“The past is not my concern. The future is no longer my concern either… One minute. The soldier’s minute. In a battle that’s all you get. One minute of everything at once. Anything before is nothing. Everything after, nothing. Nothing in comparison to that one minute.”Tommy Shelby
The war veteran and back-street gang leader Tommy Shelby spoke these words back during the first season of the hit crime drama Peaky Blinders, ultimately inspiring the video game Peaky Blinders: Mastermind which was released back in August 2020. It’s hard to believe that we might see the sixth and final season of Peaky Blinders sooner than previously anticipated, as showrunners have confirmed that the show might end by either late 2021 or early 2022, depending on how production goes.
It’s hardly surprising, considering the production limitations imposed by the current global health crisis. With that being said, show creator and writer Steven Knight has also promised fans and critics that the show’s narrative will “continue in another form.” Set during events before the show’s first season and available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, Peaky Blinders: Mastermind already delivers on this promise.
Shelby’s speech about the soldier’s minute, as much as it might have been missed by some fans, encapsulates what makes the show great. Rather than focusing on the gunfights and chases, game creators opted to instead give players an in-depth look into Shelby’s tactical criminal brain. “We’re inspired by choreography and dance, and we’ve had this idea to ‘choreograph’ characters for a long time,” explains James Marsden, owner of indie game studio FuturLab which developed Mastermind. “The fact that Peaky Blinders has this great ensemble cast and it’s Tommy managing the tasks of his family without them necessarily knowing why or without the audience knowing why — all paying off at the end of each season — it just seemed to fit perfectly with the mechanic we had.” In short, the game’s concept is its main strength.
Unfortunately, the opposite can be said of its combat system. In terms of actual combat, the game plays like an old-school top-down strategy game in which one-button commands are all you need to start and finish fights. This can be pretty disappointing for players who are also fans of the show’s dynamic action scenes. Considering the source material and the brevity of the concept, the combat system leaves a lot to be desired.
In terms of next-generation games, the graphics are above average. The isometric view and overall art style work very well with the atmosphere that the game is trying to replicate from the source material. Apart from the repeated use of certain 3D game assets which makes the terrain feel repetitive during latter levels, the graphics are solid and the movements are fluid. The use of comic book-style panels with gorgeous art as story devices ultimately succeeds at achieving the look and feel that many fans of the show expect.
This is another aspect where Mastermind shines. True to its source material, the game uses an anachronistic indie rock soundtrack, which will send feelings of nostalgia to long-time fans of the show. In this game, the music is not just for flavor, but for replicating a specific atmosphere that the show has previously established. In this way, the game’s sound design works perfectly with its overall look. And that alone makes it a truly gorgeous game to interact with.
The aforementioned concept is executed pretty well – albeit with tons of room for improvement. The most satisfying moments of the game are when you can control and sync up the actions of several members of the gang. Setting up these chain reactions across the city as the game’s clock ticks by perfectly expresses the concept behind Mastermind. However, these moments are only truly present during the last levels. Furthermore, the ability to rewind the game and avoid virtually every wrong decision simply makes certain levels too easy. Although it does pose the challenge of lining up everything perfectly just like Shelby would.
What’s truly frustrating is that in terms of gameplay, all the elements to make Mastermind stronger are already present. Be that as it may, Mastermind is still a fun, isometric, action-filled puzzle adventure game that convincingly puts players in the shoes of Shelby’s gang as they make the most of whatever’s left in the ever-ticking game clock. All 10 levels will take the average gamer about 4 hours to finish. And while Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is the best and first full video game adaptation of the show, it’s not the only one that’s making the rounds online.
The future certainly seems bright for the Peaky Blinders gaming universe. Around the same time as Mastermind was released in 2020, iGaming company Pragmatic Play released a Peaky Blinders online slot game for the web gaming market. Featuring not just characters from the show but plot items like the razor blade and bullet casings, and scored with a similar lively soundtrack, Peaky Blinders’ online slot adaptation is further proof that there are countless ways for the show to live on after the final season. In fact, the Peaky Blinders online slot has featured in international gaming websites such as Giochi di Slots, Gaming Report, and Tragaperras Web, all of which are run by affiliate marketing company Kensho Media. Alongside the success of Mastermind, this underscores the continuing impact that the Peaky Blinders narrative will have on the future of the online gaming world.
If you’re a fan of gripping and challenging puzzle games like The Sojourn, look no further than Peaky Blinders: Mastermind. If you only have a few minutes on your clock, you might want to check out the online slot version instead. Either way, these Peaky Blinders games are just the start of a potential wave of show-related content. Even though the show is ending, Tommy Shelby and his gang are not going anywhere.