Blues and Bullets

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Blues and Bullets Game Poster Image
Bloody episode good start to mature film noir adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Though investigated case is dark, often violent, Ness' goal is noble. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The hero, retired detective Eliot Ness, is a complicated character. Though lawful at heart, he's also troubled, full of anger, regret. Players' choices can make Ness a kinder, more noble character or a cynical, more violent one. 

Ease of Play

Limited interactivity with simple controls. Action sequences require players to press specific keys within set time frames (failure minimized by access to quick replays). A simple investigative mode makes sorting clues foolproof.

Violence

Lots of violence throughout game. Ness engages in many bloody gun battles; many scenes involve blood spatter, trails. A crime scene shows a mutilated, impaled body, dismembered body parts. One scene discusses killing children, implies the killing of a small boy. 

Sex

No nudity or outright sex, but sex is mentioned. A clothed couple grinds against each other on the street. 

Language

"Damn" used occasionally.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People shown smoking, drinking. Ness shown drunk in a flashback; players can choose to have him drink whiskey. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blues and Bullets is a downloadable adventure title that's a violent, bloody homage to film noir with a story that depicts the abduction and killing of children. Though the killing is done offscreen, children are shown terrified and in cages among pools and trails of blood. A man's body is horribly dismembered and displayed in a ritualistic killing. The hero of the story, retired detective Eliot Ness, has a drinking problem and can be violent. Though sex is mentioned, it's never shown, but a clothed couple does grind on each other in a street scene. Characters also drink and smoke, but language is kept to an occasional "damn." Much of the game controls are easy to grasp, thanks to limited interaction with the environment and timed events that require specific button presses for success within a limited amount of time.

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What's it about?

BLUES AND BULLETS is an homage to the film noir genre. Twenty years after putting gangster Al Capone in jail, detective Eliot Ness is retired and running a diner called Blues and Bullets. Having left the force after failing to solve a case involving missing children, he's doing his best to put the past (and a burgeoning drinking problem) behind him. Still haunted by the deaths of his Capone-hunting colleagues, he's more than shocked when Capone -- now out of jail -- summons him to his home and offers him a job. This game is an episodic title, with additional installments planned for release at a later time.

Is it any good?

This episodic adventure starts with a surprising, film-worthy intro that gives way to a gorgeous noir-style setting just right for a thrilling detective story. Now, to get that story rolling, you have to sit through a long, pointless sequence full of uninteresting action. But the good news is that if you can hang in 'til it's over (a half hour or so), things do take a turn for the better.

The drama begins when Ness' old nemesis, Al Capone, convinces Ness to find his missing granddaughter. The retired Ness immediately goes back into detective mode, which is where the game really starts. Examining a crime scene, you collect and arrange clues on an evidence board to recreate the crime. The process is both grisly and engrossing -- it's easily the best part of the episode. The same could be said about talking to people. During conversations, you're given multiple response options that affect Ness' tone, and presumably (it's hard to tell this early in the story) those choices affect later events. Slightly less successful are the game's exploration sequences. While exploring, your attention is frequently drawn to meaningless events or you interact with red herrings that aren't significant to the case you're on. This, coupled with Ness' plodding movement, can seem like a waste of time. Fortunately, the game's investigative aspect, (mostly) good voice acting, stylish, high-contrast graphics, and sultry piano soundtrack are enough reason to finish the episode and tune in for Episode Two.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how gangsters such as Al Capone are shown in movies and on TV. Do these media make gangsters seem cool or scary? Do you think that's any different from how they were depicted in real life?

  • Discuss being a detective. What do you think would be the hardest thing about being a detective? 

  • Think about the types of evidence police can find at crime scenes. How many different types of clues can you think of? 

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows, Xbox One
  • Price: $4.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid (The first episode is $4.99 - a season pass is $19.99 or $24.99 for a season pass plus soundtrack and digital comic.)
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: A Crowd of Monsters
  • Release date: July 23, 2015
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures, History
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love mystery

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