, with crushed blacks and shadows taking up as much screen real estate as whites.

Character models are adequate for a game of this type, and while the environments emulate the look of 1950s black and white cinema, the selective colors give the whole thing that previously-mentioned Sin City look. The character animations are subpar at best, which only stands out because the rest of the game looks so damn attractive.

… part of the game’s charm …
Audio:
Voice acting is, I’m assuming, purposefully over the top. You know, it’s that detective story where the main character narrates himself, and everyone speaks a bit less like true conversation and more like a rehearsed stage play.

I truly believe that it’s part of the game’s charm. Once you get wrapped up in the storyline, you tune out the acting. It’s not terrible by any stretch. It simply doesn’t always carry the emotion of the scene.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

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Conclusion:
Blues & Bullets hit a particular chord with me. While the entire story does not unfold in this first episode, it does a great job setting up the second episode while providing sufficient moments within its prelude to make for a great experience.

It’s not as polished as other adventure titles I’ve played, but I’m judging it based on its price point and entertainment value. If you have been enjoying the healthy dose of adventure games we’ve been getting, then put this one on your list.

As far as the first episode is concerned, this one brings a new atmosphere and style to the genre.

Score:
score-tbd

Due to recent policy changes we will not give a final score to episodic content until all parts have been released.

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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