It has been a long wait - a very long wait. Admittedly, one of my concerns about episodically released games has always been the 'what if?' when too much time passes between episodes. Blues and Bullets nearly tests that theory with an eight month hiatus since Episode 1 released. Thankfully, for those who enjoyed the format of the initial chapter, they will find a lot to like here as Blues and Bullets - Episode 2: Shaking The Hive strikes many of the same notes.
Admittedly, it took me a few minutes to shake off some of the cobwebs after so much time away. That same incredibly distinctive visual style remains, with a world painted in shades of black and white with red accents feeling immediately familiar upon loading up the chapter. I still love the art of this game.
Before long however, I was right back into the story of Elliot Ness. It helps that this episode gets off to a fast start with a nice recap of the original episode before diving into the story - but a slightly different story. We begin looking back at Elliot as a younger man who is about to go on a date. It is an interesting preamble that serves its primary objective - making us interested in this complex primary character whom we are channeling throughout the chapter. This is the primary differentiation between episodes. In the first one, characters talked about Elliot's past, but here we get to live pieces of it. For my money, this is almost always going to serve as the better narrative device and that holds true here.
However, if you were hoping to see a lot of gameplay innovation from the first episode, you might come away disappointed. Obviously with this being a second chapter, it is geared towards those who were invested in the first. You can read my review of the first chapter from back in September of last year by clicking on the link in the introductory paragraph, but suffice to say this is an adventure game with a lot of narrative emphasis not unlike the Telltale Game titles. There are moments of puzzle solving, conversations with other characters and slow burning progression as the story unfolds at its own pace.
I am a huge fan of these types of games, and Blues and Bullets - Episode 2: Shaking The Hive continues that trend. The voice acting is solid, I dug the places where music played and as I touched on before, the style of the visuals in this game really draws me in. There are still moments of on-rails action to be had here, some detective style puzzles to solve as the game slowly lays out more of its story. One thing that this second episode benefits from is an increase in pace. This is still not an action game, at least not when I think of typical shooters out there. There are certainly action scenes, and a couple more this time around than I recall from the original episode, but in general the pacing seems to have picked up slightly.
If you are a fan of story driven games with a mix of action and puzzle solving, Blues and Bullets - Episode 2: Shaking The Hive is a worthy follow up to the first chapter. It is a solid game that has a decent amount of length for the type of title it is. It can be largely viewed as 'more of the same' since the first chapter hit upon a lot of these same elements, but by and large I think this chapter does a slightly better job on almost every front, especially with the slight uptick in pace and the flashback sequences. Here is hoping we get the third episode a bit more quickly than this one.
A Crowd of Monsters
A Crowd of Monsters
Article by Nick