Analysis of Blacksad: Under the Skin, Pendulo’s new graphic adventure

Written by Kamran Haider

We are John Blacksad, a private detective from New York … And a cat. In this adventure set in the universe of comics and created by Pendulo Studios, we will accompany the detective in a mysterious murder case in which, as the canons command, not everything is as it seems. Blacksad analysis: Under the Skin.

As the graphic adventures changed, one of the most difficult ballasts to let go was always the inventory. The objects in the pocket were the skeleton of its design, which allowed you to create ingenious combinations and, ultimately, integrate the puzzle into the story. Today, it is more difficult to assimilate an inventory if the adventure does not have touches of humor. You can carry lipstick or a monkey in your pocket if you are Guybrush Threepwood, but not if you are a private cat detective like Blacksad. I think Pendulo has been ingenious in turning the protagonist’s thoughts into ideas that roam his deductive mind. It’s not something new, we’ve seen it in other games like Sherlock Holmes orThe ABC Murders, although never in a more cinematic adventure like Blacksad: Under the Skin.

Thus, this game based on the famous comic has the spirit divided under the skin. Its appearance is that of production in the style of The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us but tries to give more depth to the investigations under the search for clues and deductions that the detective will make. The result is interesting because it is sought at all times that the adventure is not always played alone, under a lot of cinematics, but that there are free spaces to be traveled by the player collecting evidence and ideas. The pace, however, is not as well achieved.

Everything in Under the Skin has a too slow cadence

John Blacksad maybe a cat, but his movement is really slow. It even despairs. Everything in Under the Skin has a very slow cadence. The scenes are developed with long camera movements. The exchange of dialogues lacks agility, because after saying each one of the sentences the plans are stretched unnecessarily, either by finishing some animations or because the next line of text does not finish jumping, affecting the dialectical battle. Even in the sequences most directed to the action, this seems to pass with some slowness.

The palm, however, is taken by the speed of John Blacksad himself, which makes every moment of exploration desperate. Whenever he turns around or hits an obstacle, the pace of the game suffers a new downturn. If you join this to a certain inheritance of the pixel hunting, having to approach a hot spot very precisely until button A appears, the combination is somniferous.

Too bad, because the story of Blacksad: Under the Skin wants to continue with interest. Like any detective novel, it can be somewhat overwhelmed in the early stages, before the irrigation of names and past events, but the game comes out of these juggling based on good script twists and high situations. During the conversations with the different characters that populate this tough New York, we will have to make decisions, sometimes moral or how to proceed next. There are some interesting examples, but more than once the game marks that message to The Walking Dead that warns us of a consequence that we do not always see represented on the screen. In others, the action is so quick, in which we have to decide a dialogue in a little less than a few seconds, that it does not allow time to read all the options correctly.Skin

Blacksad: Under the Skin, seven lives

The problem, then, is not so much in the paper as in the transfer to the screen. Where those written lines could be read with a comfortable speed in black and white, when shaping the sequences they lose intensity, largely affected by those rhythm problems and also abundant technicians that affect the experience.

We were advised that on the day of launch, the game would arrive with a patch that would solve some problems, but with the work finished, I don’t know if they will be able to solve all those that I have suffered in my adventure. It is not just some slowdowns, which make slow-walking even more distressing, but problems of concordance in the branching of decisions, dialogues that do not correspond or are poorly synchronized, phrases are spoken by a different voice, lack of correlation in animations, texts not found … If all this is arranged for launch, the gaming experience will undoubtedly improve greatly, although, as I say, not all shortcomings come technically.

Its mixture of modern and cinematic adventure with classic touches of exploration is very striking.

The dubbing itself, which supports a good part of the narration, is not quite successful. Its actors have a somewhat automatic performance, as if they were out of context, with a neutral record in almost all situations and, when you have to get an emotion out of a tense, dangerous or sad situation, they rarely get it. Starting with John Blacksad himself, whose role hardly suffers variation throughout the plot. It is a pity because the atmosphere of the game is achieved. The harsh lighting, the contrasts, the night and the colors of a postwar America, which reflect the design of the comic on which it is based in the three-dimensional passage. It makes you interested in the universe of Blacksad that is still a true reflection of our own world, with anthropomorphic animals of protagonists.

Maybe there are some parts of John Blacksad’s personal conflict that I would have liked to deepen more, but in general, Under the Skin has a good formal structure of a detective novel, with all the ingredients to enjoy it in a very original world, which also Accompany with a soundtrack that helps even more to get into the atmosphere. It has a striking mix of modern and cinematic adventure with classic touches of exploration.It is basic, do not expect anything very challenging in this exploration and, as in The Walking Dead, some of its decisions give the illusion of freedom, while others have small variations as a consequence. The problem is not, in short, the story or its structure, but that staging, which balks, frustrates and puts too many obstacles to the player to be enjoyed. Like a cat that refuses to be petted, unless he feels like it.

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Blacksad: Under the Skin contains an interesting detective plot that faithfully adapts the tone and the comic, building its mystery and mixing modern adventure with traditional touches. It is in his staging where he falters, with a slow, frustrating rhythm and with a development that lacks polishing, which discourages the player from occasions of wanting to move on. Accompanied, in addition, a series of technical problems that are accumulating in all areas.

  • Well built and intriguing story.
  • Interesting mix of cinematic adventure with classic touches.
  • Frustrating rhythm, with very clumsy movements.
  • Staging with clear lack of polishing in conversations, animations and dubbing.
  • Problems and technical bugs everywhere.

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Kamran Haider

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