Blacksad: Under the Skin Review

BlackSad: Under The Skin
Release Date
November 5, 2019
Single-player video game
PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC
Our Score

Blacksad: Under the Skin, based on a comic from the early 2000s, is about a private investigator hired to find and bring back a missing boxer after his training coach turns up dead. As Blacksad, you walk around in a point and click adventure game similar to titles from Telltale Games or even classics such as Sam and Max. As you explore and discover clues, you’ll get notes that your character will always keep in mind. As you gain enough knowledge you’ll be able to form deductions that will lead you to the next part of the case.

At certain points in the game, you’ll also reach moments where you’ll have to make decisions that will alter later events in the story. For example, you can reveal incriminating photos of one character to your client. Doing so will leave you in bad graces so that the next time you run into them, they’ll be angry to see you. However, if you withhold the photos, you might be seen in a more favorable light and he may even help you in your case. You’ll also have moments where you choose dialogue options that’ll change your character thoughts, actions, and even quick time events. If you’ve played anything from Telltale Games or even other series like Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange, then you’ll no doubt have seen many of the game’s mechanics before.

One specific thing to note is that with many other games that came before Blacksad, silence or no taking no action at all is always an option. It’s seldom the most favorable or even correct option. However Blacksad not only has many moments where doing nothing is a viable option, but it even contributes to a specific stat that gets kept track of. It’s refreshing to see.

That being said, this game is riddled with mechanical problems which make Blacksad at times frustrating and at worst completely unplayable. If activated, the tutorials can bug the game into slowing everything down to an abysmal crawl. Music cuts off suddenly and prompts fail to load which soft locks the game. While reviewing this, the game crashed several times in every attempt to continue on with the story. Many times this forced me to start the game all the way from the very beginning.

While it’s great to see new attempts at the point and click adventure genre outside the usual developers, but not when the game is full of problems like this. The original PC version had a day one patch that had fixed many of the issues listed before, but the Playstation 4 version has been out for a long time at this point and the same problems are still present. This will definitely turn many people at from playing Blacksad despite its interesting setup. When the tutorials are disabled, it doesn’t hold your hand through the game very often, if at all.

Unfortunately, even with the tutorial disabled the game still has the glitches and the soft locking issues, albeit much less often. Even so, the game is prone to crashing and freezing. Sometimes reloading the game is all you need, but without it constantly remembering your progress and decisions made earlier, you’ll find yourself backtracking and repeating the same parts of the game over and over. It made playing the game less and less interesting and just feels as if you only go through the motions.

Outside of the mentioned problems, the only other gripe that might irk some people is that the characters and setting are highlighted in the tone of the classic film noir or detective movies you’d see in the 1950’s but only with animal heads instead of human heads. It’s not a bad stylistic choice, but it might not be for everyone. For every one character that looks good, there are some that look either out of place or just downright strange to look at, which may take you out of the game.

If Blacksad: Under the Skin were to get another patch, or even an overhaul on how the game runs, then this would be a solid recommendation. Until that happens, however, it’s hard to suggest giving the game a chance at least on PlayStation 4. The PC version of the game may very well be the way to go, but make sure that the game is up to date with all the latest patches to try to keep the experience as smooth as possible.

Blacksad: Under the Skin Review
Bugs, failed loading prompts, and rough tutorials make Blacksad Under the Skin a tough recommendation. The PC version has patches that address these issues, but those fixes don't seem to be present in the PlaySstation 4 version.