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‘Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days’ Review – A Puzzling Shooter



There’s a well-known rule that dictates a movie based off of a videogame will inevitably turn out to be a terrible film. For some reason, the whimsical nature of games simply doesn’t translate well to the rigidity of the big screen. You could argue that is often due to the writers and directors seeking to expand a game’s appeal to a larger audience and taking far too many liberties with the source material, but the fact remains there are very few decent movies based on games.

Similarly, it’s rare to find a good game based off a movie, although there are notable exceptions in the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars cinematic universes. Reservoir Dogs is a film that has already taken a leap to videogames back in 2006 with a game of the same name, with decidedly muted results, and now along comes Big Star Games with their own offering in Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days. Does Bloody Days hit the mark that 2006’s Reservoir Dogs missed?


To start off, the game is presented in a very familiar top-down style reminiscent of Hotline Miami. You control up to 3 characters (or “Dogs” in the parlance of the game) as they go about a series of high-stakes robberies around town. You’ll start the game with some fairly pathetic pea-shooters but quickly unlock larger armaments you can use to mow down waves of attacking police, gangsters, or sometimes both. Each heist ends with the Dogs grabbing big sacks of money and getting away in their iconic white Cadillac.

What differentiates Bloody Days from every other isometric shooter is a unique “rewind” mechanic that allows the player to control up to 3 Dogs at once. You begin each robbery with a lead Dog who is controlled until the player hits the spacebar, at which point they will rewind time and suddenly be controlling the second Dog as he watches the leader go about whatever motions the player made while controlling him. Then you can control the second Dog to help him support the leader, gunning down any baddies you may have missed while being the lead Dog, or if you were particularly skilled (or just plain lucky) as the leader and not need the help you can go about grabbing the numerous cash stashes that litter every level.

The game revolves entirely around this rewind mechanic and the player’s ability to master it. Use it well and each level can become a beautifully choreographed gunfight leaving each Dog unscathed. But if you lose track of where all your Dogs are moving and shooting you can find yourself bumping into each other or worse yet wandering into allied bullet streams.

This essential mechanic also seems at odds with the game’s presentation. The expectation of the player is this game to be an action game like any other isometric shooter, but it’s not. It’s a puzzle game wrapped in shooter’s clothing, and because of this it can take nearly an entire playthrough before the player abandons their presumptions and embraces the rewind mechanic fully – if they ever do at all.  

There are multiple sections of the game where it simply makes more sense to equip a longer ranged weapon and take advantage of the limited sight of the AI, which prevents them from shooting until they’re within the confines of the screen. This allows the player to bypass the rewind mechanic altogether, however taking this route will still force the player to switch to the secondary Dog and move them to where the game expects them to be in order to progress.

Ultimately it’s up to the player to determine how they wish to play the game, but a core mechanic that can be bypassed with little consequence other than a lower score seems to be a detriment.

Another problem with Bloody Days is the plot, or more accurately the complete lack of one. The game expects players to be familiar with the movie source material, and if not then all they’re given is a brief two line explanation of each Dog as they’re introduced and nothing else. Joe Cabot, the mob boss central to the plot of the movie, is given no introduction at all, and is simply an elderly figure barking orders with little more explanation than “go here, steal that.” For a game that is ostensibly a prequel to the movie, it makes very little effort to paint a larger picture of the Dog’s exploits before the climactic diamond heist.

Besides the multi-coloured cast, the game’s only other reference to Reservoir Dogs are several in-game conversations that riff off quotes from the movie, loading screens that do the same, and a 70’s inspired music theme that is thematically appropriate even though the movie itself had very little music in it.

Without much in the way of story to drive the player’s action, your mileage with Bloody Days will depend entirely on whether or not you enjoy the rewind mechanic and the puzzle-like gameplay it produces. The rest of the game is competent if unremarkable, with 3D environments well rendered if plain, sounds that are satisfying if unexceptional, and a scoring system that is appropriate if unimaginative.

Bloody Days feels like a game that rests entirely on a single play mechanic, with sadly little else to prop it up if that mechanic doesn’t click with its audience. On top of that, the complete lack of plot or any driving force for the player makes it difficult to keep playing if that mechanic falls flat. If you’re already a big fan of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs then maybe you’ll find some value in Bloody Days.  Everyone else may be better off letting this dog lie.

Hailing from the wilds of the Canadian tundra, Sean's a freelance writer who's a big fan of any game with robots, or ninjas, or robot ninjas. He also loves donuts. Follow him on Twitter @seanmurray683