Blue Wednesday Review – Blue, Blue, Blue, Blue Wednesday

    Title: Blue Wednesday
    Developer: Buff Studio
    Release Date: August 28, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Buff Studio
    Genre: Rhythm Adventure

Buff Studio’s newest game takes you on a musical-themed adventure filled with jazz, finding love, and facing the fear of the future. Blue Wednesday centers around a pianist named Morris who hopes to one day make it big in Evans City. After getting fired from his recent job at a supermarket, Morris gets the chance to fulfill his dreams as a pianist, which leads to him joining a band in a nightclub called Birds Club. He becomes closer to the other members of the group, most notably a saxophone player named Angela, as he tries his best not to let his fears and anxiety ruin each performance; players experience a year of Morris’ life and the problems that creep up.

While Blue Wednesday’s main system revolves around playing the piano, there is a narrative. We follow Morris through Evan’s City, where he can interact with characters who are each dealing with their own issues. For example, Fernando is an aspiring rapper who hangs near Morris’ apartment. His desire for friendship is connected to his troubled relationship with his father. Also, there’s a baker named Ben who starts a baking-themed vlog and must understand how to improve his craft. While interacting with these characters, players make choices that affect how they feel towards Morris.

Each character appears to be well crafted with personalities that relate to their jobs and interests, many of which are music-related or something similar where they are working towards obtaining their dreams. I was interested in Fernando and his dad’s story the most, as well as another side story about a girl whose boyfriend leaves for an extended trip, and as the months go by, she becomes worried when he stops responding to her as their relationship becomes long distance.

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However, I noticed during certain conversations that there were a few spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Further, sometimes the character’s dialogue wouldn’t come up for the rest of the conversation, meaning players would just be looking at the characters staring at each other until the conversation was finished.

Back to the narrative, Morris is also a rather interesting character. Throughout the game, we follow him in his daily life and see his cynical outlook towards where his life is going, even after he gets the job working at Birds Club. While he does start to become a little more optimistic, there are still bits of his negative outlook, which provides some of the game’s more humorous moments. There are plenty of fun scenarios that take place between the more heartfelt plot points.

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Outside of Morris interacting with the various side characters around his neighborhood, the game’s main mechanic is the multitude of mini-games that make mundane tasks a slight challenge to deal with, most notably his performance on the piano. Similar to a rhythm game, players must use the D, F, J, and K keys to help Morris remain on beat to a song, whether it’s at home or with the band at Bird’s Club. Each song is difficult in its own way, whether it’s keeping with the rhythm on time, how fast it’s going, or the fear that both Morris and the Players may get with messing up in front of Angela and the other members of the band with each off note that they make in their performances.

I honestly thought that the piano performances were going to be easy to do, and I was surprised by how hard it can be at times. I never really did a perfect performance during these segments, and I made a few mistakes in each song that I performed. It takes practice, like learning a real instrument, to get a performance right, and Blue Wednesday makes it no secret to show just how hard it can be at times when it comes to musical performances with the real chance that the player and Morris will make a mistake.

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For players who are worried about messing up when performing music at Birds Club, they have the opportunity to do two practices at the start of each new in-game day to improve their skills. They’re also able to listen to laid-back music if they just want to take a minute to relax before moving on to the next section in the game. As Morris helps his neighbors out with various tasks, he’ll get new vinyl records that the players can listen to the next time he’s at his apartment.

As for the other mini-games, whether it’s scanning strange items in a supermarket scanner, trying to have a bath at the right temperature, or making the right kind of coffee to drink, I found these mini-games charming and a bit challenging. You may want to take a minute or two to strategize how to do something like fixing Fernando’s radio or sorting out shelves at a supermarket.

One point of the experience that I adored was its art style. In keeping with the game’s laid-back jazz aesthetic, Evans City itself also has this same vibe. I enjoyed the neon jazz colors during Morris’ performances or when he thinks about how passionate he is when it comes to jazz music in general. These also show up when Morris has a panic attack to showcase how fearful he’s becoming of the current situation and the anxiety that’s coming with it.

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Despite its relaxing appearance, Blue Wednesday can be surprisingly challenging at times. This challenge is not completely found in the gameplay segments but also in the core narrative. The plot touches on motivation, creativity, and confidence in a way that really makes you reflect on real-world events. There’s a nice blend of humor and somber tones found through the experience, which is tied together through addictive rhythm-based mini-games. Sadly, some context may be lost due to grammatical errors or bugs, but I’m excited to see Morris’ career blossom.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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