As a companion and prequel to Peaky Blinders, Mastermind is a surprisingly satisfactory video game tie-in to the beloved television series. A puzzle/strategy game from developers FuturLab, the game is similar in feel to Alien: Isolation, as players take control of the familiar Shelby family in post-WWI Birmingham. In the game, you control these characters from an aerial point-of-view in a Sims-esque way as you navigate and complete missions around Small Heath.
Each of the characters within the Shelby family come with their own unique traits such as the iconic boss Tommy’s ability to intimidate information out of people or the matriarch Polly’s ability to pick locks. You must combine your approach with the members of the Shelby family using cooperation and cunning to complete timed tasks that the game places you in. These tasks range from life-threatening situations to the mundane as is commonly seen within the TV show. As an example (no major spoilers), in one level you are tasked to steal smuggled champagne for a party. Depending on the quickness and completeness of your approach with whichever members of the Shelby family you are controlling, you can target a Gold, Silver, or Bronze time. Your record times will be logged by the game and you can replay levels if you choose to do so. As you are playing, you can even ‘rewind’ time if you want to change your decisions in-game, allowing you to improve your score or unlock interactions you may have missed between characters without having to replay the entire level all over again. Your decisions in the game are recorded on a progressive tracker at the bottom of the screen which shows a timeline of key choices you make as you traverse the world.
Simple but unexpectedly decent, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is a welcome addition to the Peaky Blinders story and overall lore. While the learning curve is not too steep or super challenging, it is still a good enough game that immerses you into the escapades of the Shelby family in Industrial England for a few hours if you are needing that kick after the end of the latest season.
For the type of game that this is, the graphics are serviceable and the likeness of characters from the show are certainly drawn and colored well and accurately. Set pieces and models within the game are varied enough where you don’t feel like you are just playing through a recycled level environment. Some animation would have been nice during cut scenes, but the story text does well enough to provide proper context and drama.
Fans of the show will be familiar with the game’s rock-laden atmosphere filled with booming drums and heavy guitar riffs, serving as an upbeat soundtrack to the game which helps up the ante and pressure as you race to complete a task on time. Sadly, no voice acting from the actual cast is present, as the game instead relies on text-based cut scenes to progress the story.
Overall Verdict: Good
Peaky Blinders: Mastermind releases on August 20th, available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.