I’m back with another double feature game review. This time around, I’m looking at the indie point and click, episodic adventures Knee Deep and Blues & Bullets.
It seems that between Knee Deep and True Detective, nowhere in rural America is safe. In the swampy everglades of Northern Florida, a body hangs from a water tower advertising a cheap motel. From there, a slick neo-noir, set in a grandiose theatre begins to wind its course. You take control of an upstart gossip blogger; a world-weary former detective and a grizzled local print journalist as they each begin to look into the apparent suicide from different angles for different motives.
Unlike the games brought out by developers such as Telltale, Prologue Games’ ‘swamp noir’ adventure does not have you make a series of big key choices, although that element does remain. Instead, the choose your own adventure element comes from the dialogue-heavy action of the game and the contents of the blogs, articles and investigative reports submitted by your characters- these determine how the world perceives you and how easy your investigation is. Dialogue options also change based on previous choices, such as what you’ve published and what you’ve said to people.
However, the game’s gritty, often dark atmosphere is a balanced out with a keen, if sly, sense of humour. Comic relief comes from the moronic city councillor who has no grasp of the English language and little references such as the morgue workers called Gill Stern and Carl Rosen. No part of the game is out of place, with everything having a connection to everything else. When you tug a string, four others twitch.
The game is undeniably a slow burner but as with any good noir piece, its slow burn nature builds up to frantic points of actions before going back to a simmer. Without the presence of a time limit, you can really mull over how each of your three characters interacts with the world and the characters themselves are purposely vague, relying on dialogue choices to shape the characters you want to play the game with.
Overall, Knee Deep is a refreshing addition to the episodic, choose your own adventure genre and with the three and final act due for release sometime in 2016, I can’t wait to find out what happens next. I would give the game a perfect score if it weren’t for the short run time (Approximately an hour per act) and the occasional lag in tempo.
My rating- 9/10
Blues & Bullets
Eliot Ness is the man best known for pursuing Al Capone during the heyday of Prohibition but if you look into Ness’ post-Capon career; you’ll see that this star faded fast. He slowly lost the success he had garnered due to over-work, misguided priorities and a resistance to change. But what if Ness had had the chance to make a difference one last time?
Eliot Ness- Untouchable
In A Crowd of Monster’s alternative history episodic adventure, a mysterious creature is kidnapping children and twenty years this case cost him his job as police commissioner, diner owner Eliot Ness is approached by Al Capone, his old nemesis. Capone’s son went missing twenty years ago and now, so has his granddaughter. He suspects someone from his past and for some reason, you are the only man he can trust.
The game is beautiful rendered in black, grey, white and red as you guide Ness around the world of what I presume to be the 1950s. In the style of Sherlock Holmes games, you piece together crime scenes using the evidence you find. Once again, you can choose to play Ness a number of different ways based on the different dialogue options, but it is unclear how these affect inter-personal relationships.
The plot is well-paced and the game draws you in with stunning locals and true noir intrigue. However, the controls are clunky and as previously mentioned, there is no indication of how your decisions affect the game. The first episode is out now with the remaining four due to be released over the course of 2016.
My rating- 8/10
Have you played Knee Depp or Blues & Bullets? What do you think of them so far? What are some of your favourite choose your own adventure games?