Most people just want an ordinary life that’s free from worry and drama. They’ll hold down a respectable job, fall in love and attempt to live happily ever after. However, this existence is fragile, and it takes very little to pop this bubble. Whiskey Mafia: Frank’s Story explores this concept while mixing in violence, alcohol, and a bag full of criminal activities.
Developed and published by ChiliDog Interactive LLC and FastGame, this is a retro linear adventure title. With a heavy dose of deja vu, you’ll experience the hero’s mundane existence before all hell breaks loose. It combines a strange array of mini-games with a rigid linear storyline. Sadly, however, this rigid and repetitive approach stagnated early and decimates its potential.
Whiskey Mafia: Frank’s Story should have been epic.
When I first heard about Whiskey Mafia: Frank’s Story I was excited. It seemed my sort of title and was something I could play casually. Sadly, though, I was wrong! Its potential is there for all to see, but unfortunately, so are the shortcomings. It comprises many wonderful mechanics, interesting characters, and intriguing storylines, but it fails to build on any of them. I admit that I was disappointed! I was given a game that should have been amazing, but it was a damp squib.
The gameplay revolves around Frank and his abysmal life. It is set in wartime America in the 1920s. Many of Frank’s friends have gone to the front line, but he stayed behind to deliver the mail. He’s certainly one of the “stay at home heroes”. Lying in a trench while being shot at is dangerous, but at least you have food and a wage coming in. Unfortunately, though, this can’t be said for the army of delivery personnel.
Months pass and no money exchanges hands! Frank is broke, he hates his job, and he can’t take his sweetheart on a date, so what’s a man going to do? He’ll team up with a dodgy pal who is morally corrupt, that’s what. This turning point changes a law-abiding citizen into a criminal monster overnight, and it is brilliant (in theory).
Mundane mini-games and missed opportunities.
As you can see, there is plenty of potential, yet every element failed to evolve. Many of the storylines wither and die without a full explanation or exploration of every avenue. This was infuriating as you experience no closure and much of the plot feels heartless and devoid of emotion. Moreover, Frank’s gangster lifestyle dominates proceedings and his mundane family existence disappears. Therefore, the story is imbalanced and is too “Hollywood” but without the razzmatazz.
Disappointingly, the problems don’t end there, though! The mundane and repetitive mini-games lack challenge, finesse, or any level of enjoyment. You open by collecting and delivering the mail to pre-designated addresses. This is dull as dishwater as you meander through the busy but lifeless streets. As you turn to the dark side, you’ll fulfil barman duties, beat the snot out of punks, and earn money from illegal brawls.
These activities should have been enthralling and enjoyable, but they are not! The bar work comprises the ordering of stock and delivering drinks by clicking on the patron’s heads. Fighting is equally shallow, as it requires nothing more than two buttons to complete any battle. Unfortunately, the spicy moments within the story didn’t heat things up, either, and you are left desperately wanting.
Whiskey Mafia: Frank’s Story captures the era nicely.
Most of Whiskey Mafia: Frank’s Story failed to impress me, yet I liked its presentation. Graphically I was reminded of the Sega Mega Drive or SNES thanks to its side-scrolling pixelated world. It lacked finer details, but it oozed charm and used vivid and garish tones. The fighting sections reminded me of Streets of Rage, and this thankfully tugged at my heartstrings. I also loved its era-specific imagery and the faithful representation of motor vehicles and clothing. However, the lazy use of repetitive backdrops quickly became tiresome, and this was disappointing.
The use of jazz music was an excellent choice. Walking around the classic wartime suburbs listening to the buzzing tones was great. The developers cleverly blended upbeat and sombre heavier songs to enhance the emotion and I appreciated the effort. There were isolated moments when the story was captivating and this was enhanced by the wonderful soundtrack. However, annoyingly these times were painfully fleeting.
Anyone can control a mobster.
If becoming a gangster is this easy, then anyone can become one. Thanks to the simple controls and minimal input options, there is little to think about. Yet, even with a straightforward approach, there were still issues. When walking, you crash into the scenery repeatedly, and it wasn’t responsive. It was minor, but it was infuriating nonetheless.
The small mercy of this title is how short it is. Fortunately, you can rattle through every achievement in no time and barring one decision, the story has no impact upon the gameplay. If the mini-games were interesting, this would have been disappointing. However, I was glad it ended.
Whiskey Mafia: Frank’s Story is underwhelming.
If you look hard enough, you’ll find a few positives. However, sadly, it’s not really worth the effort. Much of Whiskey Mafia: Frank’s Story is underwhelming and disappointing and I don’t recommend you buy it. Can you leave behind your mundane existence? Forget your morals, step over everyone, and become a wealthy man, no matter the cost.