I've been an avid gamer for over a decade now, and I've seen many different games come and go. Few have become legendary games, some have become great games, and most are just fine to play with no real significance behind them. Sometimes the more coveted games have a lot of replay ability and other times, they are great games, but for only one play through. Blues and Bullets Episode 1 has made it onto my great games list. It is not legendary just yet (perhaps when the entire season of episodes comes out), but so far it is well on its way to leaving a great mark on gaming. Just what makes this little, episodic indie game stick out from amongst the crowd? Well, let's solve this mystery by piecing together this puzzle piece by piece.
Everything in the game is black, white and grey - except for red objects. This gives the entire walkthrough a wonderful sense of the specific emotions the developers want you to feel. When you see red blood at a crime scene, you feel the brutality; when you see Elliot's red tie, you feel his authoritative sense of justice; when you see red flowers, you feel the innocence that your character is so desperately fighting to preserve. It's a great way to not only keep the game cheaper by creating a mostly black and white world, but it helps immerse you into an old-timey world, too. The presence of only red helps draw and lead you further into the story as well as guide you emotionally through a story filled with a lot of depth and magnitude. I hope more games embrace a stylized way of developing their games because I think, at least in this case, it really added to the experience.
As someone who plays a lot of first-person shooters, sometimes games with other styles of gameplay take me a bit to get into. At first, I didn't like being able to control the camera angles, and I wasn't a fan of the camera guiding me. However, after just a few minutes I was able to adjust and it didn't bother me so much afterwards. I was also particularly intrigued and entertained by the detective work you must do to solve a murder. Having played the Arkham Series, I have always longed for Batman to do more detective work, but they were never able to integrate this feature in such an immersive way. Blues and Bullets brings you into the thought process and puzzling organization that is solving a crime in such a way that makes you actually feel like you're doing detective work. It's some of the best detective work I've seen in any game that makes you gather clues to solve a question.
Tone & Story
These are the two aspects of the game that excel far beyond the others, and completely shape the entire experience. Since completing Episode 1, I can only compare this game to the first season of True Detective. Nothing else has such a mysterious, creepy, horrifying, noir feel to it. What I love about this game is that I feel like it is finally defining a genre that has been yearning to be tapped into through gaming: Noir. We've had so many amazing noir films and shows over the years, yet only a few games have achieved the true noir tone and style. Many games don't have a story and mystery compelling enough to invoke the feeling of disparity, justice, and struggle that any good noir thriller would need. I'm happy to say that Blues and Bullets successfully portrays the noir genre with magnificent precision and expertise.
More on the comparison to True Detective, we are introduced to our hero, Elliot Ness, through a series of flashbacks and present day comparisons. Much like with Rust and Marty during Season 1. We are able to see their previous motivations and intentions as well as where those decisions have led them today. All of these characters are then thrust back into a world filled with vile creatures and murderous cults by the people they now despise. In Elliot Ness' case it is Al Capone, his old nemesis that hires him to find his kidnapped granddaughter, while for Rust and Marty, their reunion was brought on by the department that they now despised. They also disliked each other but were forced to work together to stop something bigger than themselves, much like Ness and Capone. Each story also sees our heroes become conflicted with themselves and teeter on the edge of sobriety and sanity. I'm hoping to see more similarities as we continue on with more episodes of Blues and Bullets.
This is, without a doubt, a game worth your time. Every aspect of this game soars far beyond its competitor's attempts at the genre, and gives us not only characters to fall in love with, but a story to become enthralled in. I cannot wait to play the subsequent episodes and continue the story of Elliot Ness and Al Capone, and to solve the mystery surrounding this murderous cult that is kidnapping small children. As always, thanks for reading, and be sure to check back here for my thoughts on the coming episodes!
Sources: Moviepilot.com, Steam