Reaches Nintendo switch, PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4 Peaky Blinders: Mastermind, the first video game adaptation of the successful BBC production starring Cillian Murphy that takes us to post-World War I Birmingham and the struggle of the area’s mafia families to do and for power and control of any illegal business let it be third. The indie studio FuturLab is in charge of this development in what seems to be its first foray into the Nintendo hybrid after having published several titles for Playstation and PS Vita. And the British do it at risk, with a game of strategy, adventure and puzzles, less action-oriented and more tactical and action planning that the series’ head of the family, Tommy Shelby, does to carry out his « master plans. » A different bet when it comes to adapting series or movies to the video game medium.

Does this genre suit the Shelby adventures? Do you make good use of the license or do you just put the name to get the fan’s attention? The answer in the following analysis.

«Merchandise: we put the name of the film to everything» – Maestro Yogurt

Since the video game industry is just that, an industry, it has not stopped receiving inspired titles, either distantly in successful films and series, or officially taking advantage of the license of those productions. The result could not be more disparate. In the heads of all fans appears the bizarre story of the E.T. by Atari, the adaptation of the Steven Spielberg film that ended, according to the popular heritage, buried in the desert with thousands of unsold copies due to its poor quality.

Other titles can be added to that infamous gallery of horrors made up of games that were intended to sell more by the name of the license than by their own merits. Without going too far back in time, the Street fighter (1995) by Jean Claude Van Damme, turned into a classic over the years although for the wrong reasons, had its own photorealistic video game – Mortal Kombat style but without the blood, as if it were from Super Nintendo – of painful memory. Television successes of the last decades such as Lost, House, The Sopranos and even Desperate women have had their own video games that if they sold any unit, it was more for the cover and the promise of handling Michael Schofield fleeing Fox River -for example- than for his innovation and playability. Come on, what in some circles is known as « Cheat geeks ».

Of course not all are poor games. Although the world tends to associate television / cinematographic license with mediocre gaming, there are great exceptions that have contributed to moving that image away from our minds. Classics such as Goldeneye 007 for Nintendo 64, the trilogy of games that on Super Nintendo adapted the Star Wars trilogy, much more recent games like Alien: Isolation (although this takes ideas from the franchise but is not an adaptation to use) and in the television section, the most recent versions of The walking dead or Game of Thrones Telltale Games, enjoyed some success. All this, of course, not to mention animation, both Japanese and Western, which enjoy numerous titles adapting series with considerable success. You don’t have to go far to find them, there are the Naruto, the One piece, he Dragon ball fighterz or the remembered Duck adventures (both the NES and its most recent remake).

As in a pharmacy, there is everything here. Games that will go down in history, either for their good qualities or for their deficiencies and of course, successful games, middleweight games, enjoyable titles that make good use of their license without having to be called to become immediate classics of the industry. . Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is in that category.

Enemies have a line of sight that we must avoid if we do not want to be stopped.

By order of the f… ..g Peaky Blinders

As in the series, in Peaky Blinders: Mastermind We will live the adventures of the Shelby family, a clan of Irish origin settled in Birmingham (United Kingdom) at the beginning of the 20th century, after the First World War. Smoke, soot, crime and razor blades hidden in the Paperboy caps are some of the elements that have given a unique image to this television production, coupled with the charisma of the Shelby and their criminal tricks. A clan headed by Thomas Shelby, masterfully played by Cillian Murphy, who many will remember for his role as Jhonatan Crane, « the scarecrow » in Nolan’s trilogy dedicated to Batman.

The success of this series broadcast by the BBC and popularized in the rest of the world by its arrival on Netflix a few years ago, has generated a multitude of merchandising around it but without ceasing to be a niche series, it is not that we are talking about ‘ The Avengers’, precisely. That is why the arrival of this game developed by the indie studio FuturLab continues to surprise. But even more surprising is the genre chosen to bring the Shelby stories to digital. Previous experiences such as games of The Sopranos, The Godfather or Scarface, could make you think of two genres: third-person action in the purest style Grand Theft Auto or the management and strategy of criminal empires. However, in this specific case we have opted for the adventure, tactical strategy and puzzles.

Each of the characters can have different objectives during the mission.

With mechanics reminiscent of national classics like the Commandos from Pyro Studios (the second part of which is coming to Nintendo Switch), here we control the members of the Shelby to overcome the 10 missions of which the title is composed and discover the plot organized against the family in a story that takes place, chronologically, between the first and second seasons of the series. The influence of Commandos (and other games that came later) we find it in the way of dealing with stealth and in the use of characters differentiated by their specific abilities. Thus, Tommy, the family leader, can convince some NPCs to act on his behalf for a few seconds, Ada and Aunt Polly are able to distract the forces of order to focus their attention on them, go unnoticed by their presence (moving through the sight lines enemies without being stopped) or bribing them to look the other way. John and Arthur are the brute force and the ones who will be able to take care of the thugs of the rival gangs and overcome physical obstacles either by kicking or setting them on fire. And then we have little Finn who can sneak into corners that, by size, are not accessible to adults.

Very determined skills and profiles that serve to overcome the challenges of each mission. However, all this has one more twist: simultaneity. Each level has a certain time for its completion and in some cases success depends on two or more characters acting at the same time. This is represented by a timeline in which we see sequentially the tasks carried out by the protagonists, overlapping in most cases. Thus, for example, we need someone to be at a specific point focusing the attention and with it the line of sight of the police officers so that another character passes without being arrested or that someone remains opening a door long enough for the rest to pass to a specific area.

Is the combination of all skills of the characters, knowing which ones to use and at what specific moments to do it, the key to solving these puzzles or challenges that each mission is made up of, taking into account that we can always go back in the timeline , ‘Rewind’ the actions so to speak, until you hit the right key and plan the performance of all the characters to the millimeter so that the result is accurate.

Arthur and John Shelby are our men of action during the game.

That you get to heaven before the devil knows you have died

Although it drinks from different sources, the originality on the part of FuturLab is appreciated at the time of betting on this genre instead of a more commercial one when transferring a franchise like Peaky Blinders to the video game. However, although the gaming experience is very good, both for fans of the adventure and for those of the series, in both cases the team limps. As for the game itself, can sin both short and repetitive. The first missions serve almost as a tutorial, knowing the different abilities of the characters and putting them into operation as the story unfolds. The problem is that, until the adventure we don’t come across really challenging levels. It is in the last missions where we have at our disposal all the characters, and we make use of all their abilities, which implies that we must plan their actions very well to fulfill the mission.

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So we are going to rack our brains a bit, yes, that’s what this type of game is about, but that challenge comes almost to the end of the adventure. Perhaps the balance between levels so that more than half of the game is not a military walk, although you enjoy playing each mission and seeing how the story unfolds, but all this contributes to the poor result. A positive aspect also influences there and that is that the game engages. The adventure can be completed in less than 5 hours although it is committed to replayability (and there may be that greater difficulty that we demand) trying to repeat missions in the shortest time possible (with bronze, silver and gold ranks for best times) or collect all the collectibles of each level, in the form of pocket watches.

The repetitive aspect is found in the mechanics of the timeline. The game ends up being a trial and error exercise and we have to constantly ‘rewind’ the actions of each character to balance the times and have them do their job at the right time. This is the main mechanic of the game and it is fine but sometimes it is done tedious having to constantly go back and forth with each character for such trivial actions as moving from point A to point B. The game would have liked an option that allows selecting several characters to move them at the same time when we want them to arrive at the same place instead of selecting one, moving it, going back in the timeline, selecting the next one and moving it to the same place . It can end up tiring but, in any case, we repeat: this is the main mechanic of the game, the one that makes it original despite its shortcomings.

The scenes between missions, the ones that tell the story, are static illustrations with text.

Red Right Hand

He graphic and sound section of the game is austere but compliant, without making any kind of technical boast. The characters and settings are well built, with some detail but we always see them from above, in a zenith perspective that does not include any option to zoom in to get more of the design of the Shelby, their enemies or the streets of the Small neighborhood. Heath in Birmingham that exude so much personality on television or inside buildings. But those details are there. The character designs have been transferred very well and it is seen in aspects that may not matter little but that attract the attention of the fan, for example, the gait of thomas shelby, those steps of who he thinks he is is the king of Small Heath, the emperor of the neighborhood. That confidence that Murphy transmits to his character carries over very well to the game, despite being an unimportant detail for the gameplay.

As in the series, music plays a very important role in Peaky Blinders: Mastermind. If in television production the use of musical pieces by modern groups draws attention, where the ‘Red Right Hand’ of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and its different versions, here, despite not having that specific theme, it is committed to collaboration with the British band Feverist, who already participated with his music in the first season of the series, and here he is in full charge of the soundtrack of the title that can also be heard on services such as Spotify. Without a doubt, an added value for the game that helps to immerse yourself in the same atmosphere that the television series creates.

Finally, a little more involvement could be expected from the series producer and participation from the actors in it. The scenes that we see between mission and mission are static illustrations with text that could have looked much better with the voices of the original characters, although Cillian Murphy participated by putting voice to title trailer. In any case, this does not affect the gaming experience.

Peaky Blinders: Mastermind – How to Leverage a License

Despite its shortcomings and flaws, the FuturLab title exudes a lot of desire to transfer the spirit and details of the Peaky Blinders license to the video game and at the same time give it its own personality. It is not a mere use of the name of the series, its brand, but a way of integrating the aspects they have chosen from the series to create something new in a genre that may be anything but commercial. And works. They miss a better balance in the difficulty of missions, more details, more involvement on the part of the television part of the production but of course it is a great example of how to make good use of a license, even if it is something more niche. It is difficult to say if it will completely satisfy the user who has not seen a single episode of Peaky Blinders, who will certainly find himself before a successful adventure that will please fans of the genre, or if it will satisfy the most hardcore fan of the Shelby that I could expect a more action-oriented experience, but Peaky Blinders: Mastermind It is situated in that gray area between both expectations and as a whole it offers an enjoyable and unique product that will not make history in the genre, but that does manage to convey some of the sensations that the series offers.

We have analyzed Peaky Blinders: Mastermind thanks to a digital code provided by Renaissance PR. Version analyzed: 1.0

A good way to take advantage of the license

Peaky Blinders: Mastermind takes advantage of the spirit of the series by transferring the machinations of Thomas Shelby to a tactical, adventure and puzzle game that, despite its short duration and unbalanced difficulty, offers an experience with personality that is not only in name of the license.

PROS

Managing the Shelby Skills

Originality in the use of the timeline

The musical section of the game

CONS

The game is made short and simple

Mechanics can become repetitive