I’ll just go ahead and put it out there that I’m a huge Blacksad fan. As soon as I picked up the first story of it, I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading the well crafted stories or stop looking at the heavily detailed, gorgeous artwork by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido. So of course I was all aboard the hype train when I found out that a video game based off this awesome series was coming. Sadly, Blacksad: Under the Skin doesn’t quite live up to the comics, as it does barely enough to get by, provided you can work past its multiple bugs and sluggish gameplay.
For those unfamiliar with the world of Blacksad, it takes in 1950s New York where everyone is an anthropomorphic animal. Enter our hero, John Blacksad, a hard-boiled private investigator that has pretty good luck solving mysteries, but little luck in finding love. The story starts with a brief tutorial of sorts as Blacksad resolves a problem with a Rhino guy cheating on his wife. The game will continue to offer tips on how to move around, interact with items and clues, and even use your cat senses to pick up extra clues so that you can make deductions.
When you have enough clues, you can enter Blacksad’s mind palace and put them together to move ahead in your investigation. Afterwards, the main story begins where John takes on a case dealing with a missing boxer and a dead gym owner that’s also the manager of said boxer. You’ll have to use all of your deduction skills to figure out what happened while also asking questions and fighting through quick-time-events along the way.
For the most part this title seems to be solid at first, from the decent graphics and cool 50s jazz tunes, to the nice looking backgrounds that try to capture the hustle and bustle of the city and the way it looks in the comics, to the voice acting that’s ok most times and not so good at others (not feeling Blacksad’s voice that sounds a bit old and muffled). But then you start to move around and interact with things and you can tell right away it doesn’t feel right. Blacksad is extremely sluggish and controls like a tank ala the 1996 Resident Evil game, and you’ll also come across bugs and glitches that show how rushed the game is.
There’s numerous times where sound effects won’t play or are missing, lip sync issues, and sometimes voices will overlap in a jarring but funny way. This is also one of those games where you’ll often get lost on what to do next, either because you’re genuinely stumped or because of glitches that won’t let you proceed like deductions that won’t go together even though they’re supposed to. Oh and I hope you like rewatching unskippable cutscenes a lot, as if you make the wrong choice, fail one of the QTEs which are often easy to do since most will appear out of nowhere and only give you a second or so to react, or the game bugs out and you have to continue, you’ll have to sit through the last long one all over again.
I really wanted to like Blacksad: Under the Skin more, I really did. But with the glitches and bugs, and not knowing what to do next and even worse not knowing if it’s because of you or the game’s fault, makes it hard to recommend. Perhaps after some much-needed patches and its console release next month it might become a better game, but for now you’re better off reading Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido’s amazing comics and wishing for a movie or series (like I am) instead.