If you’re a fan of the award-winning BBC and Netflix series Peaky Blinders and also enjoy playing video games, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is something that will catch your attention.
The best thing about games is that they allow us to literally (actually figuratively) be in the world of our favorite TV show, series, or book. But how well does the Peaky Blinders: Mastermind game live up to our expectations?
First things first, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is a puzzle adventure video game set in post-WWI Birmingham, the same time frame when the show is set. The game enables players to join the Shelby crime gang, take up important roles, and navigate carefully designed plans.
All in all, it is the wild card to live life like the Shelbys in 20th century England with more or less similar features as is common with any game based on a show or book. However, the game has some disappointing features as well.
Peaky Blinders: Mastermind adequately represents the show’s dark theme and atmosphere but fails to give its players a unique experience. It fails to make a mark until it reaches the final two levels. However, it may be a one-time good experience for Peaky Blinders fans.
1. What Is Peaky Blinders: Mastermind about?
Set in 1919 Birmingham, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is a puzzle adventure video game based on the popular British crime drama. The game has been developed by FuturLab and published by Curve Digital and is available on Nintendo Switch, PC platforms, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
The game allows players to take up the roles of popular characters from the show, including Thomas Shelby, Arthur Shelby, Ada, Finn, and Aunt Polly. Since the game is set before the beginning of the first season of Peaky Blinders, the scheme or puzzle in the game does not resemble plotlines from the original show.
I feel that is a plus point because if the game would imitate the exact plotline of the show, then there would be no element of surprise. I mean, we already know what happens in the show unless you are playing the game without having watched the series (which is unlikely).
The characters in the game look exactly like the actors who play these roles in the show. So, Tommy Shelby looks like Cillian Murphy in the series; Aunt Polly resembles Helen McCory in the show, etc.
But there is a lack of voiceovers, which robs off the feel and the personality of these characters. The game could have improved in this department, to be honest.
The players can choose between characters and take control of their actions. For example, as a player, you can choose to control Tommy and beat up some enemies. Since progress requires many characters to work together, a player can assume multiple roles.
The “Mastermind” in the title refers to Tommy’s ability to create scenarios in his head. As a player, you get to take up the role of any character and exercise this power. You can alter each character’s actions to create the perfect scenario at an optimum time level.
The game is all about having a virtual adventure in 20th century Birmingham, and the character names and faces resembling those from Peaky Blinders are like cherry on the cake.
2. How Is the Game Related to the Show?
The game is set in post-World War I England, the same time frame as the show. But it is placed before the first season of Peaky Blinders, so it does not make the players go through the same course of events.
Apart from that, the game is related to the show in the sense that the atmosphere, the environment, and the characters are the same. There are no voiceovers, but the characters resemble those in the show, and the dialogues also have the typical old British feel.
The character’s actions are designed keeping the show in mind. For example, the Shelby brothers are seen doing the kind of things they generally do in the show, such as fighting the enemy or outsmarting their ploys to get the Shelby family in trouble.
The game was designed keeping in mind the enormous fan base of the BBC show and is meant mainly for big fans of the original show. But that is not to say that those unfamiliar with the show cannot play the game.
However, I would personally recommend it to those who are fans of the show because it does not have much scope of creativity to offer for even the fans, let alone a non-fan.
3. How Many Levels Are There?
Peaky Blinders: Mastermind has ten levels, and each level introduces a new aspect of the adventure like any other video game. Each puzzle has a single, fixed solution which leaves little room for creativity for the player.
The player is given a challenge at each level, and the way to solve it is pretty much explained in each puzzle. It is like the solution is being spoonfed to you.
The game will take you much less than the average six-hour run time of one season of Peaky Blinders, and the only time you come across a real challenge where you can use your own ideas is in the final two levels.
In the final two levels, the player can have all five Shelbys along with Aunt Polly under their control. It was hard for me to decide whether this was a pro or a con. On one hand, you feel utmost frustration that the game took eight whole levels to begin trusting the player.
On the other hand, it is the two final levels that actually test your skills because you have complete control of the game. If only the game had been designed in this way from the first level itself, it would probably have been a much better experience.
4. How to Play Peaky Blinders: Mastermind?
The game does not leave much for the player to decide, so at its best, it is a predetermined adventure where every clue is prefixed, and there is one particular way to play the game.
There are ten levels, and in each level, the player can take up the role of one or more of the characters involved. The player is supposed to navigate through each level, assuming the role of these characters.
As a player, you have to direct the Shelbys through scripted puzzles by combining their skills and abilities. The game also includes manipulating the timeline and finally pulling off an elaborate heist.
For example, a player can make Finn climb through small tunnels or spaces; John burn down obstacles and Arthur batter folk. Tommy can be made to do specific tasks such as pass a set of keys through a window or hold a door for other characters to get their job done.
Ada has the task of distracting the police while her brothers beat up enemies and kick down doors. The players will be told what to do using each character, and they simply have to do the said task to move to the next level.
The main aim of the game is to get the protagonists to the right place at the right time. You can make one character fight goons while others escape and make another one hold a lever to open a door. The motive is the same.
If this was not enough spoonfeeding, the players are allowed to rewind the timeline and go back to a particular stage to alter the characters’ actions. For example, if you get caught up in the enemy’s trap and can no longer proceed, you can easily just go back to where you began and correct your mistakes.
So there is no winning or losing because it is no big deal if you make a wrong move. Imagine you are playing chess, but if you make a wrong move, you’re allowed to go back and change it. That is how this game goes.
It is only in the two final levels where this structure is changed. In these levels, a player can take control of all the characters together. These are the levels where the game depends more on the player’s mind than on prefixed outcomes.
In these levels, you have to strategically use each character to your benefit to reach your aim, and here’s the chance you get as a player to use your creativity.
5. Verdict: Is Peaky Blinders: Mastermind worth It?
Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is a good one-time game but cannot hold on to the player’s interest through the ten levels. The actions get repetitive after a time, and there is no scope of creativity or thinking until the last levels.
The last levels actually give the players a glimpse of what Mastermind could have been only if the entire game was created like the final two levels. In short, the game is not worth it, even if you are a massive fan of the show.
The characters have been designed well, and the game’s overall atmosphere has been styled keeping in mind its source material. The game was thus able to create at least some of the feels of the original show. But it is not enough to remain hooked to the game.
6. About Peaky Blinders
Peaky Blinders is a British period crime drama television series created by Steven Knight. Set in Birmingham, England, the series follows the exploits of the Shelby crime family and their leader Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) in the direct aftermath of the First World War.
The fictional family is loosely based on a real urban youth gang of the same name, active in the city from the 1890s to the early 20th century. It stars Cillian Murphy, Sam Claflin, Aidan Gillen, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Finn Cole, and Tom Hardy
Peaky Blinders season 6, which is also its last, will premiere on February 27 on BBC One.