'Peaky Blinders: Mastermind' Review: A Puzzle-Adventure Game Even The Shelby's Would Play
Peaky Blinders is well and truly a household name when it comes to TV, and Curve Digital wanted a slice of the action with their latest puzzle-adventure title Peaky Blinders: Mastermind.
As expressed in my recent preview, I'm a fan of the series and my expectations immediately skyrocketed when first hearing about a Peaky Blinders based game, but I was left curious as to how well it would translate into the puzzle genre.
Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is set before the events of the first series, and puts you at the heart of the notorious Shelby family which dominates Small Heath, Birmingham. The game is beautifully presented from a top-down perspective, allowing you to individually control each family member's movements. A timeline can be found towards the bottom of the screen, which allows you to be the mastermind behind the Shelby dynasty. The timeline tracks as you progress through each scene, plotting important moments and actions for each playable character. The timeline itself works similarly to John Wick Hex, allowing you to carry out your actions in a timely manner, and hurrying along the pace of the game.
At first, the timeline can be a bit daunting, especially if you are still coming round to the idea of controlling multiple characters at once. To begin with, you might find yourself rewinding too far or not enough as you race to complete objectives against the clock. Eventually though, you'll have it down to a fine art, and you'll be maximising the time you have with each character. The game eases you into the timeline, with a tutorial mission involving Tommy & Ada Shelby stealing champagne for a party later that evening at The Garrison.
As the game progresses, you are introduced to new characters from the Shelby family, familiar faces such as John, Arthur, Ada, and Finn. Each with their own traits which aid you through the streets of Small Heath. Curve Digital has created some really clever environments which can look confusing at first, but once you've got the right character in the right place, everything starts to make sense. Peaky Blinders: Mastermind really comes into its own when you've got a good understanding of the timeline, without that, you won't get very far as each character plays an important role. With all these characters and puzzles to overcome, it can get a little bit confusing at times, but part of that comes with the puzzle genre. The game tries it's hardest to guide you through, by placing circles and coloured objective markers throughout, sometimes this isn't enough, and you can often find the wrong characters miles away behind a one-way door.
To make things harder, each mission has a set of time constraints, which in some instances can really put the pressure on you and force you to rewind back to the start, which can be annoying, especially when you've perfectly timed two characters' in-game movements. Once you reach a checkpoint, you'll be given additional time, but even then you only get a minute or so extra. This is obviously to showcase the importance of the timeline, though some levels do feel a little bit rushed when you are up against the clock all the way through. In a way, it's quite satisfying carefully plotting and navigating the characters through the levels, but with the time constraints it often leaves little time for you to actually appreciate the game for what it is. At the end, each mission is graded either gold, silver or bronze depending on how fast you manage to navigate scenes with fellow Shelby's.
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As you'd expect from the genre, each mission features a unique set of puzzles, which vary from pulling levers, to stealing keys and breaking into jail. However, there's a point in the game when you've discovered all of the Shelby family, these puzzles seem to run out of creativity and begin to become a little monotonous. This is further hindered by the tough time constraints the game enforces, and not having enough time to do the complex puzzles you perhaps might've experienced in games like Portal, which might've had you thinking for 20-30 minutes.
It's easy to get caught up with our expectations when there's a game based on a popular TV series being created, but if you approach it with an open mind, the Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is sure to impress. The game adds exciting elements often unseen in puzzle games which really spice up the genre. Whilst the timeline might be a bit complex for newcomers, the puzzles certainly don't reflect that and can be overcome with ease, once you've got a basic understanding of the characters at your disposal, you'll find yourself causing havoc in no time at all.
Pros: Unique timeline allowing multiple characters to be controlled at the same time and features great period music.
Cons: Time constraints imposed leave areas of the game underappreciated.
For Fans Of: Portal and John Wick Hex
Score 7/10 - Very Good
Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is released on August 20th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. We tested the game on PC using code provided by the publisher. Read a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores (where a 6/10 isn't a bad game!) here.
Featured Image Credit: Peaky Blinders: Mastermind / Curve Digital