In the interest of absolute transparency, I’m going to have to admit that I know absolutely nothing about Blue Estate, which is apparently a comic of some sort, but then the chances are that most people who happen across the title in the PlayStation Store are unlikely to be familiar with the source material, which puts us all on a level playing field of sorts.
Thankfully, no previous knowledge of the work that inspired this PS4 shooter is necessary to jump right into the gameplay, but based on some of the humour, writing and interesting visual styles on show, it’s probably fair to say that the game will bring plenty of new fans across to the comics.
It’s been a long time since light gun games were the in thing, but those of a certain vintage will likely have fond memories of pumping far too much money into the likes of Time Crisis and Virtua Cop in their local arcades, so on nostalgia value alone, this is a title I was pretty eager to get stuck into. The good news is that Blue Estate doesn’t need to rely on nostalgia to deliver an enjoyable experience because, believe it or not, it actually works pretty well all things considered.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, no dedicated light gun peripheral is needed to enjoy Blue Estate, with the Dual Shock 4 instead functioning as a reasonable enough stand-in. Given the fact that it’s ergonomically nothing like an actual firearm, a little manoeuvring is required to find an orientation that you’re comfortable with (I opted for a vertical grip which was a touch awkward at first, but it started to come good once I’d figured out the nuances of the control system), but aside from having to regularly re-centre the aiming reticle it’s a surprisingly solid system.
On top of the obvious pointing and shooting, players will need to utilize the DS4’s touch pad to interact with occasional set-pieces, swiping one way or the other in order to kick doors shut, grapple with enemies or pick up ammo or new weapons. Again, it’s clunky at first but with a little perseverance it’s a lot better than you might expect.
In terms of gameplay, Blue Estate is very much what you’d expect from an on-the-rails shooter, in that it’s great fun to unwind with. Blasting your way through improbably waves of enemies as Tony Luciano is a lot more fun that it probably should be given the limitations of the genre, but it’s been so long since we’ve had a decent light gun shooter that the minor quirks and foibles are easily forgiven.
As you progress through each level, you’ll be rewarded for stringing together headshots and scenery assisted kills, while picking off enemies is made all the more straightforward thanks to a handy icon that lets you know which of your foes will be the first to unload a round in your general direction. Although things start off at a reasonable enough pace, they soon escalate into a deluge of enemy grunts, meaning that players will need to be aware of their surroundings at all times if they’re going to keep their multipliers going.
Blue Estate isn’t the greatest looking of games, but it has a solid enough visual style that makes up for any rough edges, while the cut-scene artwork is genuinely impressive. Not quite as successful is the game’s voice acting, which can be a little wooden at times, but does contain the occasional flash of brilliance – usually an off the cuff remark that you probably shouldn’t be airing around younger members of your household.
There’s not a massive amount of content on offer here, with seven chapters available to play through totalling barely more than a couple of hours of gameplay if you choose to tackle it in a single sitting, but given the nature of the game that’s to be expected, and this is a title that’s as much about racking up high scores as it is about playing through to completion.
With practically nothing else on the market to go up against these days, Blue Estate has a genre pretty much to itself, and it does a fine job of serving up a title that’ll entertain and pass a few hours here and there. As a pick up and play title it’s definitely worth a look, but for players hoping for something substantial to sink their teeth into, it’s probably going to fall short.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game and can definitely see myself returning to the fray at regular intervals.