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Blacksad: Under The Skin review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Microïds
Developer: Pendulo Studios
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

I’ll admit I went into Blacksad: Under The Skin with no prior knowledge of the comic on which it’s based. As far as I could see from the trailer, it was basically a ‘50s mystery game, which was good enough to pique my interest. In other words, I can’t really comment on the game’s faithfulness to its source material.

Unfortunately, not everything here works so well — starting, unfortunately, with the game itself. The game has been patched substantially since it was first released, so it no longer crashes constantly, but there are still performance issues all over the place. The load times are ridiculously long, and even in the middle of dialogue and action sequences, there’s a bit of a stutter as the game chugs along.

Within the game, some parts definitely feel clunky. Blacksad — the character, that is — isn’t anywhere near as lithe as a cat, and maneuvering him around various environments is always a challenge. This, in turn, makes examining objects somewhat difficult, since you have to be in just the right spot to press the button to make that happen. It’s the same kind of system you’d see in most adventure games, but it feels more ungainly here than it does in most places.

And, apropos of nothing: the anthropomorphized animal thing occasionally feels a little…well, racist, to be blunt. There’s one scene early on where you find out that the gorillas are black people, and the game explicitly states this as fact. Setting aside the whole question of why animals would talk about skin colour in the first place, it’s hard not to cringe at the mere fact of a gorilla being a stand in for a black person. I don’t think Blacksad necessarily intended it as a slur or a slight, but, all things considered, it’s the sort of thing that really shouldn’t need to be stated. (I’ll also note that portrayals of race are apparently an issue in the comics, too.)

Anyway, despite its flaws — both performance and otherwise — Blacksad: Under The Skin still makes for an interesting game. It’s clunky (in more ways than one), but it’s also got a gripping story at its core, and it’s oozing style. I’ve certainly played better adventure games than this one, but there’s enough interesting stuff going on here that fans of the genre could do worse than checking it out.

Microïds provided us with a Blacksad: Under The Skin Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B