When I heard that there was going to be a Reservoir Dogs game at this year’s PAX East, I was beyond excited. Of all the Quentin Tarantino films I’d ever seen, this one always stuck with me the most. This film was the perfect example of what made Tarantino such a powerhouse of a filmmaker. And with the unique way he told this story, I was so intrigued by the thought of a video game attempting to recapture this crazy tale of violence and deception. Big Star Games, a game studio based out of Barcelona, Spain, took up the task of bringing this cult classic film to a video game audience.
Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days is an interesting and yet appropriate take on turning a Tarantino film into a game. The player is introduced to our favorite color-named characters we know and love from the film in a way that is recognizable but unique to itself as well. At first glance, it looks to be your usual top-down game. As more characters are introduced, however, a special ability is unlocked that makes the game immediately more interesting. Because you can only control one character at a time, eventually you will be put in tough situations where one of your teammates may become cornered and die. Instead of letting them die, you have the ability to rewind time and take control of the character’s teammate. As you control this teammate, your original character continues the same path you made for him earlier. The time it takes for your first character to complete their task and rewind is the amount of time you are given to play as the second character.
Sounds confusing, right? The first time you see this in action in the beginning of the game it’s seems hard to grasp. It isn’t until you get to use this trick in the middle of a tense shootout that you get the full impact of your choice. This option to rewind time and change your teammate’s fate is a truly engaging feeling as a player. It also fits well with Tarantino’s ability to tell a story in a nonlinear format.
As you move through each level you pick up new weapons and even get to rob the location you’re in. This aspect of the gameplay is very reminiscent of 2012’s Hotline Miami, as you go through clearing different areas and picking up new weapons. The story is the only part of this game that I felt was lacking a bit and it could be due to a few variables. The developers did work very closely with Lionsgate, the company behind the film, but were not able to get the actors from the film to be involved or use their likeness, hence the character designs seeming different at first, but instead coming across as characterizations of their personalities. There were sections of the story where it felt like something completely unrelated to the film, but that certainly didn’t detriment the essence of the gameplay. The gameplay, at its core, is still a very enjoyable top-down shooter.
When you have such a respected and loved film like Reservoir Dogs, making a video game that both stays true to what fans love about while trying to be unique can be very difficult. In a way, it was almost better that this was a top-down shooter game for PC because the focus was more on the gameplay as opposed to making it look like the film. For me, the ability to rewind and save a character is something that I’ve only seen in a few other games. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the game as much as I did without this ability.
Bloody Days is a very solid attempt at recreating the tension, action, and magic of a cult classic film. With the ability to change the fate of other characters, the player is given the power to complete missions to their fullest potential, and with a cool ranking system, is encouraged to go back to past levels and try to do better or get more loot. As far as the story as presented in the game goes, I personally would have liked for the game could have been a little more rooted into the film. The narrative is designed to be a prologue that leads the characters to the point at which the film begins, but I felt it would have been cool to see (or hear) some of the original cast reprising their roles from the film, but the sound editing and level design convey this well enough to set the tone and make you laugh at recognizable one liners. Overall this game is a good tribute to a classic film in a way that innovates on gameplay, and a very good addition to Big Star Games’ collection of titles to recommend.