Blues and Bullets Review – PC/Xbox One

The new episodic adventure, Blues and Bullets, released on PC last month and now it has made its way to the Xbox One in a surprisingly lossless port to console. This exhilarating and often sinister adventure takes place in a unique Sin City-style world of black and white with splashes of red to accent the environments and follows an alternate universe/timeline story of Eliot Ness and Al Capone, both before and after the legendary crime boss went to jail. In this world Eliot has retired from law enforcement and now runs a local diner. Al Capone has just finished serving a 20-year prison term and is back on the street, but rather than seeking revenge on Eliot, he hires the sleuth to track down his missing granddaughter.

It seems a lot of kids are going missing; something that is horrifically clear from the opening moments of the game that shows us several children locked away in a subterranean prison being run by some cult leader in a horrific ceremonial headdress right out of Temple of Doom. We have no idea why they are kidnapping kids or what they are doing with them, which makes the whole thing even more sinister.

That’s about all I will say about the story to keep this review spoiler-free.   Suffice it to say, the story in just this first episode rivals some of the plots in other complete adventures, and the cliffhanger ending will have you pacing anxiously until the next installment arrives. But how about the gameplay?

Blues and Bullets plays much like any of these serial adventures. You explore 3D environments interacting with anything that offers a prompt to do so. You’ll engage in various conversations with friends and suspects as well as make a few critical decisions that may or may not affect the outcome of the game – that remains to be seen. The game also offers up a few shooting gallery sections that are surprisingly fun although not terribly challenging if you have any shooter experience. The floating target mixed with slow-motion aim assist is pretty generous in making sure you win these battles.

There is also a serious detective element to Blues and Bullets taken right from the design of the last Sherlock Holmes game whereby you analyze clues in a 3D rotational environment, log evidence, then apply that evidence to an investigation diagram to reach conclusions. It’s an awesome mechanic and again, not terribly hard to succeed thanks to large red prompts on the screen when you are near a clue. It’s hard to miss anything in this game unless you are careless or lazy.

Thankfully, the gorgeous visuals that make up the world of Eliot and Capone are enticing enough to make you want to explore every nook and cranny. You’ll be amazed at the scenic views of the skyline from a flying hotel above the city and repulsed by a gruesome religious cult killing complete with a posed and mutilated body. The black and white graphics are crisp and clean and there is just the right amount of red to punch up the scenes, even if it’s something as simple as a lens flare. The game oozes with style and originality – something clearly evident in one dream-like sequence where you are walking down a street full of giant words and phrases then using those words as cover for a gunfight.

The soundtrack is perfection, both in quality and thematic connection to the era and the whole film noir style the game emulates with ease. Some of the voice work is hit and miss, but this is mostly with the supporting cast. The primary voice actors do a fantastic job of sucking you into the story with convincing performances.

We played Blues and Bullets on both the Xbox One and the PC, and while both versions of the game are nearly identical running at 1080p, the PC does offer higher resolution options at the expense of fluid frame rates. Then again, given the nature of the visuals you really don’t need to go higher than 1080p. I did notice a bit of screen tearing and hiccups in framerate on the Xbox One, but only during cinematic pans and fly-bys of levels. The PC does offer much faster load times – the Xbox One loads were often disruptively long between scenes and chapters. All in all, you really can’t go wrong with either version.

Blues and Bullets is a fantastic start to yet another episodic adventure – a growing trend in game delivery I don’t see going away any time soon. You can jump in right now for $5 and wait with the rest of us for each new installment or give it a few months and get the entire season for $20. This first episode was just under three hours and I missed a few things required for the final achievement. Once an episode is complete you can revisit individual chapters within that episode to locate any missing clues, so there is some limited replay potential, but even as a single-pass 12+ hour adventure game, it doesn’t get much better than this.

I can’t recommend this game highly enough on either the Xbox One or PC/Steam. It’s basically The Untouchables Meets Sherlock Holmes all wrapped up in a Sin City gift box. I can’t even imagine where the story is going to take us next, but I can’t wait to find out.

For those who want to see any part of, or even the entire first episode, you can watch my live playthrough of the PC version here.   WARNING – there will be spoilers.

Screenshot Gallery

[carousel arrows=”display”]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[panel][/panel]
[/carousel]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.