Blacksad: Under The Skin is a detective adventure game by Pendulo Studios, based off of an ongoing comic series of the same titular name by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido. Think the gritty realism of LA Noire meeting the charm and anthropomorphic style of Sly Cooper.
Released in November, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Classic Mac OS
The stage is set, Bobby Yale VS the reigning champ Al Stone in a boxing match at Madison Square Garden! However, the shocking discovery of a beloved gym coach’s apparent suicide has put the match and industry in jeopardy. It’s up to private investigator John Blacksad to peel back the layers of chicanery and monkeyshines to reveal what’s Under The Skin.
Set against a backdrop of New York; the concrete jungle wet dream tomato (or whatever Alicia Keys said), you’ll find all manner of anthropomorphic animals from all walks of life, more often than not carefully reflecting stereotypes of the real world with exceptional voice acting and beautiful animation.
Our titular character, Blacksad, is everything a crime solving cat should be; smooth, witty, handsome and a big ol’ softie or a brooding nihilist depending on how he’s feeling (or how you decide to play). A sultry silken voiceover by Barry Johnson combined with a stoically calm demeanour makes this character the coolest cat in town.
The story is overly typical of your favourite noir and whodunnit stories and that’s never a bad thing. They’re always so much fun to unravel and solve, especially in this case with a wide variety of possible suspects and motives. I’ve yet to replay the game to try and invert my statistics so I am unaware if said inversion of my results will award me with an alternate ending, it looks promising though!
As with any good detective game, you’ll be searching for clues and asking questions to solve a crime and Blacksad: Under The Skin is no different. It’s closest comparison is Rockstar’s LA Noire with some deviations, both good and bad.
What separates this game from the pack is its logistical and varied mechanics, including an actual solving window where you combine the information you’ve collected to connect the dots. As a smooth-talking feline, your wits will only get you so far before you need to put your cat-like reflexes and enhanced senses to the test with slow motion hot spot scenes and QT events. As well as the primal tools of a cat, Blacksad never leaves his office without his trusty lockpick.
On top of this, your quickdraw decisions and emotional connections to each character have consequences and this allows for an inclusive experience that demands your attention. The game is forgiving enough of your mistakes – if you don’t mind seeing your beloved Blacksad die in a variety of painfully callous game over scenarios, but some mistakes will stick with you forever.
A problem with the game however, is that is riddled with bugs, and not the buzzing anthropomorphic kind. I initially put the game down months ago because the flow and my progress were interrupted several times by crashes. Upon returning to the game, those issues have mostly subsided but there are still fuzzy textures and choppy frame rates that could break the immersion. Alas, it’s part of the wider issue of releasing games before they are completely bug-tested.
In conclusion, Blacksad: Under The Skin is a gem of a noir detective story set in a coffee stained New York jungle full of interesting and likeable animals. With an initial playtime of 7-9 hours and the addition of replayability, there is more than enough gameplay to enjoy here.
If it weren’t for the multiple bugs, especially of the game breaking variety, this game would be a cult classic masterpiece. Until such time as the developers continue to fix said bugs, I would say wait for a final update or discounted price. If you have an itch for a unique and engaging interactive noir story however, I suggest you have a scratch at this to once more with a brooding voice, reveal what’s Under The Skin.
Let us know your thoughts on Blacksad: Under The Skin, your thoughts on the original comic series and what your favourite noir and whodunnit stories are!
Buy tickets for BGCP Comic Con in and around Glasgow Scotland – BUY TICKETS
If you want to be part of the BGCP community, Join us on Discord, Twitter, Instagram etc then click HERE