Blues and Bullets – Episode 1

Blues and Bullets is an episodic alternate-history noir adventure developed by A Crowd of Monsters, featuring an ex-detective who is drawn into a new case by his old nemesis..

Blues and Bullets - The End of Peace

Players take on the role of retired detective Eliot Ness, formerly of the legendary Untouchables, and now the owner of a diner in Santa Esperanza.  One day, he is recruited by his old nemesis, Al Capone, to look into the disappearance of his granddaughter..

Children have been going missing in this corrupted city, and in the interactive introduction to the game, we get a glimpse of what they might be going through..

Blues and Bullets - Children

Creepy.

The game has a striking art style with black and white and splashes of red, and it is used to great effect.  Interactive features are marked in red, which helps to guide the player towards them and move the story on.  It’s dark and atmospheric, with impressive locations and scenery and plenty of detail, and even though you can’t interact with it all, it adds depth and interest to the world.

Blues and Bullets Diner

The Blues and Bullets story is really engrossing, but it’s a little slow to get started.  I think this impression is magnified by the awfully slow movement speed.  Moving slowly is fine while Ness is behind the counter of his diner, but once he’s walking around an open area or down long corridors, it’s frustrating to not be able to pick up the pace at all.  In some cases, the slow movement speed seems to just drag the game out without adding anything.  This is more apparent when playing through a second time – as I did, to try out different conversational choices or decisions.

During conversations, and a few other interactive sequences, the player is offered a choice of responses.  While these do often provide a little more information or different reactions from the other characters, the outcome for the main story is the same.  I particularly liked the option of jamming more sauce onto Dickinson’s burger 😉

Blues and Bullets More Sauce

You can compare a breakdown of your decisions with those of other players afterwards too, which is an interesting touch.

The game uses a fixed camera, and while normally I prefer to be able to mooch around the environment, I thought it worked well for the most part, and kept me moving on with the story.  Combat appears as third-person on-rails shooting pieces, with a few quick time events mixed in.  The on-rails sections have Ness advancing to cover between shootouts, but leaving the rest to the player.  It’s simple, but it played well and was a nice change of pace.

As for the quick-time events.. I actually liked them here, though co-reviewer Jason was less keen.  They allowed combat sequences to play out as befit the story, and with the prompts being clear and spaced out to correspond with the buttons on the controller, they worked well.  In the event of a failure and death, the player is restarted just prior to the QTE event, so they’re not massively punishing.

My favourite part of this episode was the detective work, where you must find and piece together clues at a gory murder scene.

Blues and Bullets Clue

The clues fit into logical places on the board, and while you can’t go wrong at all in this investigation, it was still very rewarding to explore the house and figure out what happened, step by step.  More please?! 🙂

I was quite enthralled with the game, and I was somewhat disappointed when I realised I had come to the end, albeit only the end for now.

This is the first episode in a series of five, and while you can purchase the entire season on Steam now, it’s not clear when the next installments will become available.

4/5

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