I don’t know about you, but I love danger and I’m attracted to things I probably shouldn’t be. This is why I’m fascinated by crime and the world of the gangsters of the 20s. I’ve recently covered Whiskey Mafia: Frank’s Story and wasn’t impressed, so when I was given Whiskey Mafia: Leo’s Family I was understandably a little dubious.
Developed by FastGame and published by ChiliDog Interactive, this is a narrative-driven crime tale. Set in the 20s, this coins itself as the prequel to Frank’s Story. Subsequently, it helps to fill in some blanks, but no prior knowledge of the franchise is needed to play this game.
Whiskey Mafia: Leo’s Family has a confusing timeline.
You control Christopher, an Italian descendent of a port worker who is fed up with life. His family is poor, his father barely survives, and he doesn’t want to live like that. His dad is a good and honest man and wants his son to have these traits. He puts him through automotive school and gets him a job in a garage. However, Christopher wants more, so he visits his shady uncle who keeps unsavoury company. From here, his life becomes more exciting and dangerous, and you join Leo’s family of mobsters. Plenty of crime ensues, and subsequently, there are many brushes with the law.
Theoretically, the plot is pretty good as clear inspiration is taken from much-loved gangster films. The characters are stereotypical, clichéd, and dated, but they add charm and grit to the story. Furthermore, the protagonist is likeable and his plight will resonate with many people. Sadly, though, if you’ve played the original, the timeline of events doesn’t add up. Whiskey Mafia: Leo’s Family is intended as a prequel, yet many of the events are in sync, and this was confusing. This misunderstanding doesn’t impact the gameplay, it simply doesn’t match the game’s description.
Mini-games, badly translated text, and a lack of action.
Whiskey Mafia: Leo’s Family has taken a different approach to the first game. Frank’s Story insisted you walked the streets while completing tasks. However, this uses a point and click method blended with visual novel elements. It was a bizarre combination that restricted your ability to explore and slowed the pace. It made me feel like a spectator as opposed to a player, and this was very strange.
This sense of observing the plot was occasionally broken by simple and mundane mini-games. You’ll fix car issues in the form of a pipe game or move boxes using your cursor. Neither are challenging nor interesting and add little to the plot. Their only purpose is to cement Christopher’s character at that point in the story. For example, is he still a mechanic and a good boy, or is he shifting merchandise as a gangster?
Sadly, the disappointment continues with the badly translated narration. Now, this wouldn’t normally bother me. However, every element of the game is based on the text. Fortunately, though, it wasn’t impossible to read between the lines, and much of the text was salvageable. The developers should have proofread the game before release as the issues undermine a truly interesting tale.
Whiskey Mafia: Leo’s Family is the epitome of the 20s.
Though much of the gameplay hasn’t worked, FastGame’s presentation was spot on. The authenticity of the city, vehicles, and clothing capture the era perfectly. This was then complemented by the excellent pixelated artistry. Furthermore, the mix of colours represented the oppressive lifestyle of the poor and the extravagance of the wealthy.
The audio did wonders to bring life to an otherwise slow title. The combination of jazz music and loud sound effects added plenty of energy. This was fantastic, as the lack of action and mundane mini-games undermined its potential.
It plays like a visual novel.
I love a good visual novel, so when a game borrows heavily from this genre, I don’t mind. However, most gamers won’t be expecting a Mafia game to take this approach. Whiskey Mafia: Leo’s Family is an adventure title with a hard-hitting theme, so it should be more hands-on. Most players will be underwhelmed by the direction this takes and this will leave many disappointed. There is one positive to take from it though, the control system is simple to understand. Subsequently, if you enjoy the gameplay, you’ll have little to worry about.
One element I enjoyed was the two distinct endings. Like many visual novels, you can influence the protagonist’s path. Therefore, you decide whether Christopher will be good or bad, and this adds a smidgeon of longevity. Sadly, though, the developers didn’t expand on this area and this was a missed opportunity. Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom, especially if you are a completionist. With an easy achievement list, you’ll finish this in less than an hour.
Whiskey Mafia: Leo’s Family falls into the same traps as its predecessor.
The Whiskey Mafia franchise has such potential that I will look at further additions. Yet, the two I have covered fail to live up to their potential. This is disappointing as FastGame gets some elements right, but far too many were wrong. I enjoyed it, but I can’t recommend it. If you want an easy achievement game, then you can buy it here! Experience the life of a mobster or abide by the law. The choice is yours.