'Peaky Blinders: Mastermind' Preview: A Puzzling Experience That's Missing The Action
The world rejoiced (well, parts of it did) when Curve Digital announced they'd be releasing a video game based on the hit BBC series, Peaky Blinders. As you can imagine, a household name of such magnitude comes with exceptional expectations, with gamers automatically expecting something as action packed as the TV show itself. And that was the general vibe I was expecting, too, going into the game in question, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind.
However, after a short stint with the game, I can safely say that impression was somewhat misplaced. As a fan of the series, I was confident that a Peaky Blinders game would be incredible. But I left my time with Mastermind wondering if the puzzle-adventure genre is the best place for such an adaptation.
Set before the events of the first series, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind puts you right at the heart of the Shelby crime family, with the player controlling individual members' movements and creating havoc in the streets of Small Heath, Birmingham. The game is presented from a top-down perspective, allowing you to see multiple rooms at once and plan ahead for any enemies.
At the bottom of the screen you can find a timeline, which plots important events and actions as you progress through each mission. It's a little like the mechanic found in John Wick Hex, if you played that 2019 release. This timeline is a crucial part of Peaky Blinders: Mastermind, and allows you to control multiple family members at once by tabbing between them. It certainly takes some getting used to at first, and you'll most likely rewind or fast forward too far on more than one occasion, which can be a little frustrating. However, for the Peaky Blinders to thrive with you at the controls, you must come to terms with the timeline. It adds an extra layer of depth to the puzzles found in-game, often making you think about who you have to hand.
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You are introduced to new characters as the game progresses, and each subsequent mission is tailored to the new face as well as those you're already familiar with. In the short period I had with the game, covering its opening three levels, I played as Tommy, Ada, and Finn. Other recognisable characters, such as John, Arthur and Aunt Polly, are seen in cutscenes early on, so I imagine it's only a matter of time until you get to play as those, too.
Each character comes with a special trait to help you in tricky situations. For example, Tommy Shelby can persuade certain characters to side with the Peaky Blinders. Finn on the other hand can reach places that others cannot, and Ada can distract enemies long enough for you to sneak other characters past.
In true Peaky Blinders style, the first mission involves Tommy sneaking into a warehouse and stealing champagne for a celebration down at the Garrison. Which sounds great? Sadly, the objectives throughout are slightly monotonous, and there's a lack of variety in these first three levels. Any puzzles encountered are easily solved with the right timing. The addition of characters helped for sure, but even the three I controlled had relatively peaceful traits - a long way from the carnage so frequently splashed across the TV show.
If you're a fan of Peaky Blinders and a lover of puzzle games, then Peaky Blinders: Mastermind might be worth a shot. The timeline adds a nice layer of depth often unseen in games of this genre, allowing you to tab between your favourite Shelby family members. But if you're reading this hoping for tales of a brutal stand-off with a rival Birmingham gang, or perhaps an action-packed title to fill the void as you wait for series six, Mastermind might not be the one.
Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is currently slated for a summer 2020 release, so if after this preview you still like the sound of a virtual pint (and quite possibly a fight) down at the Garrison, you don't have long to wait.
Featured Image Credit: Peaky Blinders: Mastermind / Curve Digital