Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days is a top-down shooter using the license of the titular budget cult film, Reservoir Dogs. The movie itself revolved its story around a group of men who were dealing with the consequences of a jewelry heist gone wrong while simultaneously trying to figure out which among them may be an undercover police officer. It was an absolutely brilliant film where the dialogue mattered far more than action. Bloody Days flips this concept on its head, however, parading the cast of the 1992 movie through 18 botched heists replete with wanton violence. So is this a game worth your cash, or does this dog need to be put down? Let’s find out.
Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days plays like Hotline: Miami mixed with the rewinding mechanic from popular games like The Prince of Persia. This and Hotline Miami are similar in that they’re both top stick-style shooters, except you instead playing a series of small minigames of the same type of twin stick shooter mechanics, then rewind to control another of the dogs to make them act in tandem to shoot multiple targets simultaneously. You rinse and repeat this until you’ve beaten the stage. Actually, you repeat these same actions, using the rewind mechanic very liberally, until you’ve beaten the game.
To elaborate on the rewind mechanic, when you rewind, you can switch to another character while the one you were controlling prior take the same actions you did when under your control. This should result in, for example, in you being able to use two characters to take out enemies who approach from both sides of a shipping crate. Note that new actions you take with another character will cause the AI to behave differently (they react in real time with you), which will invalidate the actions you took with one of your characters previously controlled, typically resulting in them shooting at walls, all because the AI pathing responded differently that time.
For as many times as players will execute a kind of synchronized slaughter, players will also have situations where the enemy pathing invalidates your queued prior actions entirely. The system does seem to be working as intended (as, I suppose, constricting enemy movement to a single unwavering path would make it too easy to abuse), but it does create a significant learning curve, as players will be fighting the rewind mechanic just as, if not more so, than they will the enemies themselves. Also, awkwardly, sometimes enemy pathing may differ wildly when you switch from one character to another, to the point where enemies move offscreen a bit and kill a character you’re not using at the moment (when that may not have happened when you controlled your first or second character). I’m certain that once you learn the ins and outs of the system that it becomes relatively easy to predict due to lackluster AI, but for someone just getting into the game it is a frustrating exercise of multiple enemies changing directions arbitrarily because you moved a single character a few feet from where they were standing in your first set of actions – and a character dying means the mission is failed so you have to restart.
If you’re looking for a narrative, there really isn’t much of one. Each mission starts off with some random dialogue and quotes from the 1992 film, but it’s largely a non-sequitur in relation to anything dealing with the mission on which you embark. Each mission basically begins with you reaching a specific point to start a heist, getting caught by someone, and then getting involved in a shootout with the police on the way to get the goods and hightail it out of the stage. This is a game almost entirely based around playing and replaying missions to rack up as high of a score as possible (the developer even has some contests going for this), so outside of a large number of Reservoir Dogs quotes, there’s not really a lot tying this name to the titular indie film as even the characters don’t match up well.
A lot of the in-game character models appear to be designed from the Borderlands school of cel shading, but a lot of them, such as Mr. Pink, look nothing like what the imagery is supposed to evoke. Mr. Brown has a very similar issue in that he looks nothing like Tarantino, either: It’s fairly apparent that the developer did not secure rights to use the likenesses of original cast of Dogs, so they did whatever they could. As for sound, effects sound exactly like what they’re supposed to convey without sounding grating and the music, while forgettable, fits the theme well.
Mouse and keyboard controls are definitely the way you are meant to play this game as, while controllers do work with the title, they’re significantly more difficult to utilize than a mouse. Performance-wise, there are a few times, especially toward the end of the game, where the game begins chugging for almost no reason whatsoever – frame rates, especially when rewinding, plummeted even on a system with an Intel i7 CPU and a GTX 1070, something that doesn’t seem like it should really happen given the enemy AI and the level of the game’s visuals.
The stages are setup with you playing through warehouses, night clubs, even banks, but they’re largely different backdrops with the very similar layouts among each of the missions. There’s an illusion of variety, but it isn’t backup up with an appropriate feeling of diversity. This does mean that it’s relatively easy to memorize the best choke points to utilize, etc., as each location has a similar room and hallway structure, so those who want to go for the highest score might actually appreciate this element more. Those seeking more variety in level design, however, are going to be sorely disappointed with Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days.
Overall, Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days isn’t an awful game, it’s just a very average one with a license behind it. Those who can’t get enough of top down-style shooters like Hotline: Miami, and those who ignore story developments for score attacks, may very much appreciate Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days. For fans of the film or those who don’t like top down shooters, there’s not really a lot in Bloody Days to make you stick around if you don’t like shooters, unless you just disproportionately enjoy being hit with movie quotes.