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Peaky Blinders: Mastermind Review (PS4)

Don’t **** with the Peaky Blinders!

Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is all about what could be accomplished in a calculated moment. Because if there’s one lesson to take away from 2020, it’s how precious the moment is. Especially now, in a world where there is too much free time on our hands or too little of it, depending on circumstance and situation. It’s all about “The Soldier’s Minute,” as the developers have called it. The actions are taken in a single moment, and that can cause a huge impact.

Having played everything that this game has to offer, including obtaining the platinum trophy for it, I can easily summarize the ‘Peaky Blinders: Mastermind’ experience as ten levels of gameplay that feel like the final strategic moments of The Godfather films. The result is a highly entertaining experience, even if you happen to be unfamiliar with the source material.


The Peaky What Now?

Peaky Blinders is a BBC Crime-drama that debuted on September 13th, 2013. The concept is based on Birmingham, England’s actual Peaky Blinders; Gangs known to sew razor blades into the peaks of their caps as hidden weaponry, consisting of veterans, mob bosses, enforcers, and racketeers. A group of blue-collar gangsters formed out of the struggles of Post-WWI’s working-class England.

That said, the TV series is an entertaining, yet nonetheless embellished adaptation of the histories of actual Peaky Blinder gangsters. Set in the year 1919, the show follows the adventures, betrayals, and eventual rise to power of the Shelby family. Cillian Murphy stars in the lead role as Mob Boss, Thomas Shelby. A PTSD suffering mastermind who serves as both the brains and the leader of his crime family.


The Mastermind of Time and Strategy

Developed by FuturLab and published by Curve Digital, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is a puzzle-adventure game utilizing time management strategy. It was launched on August 20th and was adapted from the acclaimed British TV series.

Just like Thomas Shelby, the player will be playing as the family’s head strategist. They will also be default TV episode editor and director, dictating the actions of every Shelby by the second. All while navigating different character objectives. The goal is to reach the end of a chapter’s story by carefully timing each character’s interactions and special abilities.

What makes this game incredibly fun is that you also completely manipulate time. Because underneath the screen where all the action is, there’s an informal version of a movie editor where you can see when each character executes an action on the timeline. Different symbols showcase different actions and abilities.

Having each character run simultaneously is unbelievably cool to see, turning minutes of actions into tens of minutes. All while playing, exploring, and then subsequently rewinding to plan out every persons’ best course of action. If you like the heist stories or complex schemes executed amongst a cavalcade of characters like in the Ocean’s Eleven movies: this is pretty much the entire game.


Everyone’s a whore, Grace. We just sell different parts of ourselves.

In Peaky Blinders: Mastermind, you mainly play as Tommy but also get control of the other characters from the series, as each Shelby family member plays a different part in the story. Each has specialties that fit their personality. Tommy dictates orders to Peaky Blinders NPCs, Arthur and John are good at beating up people, Ada distracts guards and gathers the intel, and Aunt Polly is amazing at bribing police. On top of this, every character can also hold doors, pull levers, and exchange items between characters such as lanterns and keys.

All of these features are utilized during real-time moments to overcome puzzles involving pickpocketing, navigating hallways, avoiding police, and/or distracting or beating up a lot of bad people. Likewise, there are also a lot of different conversations the Shelby family can have with in-game NPCs, along with cutscenes between levels featuring a storyline that I thought was very fitting. Though for those uninterested in the story (or attempting a perfect playthrough), all dialogue can also be skipped.


Good Taste is For People Who can’t afford Sapphires

I honestly think that this game could’ve easily stood out as its own puzzle-solving adventure. The fact that it takes place in the Peaky Blinder’s universe only accentuates how fun it is to play.  I think it’s exactly worth its asking price, as rewinding things feels like such a rewarding superpower in the same vein as Life is Strange or Prince of Persia.

You can use time manipulation to scout the map or find a missed pocket watch. It’s also helpful if you want a stress-free gaming experience, as rewinding makes the game impossible to fail. My only problem was that fast forward skips don’t seem to work anywhere near as well as rewind, which won’t matter much for most of the game but does become annoying when you reach the game’s final two levels, which were an extremely challenging experience.

The plot is also surprisingly good and feels like a storyline taken right out of the early seasons of Peaky Blinders. With gangs who run the town yet have noble intentions, and police who are often as corrupt as criminals. The only slightly distasteful thing about the game is the reoccurring references to ‘The Chinese,’ but it’s very much the same language used in the TV show.


May You be in Heaven a full Half-Hour before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

To elucidate why Mastermind is also worth the experience – it is a pretty easy platinum trophy for trophy hunters (like myself). Each of the 10 levels bear a ranking of Gold, Silver, and Bronze depending on how fast you finished the mission. What’s nice is that the medals are based on your final runtime but not your actual playtime, meaning you can scout, rewind, and perfect the timing while still item hunting all in one playthrough. You can also pause the game to see exactly what time you need to finish.


Plan for a Good Time

It’s abundantly clear that James Marsden and the team at Futurlab put a lot of love into developing Peaky Blinders: Mastermind. Not only is it a fun game that gets satisfyingly more challenging the closer you get to the end, but it also shows great respect for its source material, hitting all the right story beats for a Peaky Blinders tale.

 

Final Verdict: 4.5/5

 

Available on: PS4 (Reviewed), Switch, Xbox One, PC; Developer: FuturLab; Publisher: Curve Digital; Players: 1; Released: August 20th, 2020; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $24.99

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A screenplay and comic book writer who grew up on playing everything Blizzard and Final Fantasy, Christian is a part-time entertainment journalist who covers just about everything. He loves attending conventions, meeting fellow creatives, and of course, gaming.

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