Game director James Marsden speaks with GamingBolt about FuturLab’s upcoming strategy Peaky Blinders title.
As a highly successful and extremely beloved TV series, Peaky Blinders is by no means an unknown quantity, but as far as the gamed industry is concerned, it hasn’t exactly made a lot of waves. With the upcoming Peaky Blinders: Mastermind, developers FuturLab are looking to do that in interesting ways. Their idea for how to adapt the property as a strategy game sounds like a very intriguing one, and so recently, to learn more about the game and what we can expect from it, we recently sent across some of our questions to its developers. You can read our conversation with game director James Marsden below.
"The creators of the show are excited about the game and we’ve been duty bound to execute on our design to the best of our ability. We’re fans of the show ourselves, and we know it has many fans around the world – so we really don’t want to let anyone down."
Peaky Blinders has a massive fan following around the world. Does making a game based on the property come with a certain amount of pressure?
Absolutely, although – we wouldn’t have pitched for it if we hadn’t come up with a concept which we felt strongly reflected the values of the show. The creators of the show are excited about the game and we’ve been duty bound to execute on our design to the best of our ability. We’re fans of the show ourselves, and we know it has many fans around the world – so we really don’t want to let anyone down. So, yeah – there’s a little bit of pressure!
What was behind the decision to set the game before the events of season 1?
The game is intentionally set before the events of season one – this was to create a separate story arc, which could stand in tandem with the show without crossing over. We are excited that fans will be able to experience many of the iconic elements from the series – like the Garrison, the Betting Shop, Charlie’s Yard, and importantly – the main characters. The game will also serve as a brilliant introduction to gamers who haven’t yet delved into the Peaky Blinders universe and its key characters.
How much of a crossover with the TV series can fans expect to see in the game?
As mentioned, the events of the game foreshadow Tommy’s rise to power, but do not have any crossover with the story in the show – everything in this game has taken place before the events of Season 1. However we use actor and character likenesses – players will be able to control key members of the Shelby family: Tommy, Arthur, Ada, Polly, John and Finn. Moreover, players can experience some of the show’s famous locations and hear original music from the same band, Feverist, that created the music for Season 1. We’ve worked super closely with Mandabach and Endemol Shine to ensure a really authentic and deep Peaky Blinders experience for fans and newbies.
"The game is intentionally set before the events of season one – this was to create a separate story arc, which could stand in tandem with the show without crossing over."
The game’s name makes it pretty clear that Tommy’s ability to formulate complex plans will play a key role in the game, but can you talk about how that will materialize as gameplay mechanics?
Imagine writing a song. First you lay down the bassline or vocal melody, then you add bass and drums etc, and then you jam around, adjusting your performances until everything fits together perfectly. The characters in our game do the same thing, since gameplay is layered in this way. First you take control of Tommy to complete a certain task, but eventually you can’t progress any further without the help of another character. At which point, you rewind the timeline, take control of another character, and your previous gameplay as Tommy plays back in parallel. Eventually you are choreographing up to six of the Peaky Blinders characters, getting them to work together to solve a giant puzzle!
Can you go into detail on the aspect of managing the timeline to finetune each character’s actions, how it plays into the strategy aspects of the game, and how the game rewards players for smart execution of plans?
As a player completes a key action, such as unlocking a door or passing an item to another character, those actions are automatically entered into the timeline as events. This allows a player to skip backward and forward along the timeline to key moments. For example, you need to pickpocket a copper, but you can’t do that until he is distracted. Ada can distract coppers, so you carry out that task first, deciding exactly how long the distraction should last.
Once you’re happy that you’ve given yourself enough time, you take control of Finn, and get into position for the pickpocket, executing it during the window of opportunity you’d previously given yourself as Ada. If you mess it up, you can rewind the timeline and try again.
Each level is scored for Bronze, Silver, and Gold times, so a player can shave off precious milliseconds by lining up characters in perfect sync.
The rewind feature is so handy, the dev team ended up wanting it in every game we play, and in real life too, to be honest.
What can players expect from the different characters in terms of the unique advantages and disadvantages they will provide over each other?
Each character has one or two skills that can be used to help you solve each puzzle. For example, with Tommy’s ability to threaten, the players can take control of side characters for a limited amount of time, and access restricted areas. Polly can bribe certain police officers, so you can pass through areas without getting caught, however, you have to be careful that the other cops are looking the other way while she is bribing; and that’s where Ada’s ability to distract the cops momentarily by chatting with them can play a huge part. Each character has their own unique abilities, and they complement each other in a strategic way.
"Each character has their own unique abilities, and they complement each other in a strategic way."
It’s clear at first glance that Peaky Blinders: Mastermind has a gorgeous art style- how did you settle on this visual aesthetic for the game?
We wanted to find the perfect midpoint between the Peaky Blinders aesthetic established in the show, and FuturLab’s house art style. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved here because for fans of our games, it definitely looks like a FuturLab game, and it also reflects Peaky Blinders’ awesome visual style. Hooray!
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of Peaky Blinders: Mastermind be?
The core campaign length is estimated to be roughly ten hours for the average player. Players can choose to play in normal or hard mode, depending on that choice and the time they need to solve puzzles, they will need more or less time to complete each level.
Beyond that, the game has replayability for speed runners, achievement hunters and perfectionists in the form of a bronze-silver-gold-perfect scoring system based on how effectively you navigate each level, and whether you successfully obtain all collectables along the way. If you ace the level and don’t get spotted once, you obtain the perfect gold pocket watch!