Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom puts you in your own episode of the hit TV show

Peaky Blinders The King's Ransom Key art featuring the Shelbys
(Image credit: Maze Theory)

The jump from timey-wimey puzzle-solving in the multiverse of Doctor Who, to creating their own story for gritty gang drama Peaky Blinders seems like an unusual one for virtual reality aficionados Maze Theory. But playing a preview of Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom at EGX 2022 proved that they've gone all-in on the experience. I wasn't really sure of what to expect when hopping into a VR-driven virtual rendition of post-World War I Birmingham's seedy, industrial streets to join a gang of flat cap-toting ne'er-do-wells – but I was immediately immersed in not only the environments and interactivity, but the beginnings of the story before me too.

Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom is a standalone story separate from the television series (and its real-life source material) that puts you in the thick of the action as a voiceless criminal looking to join the ranks of the ruthless Peaky Blinders gang. As such, you're practically the star of your own Peaky Blinders mini-series that takes place in 1928, during the time-jump between seasons four and five of the show. This game is very much the real deal too – you'll meet a couple of infamous faces along the way, and the game has been developed closely with the creator of Peaky Blinders, Steven Knight, and some of the show's writers and crew. It's this authenticity that really stood out during my hands-on preview.

Playing a Blinder

Peaky Blinders The King's Ransom Small Heath street environment

(Image credit: Maze Theory)

Each location I visited during my time with Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom felt exactly like I was wandering the show's sets, partly because I really was. One of the demo's key environments was the iconic Garrison pub, which Maze Theory's Chief Creative Officer, Russ Harding, tells me was recreated using the real set design plans for the show. Heading to The Garrison for the first time along a smoggy Small Heath street also triggered the game's opening titles which were, of course, exactly like the show's, featuring the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song 'Red Right Hand'. It was quite difficult to resist the urge to swagger my way up to the pub like I owned the place, but the dim lighting and faded red seats of The Garrison's interior made the pub feel ominous – which was rather appropriate given that Tommy Shelby quickly appeared after my arrival.

Tommy and Arthur Shelby are pretty crucial characters in Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom, and Maze Theory's access to a good amount of the show's cast and crew, including Cillian Murphy and Paul Anderson – the actors who play Tommy and Arthur respectively – adds so much authenticity and immersion to the game through good performances. "Cillian Murphy has played that character for 10 years and he knows Tommy inside out. It was great because he just added layers and layers of detail on top of the way Tommy would behave and the way he would perform within a scene", Harding says.

Peaky Blinders The King's Ransom Tommy Shelby pub drink

(Image credit: Maze Theory)

"The King's Ransom puts characters and story at the forefront – with, of course, all the baccy, bullets, and Brummie accents you could ever want."

It's this first meeting with Tommy that also sets up the story: robbers have stolen a trove of valuables from Winston Churchill's home, and they need retrieving. However, as a Peaky Blinder wannabe, you'll need to get on Tommy Shelby's good side. After the slightly tense meeting, I'm given the perfect opportunity to explore The Garrison, where I find all sorts of collectibles, scraps, and other bits of intel to learn more about the world and those within it. Harding tells me that this environmental storytelling is used throughout the game to layer in the narrative, and lots of this information gets logged in a handy journal that you can refer to at any time to read up on who and what you've found.

Despite this exciting introduction to the world of Peaky Blinders, I was strangely fascinated by the game's superficial cigarette smoking mechanic. When first meeting Tommy, he lights up a cigarette for you and from then on, you can somewhat realistically smoke the cigarette and freely remove it to exhale the smoke. For such a simple feature, I never anticipated that it would do so much to keep me in the moment and it's a really nice touch. Harding tells me that it was one of the first things the designers at Maze Theory wanted to include, and I'm not surprised given how important those little object interactions are for VR titles, but also because of the frankly lethal amount of smoking that goes on in Peaky Blinders.

All told, Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom feels like an immersive foray into the world of the acclaimed television series, hinged on delivering a consistently interesting and exciting crime story worthy of the Peaky Blinders name. While it's hard to judge based on a relatively short preview, it certainly appears to be a fascinating VR experience worthy of attention that puts characters and story at the forefront, along with traditional VR action – with, of course, all the baccy, bullets, and Brummie accents you could ever want.

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Will Sawyer
Guides Writer

Will Sawyer is a guides writer at GamesRadar+ who works with the rest of the guides team to give readers great information and advice on the best items, how to complete a particular challenge, or where to go in some of the biggest video games. Will joined the GameRadar+ team in August 2021 and has written about service titles, including Fortnite, Destiny 2, and Warzone, as well as some of the biggest releases like Halo Infinite, Elden Ring, and God of War Ragnarok.