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Peaky Blinders: Mastermind review – clunky and not so clever

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August 20, 2020 at 11:28AM

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PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC; FuturLab/Curve Digital
The player in this TV series tie-in game is more like a frustrated foot soldier than a gangland kingpin

Peaky Blinders, the TV series, has some truly iconic moments. Ada casually strolling in the path of a tense standoff at the end of the first season. Alfie Solomons’ speech about the difference between bread and rum. That bit where Tommy and Arthur hold down two levers so Finn can go through a gate and hold down another lever? Not so much. For every really good bit in Peaky Blinders Mastermind, the British-made tie-in video game, there are 10 levers.

If you’ve ever played the venerable Eidos Commandos series – or, more recently, the excellent Shadow Tactics or Desperados III – you’ll recognise the setup here. You direct the Shelbys around little staged puzzles, combining their different skills and manipulating the timeline to pull off elaborate plans. Ada can wander around Small Heath with impunity in front of copper’s noses, where any of the boys would be spotted. She can chat them up, too, reducing their awareness and allowing other Shelbys to saunter past. Tommy can convince specific marks to do his bidding, like holding a door open, or passing a set of keys through a window. Finn can climb through small spaces, John can use lanterns to burn obstacles, Arthur can batter folk, and so on.

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