Game

Blacksad: Under the Skin review

Originating in the 2000s as a Spanish comic, Blacksad: Under The Skin is now offered as a game developed by Pendulo Studios and published by Microids. You play as Blacksad, a cat detective, in a parallel world of anthropomorphic animals set in 1950s New York. You immediately feel the excitement of The Wolf Among Us, but instead of fairy tale characters with many human traits, these are full-fledged animals that walk and talk like humans.

Detective games can be an unpredictable genre. Their quality often has to do with how engaging the underlying mystery is and how well its mechanics blend with the traditional features of their chosen genre. Spanish developer Pendulo Studios has been making adventure games since the mid-90s, so we started this review of Blacksad: Under the Skin with a great sense of anticipation.

Blacksad: Under the Skin review

In the game’s story, Blacksad is faced with a suspected suicide case where the owner of a boxing gym hangs himself, but all is not as it seems. It’s up to Blacksad to solve this case and risk the lives of 9 cats to uncover the truth. You start the game pretty aggressively, with the first few quick time events placed sporadically. Next, you are faced with the main element of the game, which is the speaking options. Much like Telltale games, each way of speaking you choose has an impact on the story and also shapes your Blacksad character’s personality.

Blacksad seems to share many elements with others of the same genre and also feels like he puts his own unique mark on everything. There are quick time events and choices to speak with animal-like characters. It is also very serious and includes much more adult violence. You have to search the rooms and make inferences to find the clues. So, if you are a fan of such in-game items, then I think you will enjoy Blacksad.

Blacksad: Under the Skin gameplay

The speech parts of the game are quite strong. Usually one option is offered per button and you don’t have much time to choose. This causes you to make snap decisions and not overthink every choice. Bad choices potentially mislead you and make the game more interesting in my opinion. You’ll also have the option to retry so that if you make a wrong choice and this leads to a game ending, such as dying, you can choose a different option that advances the story.

The inference part is also pretty fun, but you really can’t fail and smart minds can put them together pretty quickly. The most interesting element they have is how you can use your cat senses to give yourself an advantage in certain scenarios. Sometimes during conversations, you’ll see a cat option that, when selected, will slow down time around you and allow you to use one of your cat senses to pick up things that might aid research. For example, you can use your cat vision to see documents people are holding, you can use your cat’s sense of smell to smell perfume or unseen people, or you can use your cat’s hearing to watch someone’s heartbeat to help gauge how honest they are.

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What kind of game is Blacksad: Under the Skin?

The scenes are usually pretty well set up, the character designs are varied and cleverly drawn, and the slow jazz music pulls you into a pretty noir feel. Then you try to move your character. When you find a place of interest, it will be highlighted on the screen for you to press the A button. Quick time alerts, on the other hand, usually occur without any prior warning. Quick time events fall into a category where some love them and some hate them. The fact that they have no warnings and the timing is so fast I’m not sure how many people would enjoy using it in this game but I think this could have been handled better.

For longevity, there are some side quests to keep you busy during the main story. While searching all areas, you may also stumble upon the Hall of Fame, which are collectible-only items to add to your animal sports heroes’ sticker book. There are also 6 possible endings to the game depending on your preferences throughout the game, thus giving you a reason to play the game differently to come back and see other results.

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Blacksad: Under The Skin is a fun detective game and the gritty noir story is very gripping. You care about what happens to your cat man detective and you’ll want to get to the bottom of the crime. All the other characters in the game are interesting and varied, and the fact that they’re animals makes things a little more fun. But when moving Blacksad, the controls are so slow and cumbersome that they disappoint the gameplay a bit, ruining the desire to fully explore the world.

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