This is an excellent game that has a fun and interesting take on the Cop Drama genre and superpower/mutant games, and one that fits the Gumshoe system perfectly.
Mutant City Blues is set in the near future, where 1% of the population have developed mutant powers in a similar style to The X-Men. To borrow a line from the book, that means 1% of the criminals now have superpowers, and 1% of the police and other law enforcement officers that pursue them.
In the fictional world presented in the book, the law (and society) has adapted to this new status quo by accepting most of these new abilities, possession of some powers require licencing and other are outright outlawed, with a horrific “Minority Reportesque” pre-emptive incarceration and forced sedation in store for anybody that is unfortunate enough to manifest them, but most powers are simply accepted and are now accepted as part of society as a whole. Law Enforcement of the world recognised the need for a special unit dedicated to dealing with mutant related cases, and this is where the players are assumed to be placed.
I’ve seen this referred to as a “Superhero” game, but I believe those people have taken a drastically incorrect view of the setting. This, in my view, is a Cop Drama first and foremost. Law and Order the RPG, with mutants. While the setting does include “superpowers”, a gritty realism is (or rather, can be) a core element of the setting and it works very well when used.
The Gumshoe system lends itself very well to the setting. The new “Quade Diagram” pseudo-scientific system used to create the “Mutations” and related “Defects” is truly excellent. It make creating a character with mutations very interesting, sure you can create Superman or Spider-Man or Wolverine, but you have to take the bad with the good, and the defects (that are mandatory when taking certain powers) are quite severe. The standard Gumshoe system of Investigation and General points works very well, perhaps best in this setting than in any of the other printed Gumshoe book.
As a GM, I found this game was best run with two player characters, creating either a “Law or Order” or “Buddy Cop” feel, depending on the attitudes of the players at the time.
This is a fantastic game, and deserves a lot more people playing it that I suspect it gets.
TTR Steve Marsh – Host of The Tabletop Review