Blacksad: Under the Skin – Review
Follow Genre: Graphic Novel Adventure, Point-and-click
Developer: Péndulo Studios, Ys Interactive
Publisher: Microids
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, Mac, Xbox One
Tested on: PS4

Blacksad: Under the Skin – Review

Site Score
6.0
Good: Nice setup with potential, jazz, and story
Bad: Tragically slow in screenplay/cinematics with rusty controls and animations
User Score
5.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Blacksad is a comic that originates from the year 2000 and later. Written by Juan Diaz Canales and drawn to life by Juanjo Guarnido, it’s a popular comic that got many translations all around the world. Reason enough to make a game it seems. A game that, at a first look stays very true to the original comics which is always a good sign. But there is more to Blacksad: Under the Skin than just its looks.

Story

Blacksad is the story about John Blacksad, a black cat private detective. Not a detective who investigates cats, but literally a cat detective. John gets a case presented to him where a girl’s father named Joe Dunn hung himself in his own boxing gym. At the same time, Bobby Yale, who is a rising boxer, disappeared before a big fight. More might be going on than meets the eye…

Blacksad is a game that’s all about its story as it tries to get in the tracks of story adventure games such as Telltale’s The Walking Dead and Heavy Rain. It is noticeable though, that in multiple ways it was a bit much for the developer. Which is weird, considering they have multiple games on their name that are similar in gameplay.

Graphics

With 3D models based on the original Blacksad comics, the game gives you animals instead of humans. Think of the movie Zootopia, cast into a game basically, where tough characters get to be a rhino or a buffalo, and the more fragile characters are incarnated as an old goat, for example. Apart from some small mistakes, such as a low-quality model here and there, it works pretty well.

The way the game uses the graphics to tell a story is essentially well done, but at the same time, it often feels rusty. Certain choices in cinematics and such, feel slow, taking a lot of speed out of the game that other similar titles do possess. This goes together with the fact that the mouth movements are poorly animated and rather rough. This problem, with elements not feeling smooth enough, is common throughout multiple aspects of the game.

Sound

The background music contributes to a classic detective experience with numerous jazz tracks. These tracks are nice to listen to as you think about the story or get woken up into action by sharp brass instruments. Sounds effects are essentially fine, but the voice acting feels pretty poor. It could have been a lot better with actors that actually express the emotions their characters feel, but aside from some rage here and there, it’s all kind of plain.

Gameplay

 

Essentially, Blacksad is a graphic novel adventure. This means that you will live through a story with gameplay much like traditional point-and-click games. The difference is that there will also be moments that you have to think “fast” and choose one out of a few options to react to a situation. These reactions can possibly affect how the story develops. Most of the time though, you have a very generous amount of time to think about what you want to do, which again takes away speed and excitement from the game. When you are not in a think-fast cutscene, you have to walk around to explore the area, such as a crime scene or a room, with somebody to talk to. You do this by selecting options and objects within range and clicking on them.

The big problem with the selection system is that the range of objects to select is sometimes very limited, and it can be annoying to get the right options to appear, as you have to approach them from a certain angle. This is enhanced by the somewhat useless “mini-game” of hidden baseball cards that you can search in a variety of scenes and collect. Add to all this that the character just responds very poorly to controller input, lagging when wanting to go a different direction or giving you trouble when you want to turn around. Slow and rusty is what seems to destroy the potential of the game in simply too many ways.

 

Conclusion

Blacksad has some potential with its story and the use of animal characters. The background jazz does its part as well. Sadly, the poor and laggy combination of animations and gameplay that just doesn’t feel balanced enough in speed and action destroy a lot. This game just needs an entire patch or something to get it up on its feet, or a bit more developing time/reflection, though it’s a bit too late for that.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Blacksad: Under the Skin - Review, 5.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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