The genre of episodic adventure games has really blown up in the last few years, mainly thanks to TellTale Games leading the charge. But, we’ve had other studios now jumping into the fray and are giving us great stories to play and take control of, one such studio is A Crowd of Monsters with their episodic noir Blue and Bullets which is their take on Elliot Ness (you know the guy that formed the Untouchables).
Blues and Bullets has a very familiar gameplay style that has been used for most episodic games that have come out, which is not a bad thing as the rule of ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ applies. You’ll spend most of your time walking around each area being able to interact with objects that will either add some more substance to the story or are needed to progress to the next area and plot point. At times the controls can feel a bit clunky and I’ve noticed some skipping and frame rate issues when transitioning from a scene to you regaining control of Elliot. The main frustration I had with the gameplay was when it came time to engage enemies in combat, shooting leaves a lot to be desired for improvements as I noticed hit detection was an issue. At times I would clearly aim at an enemies head and would notice that my shot would be off to the right or left by a good amount, and other times a shot to the chest would be counted as a headshot (those situations I wouldn’t complain about personally).
The best gameplay element that really made me feel like a detective was investigating a crime scene, as you walk around gathering clues there is a ‘board’ you can access which resembles those old school detective case boards with string connecting suspects and motives. With the clues you gather you muse piece together various areas that range from ‘was someone else here?’ or ‘how did the suspect get in?’ and if you properly place the clues those questions will be answered as well as unlock more areas of the board and new questions to try and solve.
Story and Modes:
Episode 1: The End of Peace does a great job at introducing Elliot Ness to those who are unfamiliar with the detective’s life and story, ranging from the arrest of Al Capone to how he handled life after retiring from the force. The game gives you flashbacks to his confrontation with Capone and lets you make some decisions that not only will change the game’s story but also how history would remember things. Now, the one thing I will say is that while Elliot Ness was a real person he was made famous from The Untouchables novels and other forms of media which have been heavily fabricated and filled with fiction to have a sort of mass appeal. The game also adds some demonic and supernatural elements (at least I would presume that from the opening and closing scenes of the game). All story related spoilers will be in my season review as with most games like this it is tough to talk about the story without giving away any detail.
I will say this though, the game looks great, it really captures the noir genre with not only the black and white but keeping the only real color shown red was a good touch as Blues and Bullets had a real Sin City meets Dick Tracy feel to it. And while visuals are somewhat important the voice acting and music really tied everything all together for this game.