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Blues and Bullets: Episode 2 – Shaking the Hive review for Xbox One, PC

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: A Crowd of Monsters
Developer: A Crowd of Monsters
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

Around eight months ago I wrote my first published review for Gaming Age. That review was for the first episode in, A Crowd of Monsters’ interactive adventure; Blues and Bullets. I’ve reviewed a bunch of titles since then, but in the back of my mind I’ve been wondering when the second episode of Blues and Bullets would finally be released. Maybe I’m being a bit sentimental that it was my first review, or that they use Eliot Ness in an alternate timeline, but I got really excited when I saw Episode 2 was dropping. I was eager to see where the story went and if it was worth the wait for further episodes. If this is your first time reading about Blues and Bullets I would recommend reading my Episode 1 review here. I’m not going to retouch on many of the topics I mentioned in the original review, so if you haven’t already read it, this review might feel somewhat lost on you.

The funny thing about my last few sentences and retreading on the previous review is that it’s inevitable with this release. I went back and reread that review to see everything I went over (and also saw how much better I’ve gotten at writing since then). This is a review that is extremely easy to sum up. Blues and Bullets Episode 2 is almost exactly like Episode 1, just in different locations. I’m going to say it one more time so you have fair warning, you should not read on if you don’t want any of the Episode 1 story spoiled. So now that you’ve been warned multiple times I will continue. In the first episode you find out that Al Capone’s daughter, along with many other children, are being kidnapped in Santa Esperanza. Al Capone persuades his old rival, Eliot Ness, to help find her and away we go.

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One significant change from Episode 1 to 2 is that we get to play some scenes from Ness’ past. This is something in hindsight that I would have liked to see in Episode 1. While it’s a nice addition to Episode 2, the scenes tend to be hit-or-miss. Some of the scenes drag, and like Episode 1 the voice overs are laughably bad for some characters. The last bit I will mention about the story is, while it has a slow build and gets good towards the end of the episode (just like Episode 1), I just didn’t feel like it advanced the story very much.

Also, the gameplay mechanics and variety of action is exactly the same as Episode 1. The gun scenes (which play out like Time Crisis without the light gun) need to be scaled back for future episodes. These scenes just aren’t much fun and this second episode has even more of them than the first. The detective style mode also makes its return. Collecting clues and piecing together a crime scene was my favorite part of Blues and Bullets in both episodes thus far. In my opinion, this style of gameplay draws itself better to this style of game, especially more so than an on-rails shooter. Finally there is the tripped out segment of the episode, which has Ness hallucinating or dreaming. I thought this segment was done a lot better in the first episode. I hope A Crowd of Monsters isn’t just trying to make sure they squeeze in each of their gimmick gameplay mechanics into each episode just for the hell of it. They need to focus on the story, especially since this is an interactive adventure, and I felt like Episode 2 fell short in that regard.

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Overall Blues and Bullets Episode 2 is more of the same, literally every bit of gameplay from the first episode is carried over to the second. Some are featured more throughout (the on-rails sections), which isn't necessarily a good thing. The detective style area of the episode is the most enjoyable. While you make choices through the game that are supposed to alter the story, I only truly felt like I was figuring things out and advancing the story while in the detective environment. While I plan on continuing when future episodes are released (which I hope aren’t as spread out as these were), I’m not as excited to see where the story goes as I was after the first episode.

Grade: C+

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