'Reservoir Dogs' Reborn As A Game, We Go Hands-On

Reservoir Dogs was Quentin Tarantino’s first foray into the world of film, and its legacy continues to this day as a cult classic. This year marks the film’s 25th anniversary, and as part of the celebration, the Barcelona-based studio Big Star Games is working on a game based on the movie’s colorful characters called Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days. At GDC last week, I had a chance to check out the game and see how it expands the film’s original world.

Before The Heist

Whereas the film focuses on the bloody aftermath of a diamond heist, Big Star Games focused on other robberies prior to the heist. What you’ll get in the game is 18 levels, all of which involve you stealing money from a location and shooting police officers as you make your escape. With each mission, you’ll control two or three of the characters. The list include Messrs. Blonde, Blue, Brown, Orange, Pink, and White.

Depending on the characters you choose for the level, each one will have a pistol or melee weapon to start. However, you can pick up weapons from dead enemies and use them. After all, each firearm has a finite amount of ammunition, so you’ll have to switch guns if you don’t want to run up to an enemy and punch them in the face. The money that you steal from each level can be used to improve each character’s overall health, heal wounded allies, or purchase new weapons to use such as an assault rifle or shotgun.

Flashback Gunplay

At first glance, the game’s premise indicates that it’s a traditional top-view shooter game. However, the studio added “Time Back,” a feature that will force you to strategize each of your character’s moves (the studio said it’s inspired by the film’s use of flashbacks). It starts with your lead character; you can him move around the area and direct him to kill any enemies in the way. With a press of a button, you “rewind” the gameplay for a few seconds (my longest rewind was about 15 to 20 seconds), at which point the game will switch your control over to the second character. While your lead man is going through the same motions and actions that you directed him to do in the past few seconds, you can control the second person in the group to assist in attacking or take an entirely different route to grab more money.

An instance of this was when I had two characters, Mr. White and Mr. Pink, move from a hallway to a large room and then into another hallway. White rushed into the room and shot two enemies in the immediate area. Then, I rewound his movements and then controlled Mr. Pink. While White took down the initial foes, Pink moved into the second hallway and also took out a third enemy, who could potentially could have shoot White had Pink not intervened.

Throughout the level, you’ll have to use this rewind feature to breach multiple rooms or take on groups of enemies. If executed properly, you can have an unstoppable duo (or sometimes trio) take on the cops and escape with a substantial amount of money. However, it did take some time for me to familiarize myself with Time Back. I had to monitor how far my characters moved so that they didn’t stray too far from the group before the game reversed his actions. I also had to make sure that each character wasn’t in a comprising position when I activated Time Back. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy using it in the later stages; for the latter half of the demo, I constantly used it as my characters pushed forward across the game map. At one point, I flawlessly executed a breach-and-clear move with three characters as they stormed a room and killed every enemy in sight without suffering a single scratch.

Showing Promise

Other than Time Back, the rest of the game felt like a standard top-down-view shooter, which some might find dull. However, Big Star Games managed to make it an exhilarating and intense experience with each level. The idea of rewinding gameplay and switching characters forces you to think on your toes about your next move, which provides for an element of strategy mixed in with the chaos of a gunfight.

My main concern, however, is the game’s ability to keep players hooked for more than a few hours. Sure, there are 18 levels to try out, but the question turns towards extending the gameplay. Time Back alone can set the stage for a plethora of approaches on the same situation. Perhaps the inclusion of an induction mode or player-created content might keep it going after the initial credits roll on the story mode.

Despite the strange origins of the Time Back mechanic, I found that it mixed well with the many intense action sequences. What I didn’t see at the demo was the plot. The gameplay was attractive enough, but if the overarching story provides some substance, then it can attract even more die-hard fans of the movie along with the average gamer.

NameReservoir Dogs: Bloody Days
TypeShooter, Strategy, Action/Adventure
DeveloperBig Star Games
PublisherLionsgate
PlatformsPC Xbox One
Where To BuyN/A
Release DateSpring 2017
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