Parents around the world rejoiced when Bluey: The Videogame was announced by Outright Games back in September, and last week, we were invited to BBC Studios in London to go hands-on with the final build of the game on Switch ahead of its launch later this month.
The insanely popular show has gone from strength to strength since its original series aired in 2018. For those here without children, the animated show centres on an anthropomorphic six-year-old Blue Heeler called, you guessed it, Bluey and her family, including younger sister Bingo, mother Chilli, and fluffy father, Bandit.
It is the show’s wholesome storytelling has often been cited as the main reason for its explosive success and, importantly, adult viewers are clearly enjoying the show as much as their kids. With over 150 episodes to date, there is a huge amount of content to draw on for the inevitable video game.
Spanish studio Artax Games has been given the responsibility to faithfully capture that Bluey magic and translate it into video-game form with the help and guidance of publisher Outright Games (who has a rich history of family-focused games), whilst original creators Ludo and the BBC oversee and protect their respective interests.
As a project with a multitude of chefs involved, you’d be forgiven for fearing the worst for the proverbial broth. However, upon booting up the game and playing through the tutorial level, those fears quickly evaporate and a very clear vision of what Bluey: The Videogame should be is presented to you. A consommé, if you will.
The presentation has clearly been a firm priority for the project, and the game instantly feels warm, cosy, and familiar; likewise, the character animation style does a great job of mimicking the look and feel of the TV show. Another thing that is immediately clear is a conscious effort has been made to reduce on-screen text to an absolute minimum, with almost all interactions done using picture-based prompts, no doubt with the objective of lowering the barrier to entry to the youngest of players.
Naturally, the Switch version does have a visual compromise compared to the other console versions – Oh, biscuits! – with the game running at 30fps (1080p docked, 720p handheld) and other platforms such as PS5 and Xbox Series X running at a buttery smooth 4K/60fps. Some textures, particularly in the mouth animations, are clearly lower in quality, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to ruin your experience. Pleasingly, if you were to glance over at the screen, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was simply an episode of the show.
The game further leans into its source material by having unlockable minigames (Keepy Uppy, anyone?) and an episode-based campaign structure, with a unique-to-the-game story told over the four main episodes. Along with copying the general format of the show, the game also attempts to go deeper and tap into its essence – let us explain.
The majority of Bluey stories involve her whole family either playing a game together, visiting a location, or simply doing a mundane task such as grocery shopping. This essence of ‘togetherness’ must have also been high (if not top) on the priority list for the developers, as the entire game is based around a four-player couch co-op setup. Players can change characters and drop in or drop out at any time with player-AI filling in the handful of sections of the game that require two characters to complete a task.
It’s obvious that the aspiration here is to get the whole family playing together, and by making the controls extremely simple, it not only lowers the barrier to entry for younger players but also for those in your family who don’t play games often. Bravo.
If it isn’t already painfully obvious, the challenge level on offer here is minimal, but we wouldn’t expect it any other way. Still, having spent around 30 minutes with it, we’re eager to get the full game in our hands and play through to completion.
So, at this point, from what we’ve played so far, Bluey: The Videogame looks great and plays great, however, the amount of content on offer is a concern; although the episodes are somewhat replayable by switching characters, changing outfits (hats), and finding secrets, it remains to be seen just how many hours you’ll get from the final package, even with it’s free-to-roam “sandbox” mode. That said, we would expect this to be a quality-over-quantity type of affair.
We get the impression the publishers are aware, and therefore, the game is suitably priced at the suggested retail price of £34.99. The episodic structure of the game is screaming out for additional episode DLC but when we quizzed the publisher on this, they simply replied with our favourite line: “We have nothing to announce at this time.”
We will have to reserve final judgement for when we do a full review of the game later this month ahead of release on November 17th.
We’d like to thank Outright Games for inviting us to play the game; all travel costs were covered by Nintendo Life. Images provided by Outright Games, not specific to Switch version.
This story originally appeared on Nintendo Life