[PlayStation 4] Blacksad: Under the Skin Review

by ThaRaven403

Based on the Spanish comic series of the same name, Blacksad: Under the Skin follows detective John Blacksad as he investigates the mysterious death of a gym club owner. Find out if the title’s worth playing in our Blacksad: Under the Skin review!

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BLACKSAD: Under the Skin – A dark corruption scandal in the heart of the New York City’s underworld for charismatic detective John Blacksad!

The game’s title screen shows someone hung over a boxing ring, and as you press the X button, you’ll get to see someone enter the gym and witness a dead body. You are then transported to the office of John Blacksad, an anthropomorphic cat, when a rhino comes in his office yelling about some pictures the detective took of him. After a short conversation that quickly turns into a fight (that all serves as a tutorial for the game), you’ll get to take your first decision that will potentially impact the story.

You’ll subsequently receive the visit of your friend, a gorilla named Jake. He is accompanied by Sonia Dunn, the daughter of the gym club owner who recently died. The main reason she requests your help is that a talented boxer who was her father’s protégé, has vanished without a trace. Since her father’s death occurred on the same day, Blacksad’s feline senses kick in as he decides to help to find the boxer, and also try to find what has happened to the girl’s father.

If you’ve played any release from Telltale Games, then you’ll feel right at home with this one. The majority of the conversations you’ll be having will provide you with a choice of answers, with some of them on a timer, that will potentially affect your relationship with the characters you’re talking with. In other sequences, the early game fight with the rhino being a good example, you’ll have to either press or mash buttons in quick time events (QTE) to ensure your survival. When walking around to investigate, certain hotspots will allow you to press the X button to explore them in more depth, with a few spots to investigate so that you can gather clues.

Blacksad: Under the Skin Review

Where the game differs a bit from traditional point and click games is with the investigation parts. In some situations, you’ll be able to activate your Cat Senses. Said moments allow you to view things in a bit of a slow-motion sequence in which you’ll be able to find and focus specific spots on the scene that your hearing, sight, or smell detect. Most of the time, what you discover there will be added to your clues so that you can eventually make some important deductions. Accessing your Deductions screen with the R1 button, you’ll see the different clues you have at the moment, and selecting those that match will help you advance in your investigation.

The game’s visuals follow the same noir vibe that the comics have, which makes for a great atmosphere when playing the game. Everything, from the locations to the characters, all have a great portrayal of their animal aspect, and they do transport you to the 1950’s era. The soundtrack also does a great job of fitting with the whole theme, so it all comes together nicely to get you into the overall mood of the game and the genre.

Blacksad: Under the Skin Review

When you take the nice audiovisuals, add an interesting and intriguing story, and some great character designs from the Blacksad universe, it seems to be shaping up to be an incredible game, and from that point of view, it does deliver. The game quickly starts with your investigation, so you don’t have a long setup before things kick in, and it doesn’t take a lot of time before you start being suspicious about pretty much everyone you come across. It’s easy to get carried away on why someone would be involved in the whole thing, so you really have to investigate everything you can and gather every possible clue you can find.

On the other hand, though, there are a few things that come and ruin things up a bit. The first is the game’s stability. There are long loading screens (sometimes around 30 seconds or so), and sometimes they even occur during an in-game sequence, so you’re just looking at your character dangle around as if the game had frozen up, only to see them suddenly awake and carry on. Other times, you’re not so lucky, and the game remains stuck, so you have to back out to the main menu and reload. One time, I even got a game crash during my backing out to the main menu.

Blacksad: Under the Skin Review

And then, there are the controls. A feline should be able to move smoothly, swiftly, with all the agility bestowed upon it. Blacksad feels more like a tank. There’s unfortunately nothing smooth in the controls, and doing simple things such as turning 90 degrees feels like a chore since there’s a split second where he stops before turning, and moving around quickly becomes painful.

As for the trophies, many that will unlock naturally while playing the game, but there are a lot of specific things to do, as well as having to reach additional endings, which will likely require more than one playthrough. There’s are also some sports cards you have to find for your Hall of Fame book, that act as the game’s collectibles, and they are hidden throughout the city, so you’ll need to find all of them if you want to add another Platinum to your collection.

Final Thoughts
Blacksad: Under the Skin has everything to be an incredible game. The universe of Blacksad is incredibly cool and original, the story is great, and when you’re a fan of point-and-click style games, this one has a lot to offer. Hopefully the team patches the game so that the issues I had during my time with it are fixed.

This Blacksad: Under the Skin review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Microïds.

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