REVIEW – It’s not that easy to make Blacksad: Under The Skin a video game adaptation out of a comic. In this case, I think it happened. It’s a noir investigation where the events around the anthropomorphic animals are pleasant, but not that perfect to be memorable in the longer term.
The game, Blacksad: Under The Skin, which will require approximately ten hours to beat, isn’t recommended for those that cannot accept the fact that everyone is an animal in this world.
Frank Sinatra – New York, New York
Bears, cats, and the like – I have used the anthropomorphic word for a good reason -, who seems to have a bit of adult touch added here and there. You will end up noticing these over time. Yet, I felt like I was playing a Telltale game – somehow that former team’s creations have come to my mind seeing the dialogue system, but it’s a little unique here: as you are a cat, you can use your instincts during your investigations, and no, not in a high-tech manner as in Batman’s case. (Blacksad, frankly, looks like Batman. JUST LOOK AT HIM!) And when the events click together in your head, that also reminded me of the Batman game’s first season I believe (it’s been a while, and I’m old and extremely demotivated), plus also the Microids-published Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders had something similar, albeit Poirot had a far more complex recap.
We’re in New York, in the 1950s. Joe Dunn, the head of a boxing club, is murdered, and his daughter, Sonia hires us to find out what happened and to see where Bobby Yale, a rising star of said club, has disappeared just before an important match. The noir style, complete with the 1950s touch, is also present, but I somehow felt a bit of duality throughout the game. The dynamic of the game was missing most of the time: several times, I felt that the story is now going to kick in, but oh, for crying out loud, it grinds to a halt once again; also, the human-like animals might not make the darker events that serious – I’m not saying it looks unusual, but the IMPACT hasn’t been hit properly.
Let’s say that the thriller approach would have been hit with humans. Taking a quick hairpin to the dialogues – these are timed, and there are also QTE events that I don’t think they should be here. (I’d also say that the timing itself isn’t kind to the player – you can easily mess these up. What was the point of adding the QTEs, again?) The controls are easy, though, and you don’t have to worry about a point-and-click game and its pixel-hunting gameplay either. I’d also like to point out that Blacksad’s characters have taken a risk with going from a 2D comic book into a 3D video game adaptation – it could have been messed up massively, but that is not the case, fortunately.
Moby feat. Debbie Harry – New York, New York
Previously, in the news (guess who…), it was mentioned that the voice acting wasn’t top-notch in one of the trailers. It stayed. Blacksad’s voice DOESN’T FIT THE CHARACTER WHATSOEVER. I’d recommend this game in French (I asked a Belgian and a French Canadian friend, and they both said the French dub is more suitable… and I have to agree with them), as that voice doesn’t feel emotionless. I understand, they wanted to go noir, but even I have more emotions in my demonic voice, even with me being dead inside. This is where Blacksad lost the 8/10 rating. You can’t control the investigating cat around that freely as in a Telltale game, but you can move him around to react accordingly, depending on the character/item/situation, as the button is context-sensitive.
There are six endings in the game, and you might find a bug here and there, but at least you can find those collectable stickers, as well as enjoy the visuals… and also to be somewhat disappointed in the sound effects, as they felt unfinished (but not as much as in Ride to Hell: Retribution). So the base concept is tarnished by the execution, and that’s why Blacksad also slid away from a 7.5/10, and it was close to not get a 7 either, but I spent time to check the whole game in its (original?) French dub, which felt more suitable to the relaxing, decent background music.
Billy Joel – New York State Of Mind
So Blacksad: Under the Skin ends with a seven out of ten, which is somewhat a gratuitous rating (the same goes for Terminator Resistance, but since I saw a 71/100 in a domestic publication, which I agree with, it makes sense), but it’s deserved, as I think the franchise, which isn’t that known worldwide, could get a bit of attention via this game. The story is okay, the audio isn’t, the pacing is questionable, the gameplay is problematic, and its ambience is also good – it’s worth a try if you like Telltale’s and Dontnod’s games, and if you don’t feel bothered by the anthropomorphic animals. Microids released an okay game, but they should have given a bit more attention to the English dub.
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+ Noir ambience
+ The comic book style has been fitted to suit 3D
+ „Can’t put it down”
– Blacksad’s English voice ruins the ambience, play it in French
– The sound effects and the gameplay are lacking here and there
– Why do the QTEs?
Developer: Pendulo Studios, YS Interactive
Release date: November 14, 2019