Home PC Blacksad: Under The Skin – Setting the standard for comic-based games

Blacksad: Under The Skin – Setting the standard for comic-based games

by Jamietomp

1950’s New York, a soldier-turned-detective and corruption that stretches from the lowly thugs of the city right up to the famous 1% of the world. Based on a comic book series of the same name, this could quite possibly become the industry standard for developers wanting to combine two of the best forms of media – games and comics. This game gripped me in it’s dark vices from the very beginning and had me enticed until the end of the credits.

I’ve previously written about detective games and why I think the world needs more of them, ‘Blacksad: Under The Skin’ easily tops my list as the best one I’ve ever played. It plays out very similarly to a Telltale game. Characters remember things you say/do to them, and it affects their actions later in the game. Your choices can completely change the way the story unfolds, and I love it!

At the start of the game, you meet a rather brutish character, who tries to strong-arm you into not reporting him, and pulls a gun on you (which spurs a quick time event) in an attempt to make sure you don’t. You can kick him out of your office, or you can accept his bribe, promising to keep his secret. OR, you can do what I did, take his money as compensation for him pulling a gun on you, then turn him in anyway! Albeit, this can result in you taking a slight beating later in the game, but at least you got the money first!

One of the features I like most is that it doesn’t force you to collect every piece of evidence at a scene, similar to LA Noire, you can progress without collecting some evidence and coming to the correct conclusions, it just makes choices harder. For example, there’s a section of the story where you find someone you’re looking for, if you haven’t collected enough evidence, or if you don’t make the right deductions, it’s possible to get them arrested for murder, or even killed! But if you make the right deduction, then you realise that he’s nothing but an innocent pawn, cruelly used by a select few hoping to cover their tracks.

A feature similar to the Sherlock Holmes games is also used in this masterpiece. During conversations, and at certain points of the game, you can enter a slow-motion event where you use your keen cat-senses to sniff out, listen to, and visually identify clues and points of interest that can provide a lot of assistance in interrogations and dialogue. Such as being able to smell that there are more people in the room than you can see, or noticing a certain-shaped pin on someone’s jacket, giving away that they’re part of one of New York’s biggest gangs. The more time I put into this game, the more I noticed different features and aspects of other games mixed to concoct this unforgettable, detective cocktail.

However, this game isn’t all action and detective work. It touches on some very sensitive subjects, which are still relatable and prolific in society today. These include mental health problems such as depression and it’s lead to suicide, but also less private issues such as racism, poverty, and adultery. It’s a very thought-provoking experience, which could be interpreted as a deeply touching visual novel. It truly has something for everyone, and the characters are gritty, relatable personalities that anyone has no doubt encountered before in their lifetime.

There are light-hearted, even humorous moments throughout the game though, it’s not constantly darker. There are conversations between characters that will make you laugh, things sometimes happen which make you wonder how the developers ever came up with them. Also, littered throughout the game are references and to classic movies and novels, many of which are easily recognisable, such as the below twist on a timeless classic you will likely recognise…

All in all, this game truly was an absolute joy to experience, from start to finish. If a sequel is ever produced, it would have my full support, I’d be picking it up on release day! The graphic style is gorgeous! But it’s clear story was the main focus here, nothing was sacrificed for graphics. Its the perfect balance of game where it left me satisfied and smiling, but happy for more if it ever comes.

 

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