Blue Estate: The Game, based on the graphic novel of the same name by, Viktor Kalvachev came from, well, absolutely nowhere. As far as I can tell, nobody knew it was coming, nobody knew what to expect – it simply appeared on PlayStation Network as if by magic. Rumour has it that an Xbox One, Kinect enabled version is also due out, but as to when that is? Well, that’s just about anyone’s guess. Shit, it could be out right now for all I know.
Either way, the only thing I can confirm is that it is definitely available on PS4, and despite a few minor issues, is a surprisingly enjoyable, old-school on-rail shooter. It does nothing particularly new and adds little to the arcade template, but it’s well made, has a decent script, looks the part, and above all else, it’s accurate.
Given that the control scheme is based upon the Move technology built into the PS4 pad, accuracy was far from guaranteed, but despite its rather unorthodox method of control, works much better than one might have expected. In fact, just about everything about this game is better than I expected. Better writing, better visuals, better gameplay. I might not have had any long standing expectations given that I had no idea the game even existed, but when an on-rails shooter based upon a IP I’ve never heard of suddenly appears on PSN with absolutely zero fanfare, then yeah, I tend to fear the worst.
A kind of pulp noir, this darkly comic take on the world of organised crime is highly stylised and almost always entertaining. Narrated by a brilliantly lame private dick by the name of, Roy Devine Jr, Blue Estate revels in stereotypes and overt sexualisation. That might not sound all that appealing when I put it like that (and some will invariably find its tone somewhat sexist), but this is irreverent fun and certainly no worse than the likes of Sin City. In fact, it’s comedic tone makes its decidedly antiquated take on sexuality much easier to bear.
The reason it works though is the writing. Obviously working from Viktor Kalvachev template, Blue Estate is funny, sharp and really rather silly, but you know what, it works. The characters are likeable and thanks to some simple, but really rather clever uses of the PS4 touchpad, come to life in a way that few characters do in an on-rail shooter. It might be something as pointless as wiping your hair from your eyes in the heat of battle, but it helps add to the games’ unique tone and strong sense of character. Again, nothing game changing, but a nice addition all the same.
The gameplay itself is all rather basic. Other than the aforementioned moments of touchpad control, this is point and shoot gameplay at its purest. There are instances in which you can hide behind cover ala Time Crisis and a few slow motion shoot outs that help break up the understandably repetitive gameplay, but for the majority of its eight beautifully rendered stages, you’ll spend your time shooting thugs in the face and, if you’re anything like me, having a great time doing it.
Blue Estate: The Game is a simplistic, old school arcade shooter with a handful of unique touches and great fundamental mechanics. The writing is entertaining and the world, despite a little bit too much in the way of repetition, is interesting and impressively rendered. Some will certainly fall foul of its comedic styling and stereotype-heavy characterisations, but honestly, I was having too much fun to really care, and anyway, it’s all far too self-deprecating and trivial to find it in any way offensive. Play it, enjoy it, forget about it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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