Release Date: October 19, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (eShop), PC (Steam), Playstation 4 (Playstation Store), Xbox One (Microsoft Store)
Price: $14.99 USD
JYDGE is the latest title out of developer and publisher, 10tons. It is described as a lawful but unlawful top down shooter. You take controller of a cybernetic unit named JYDGE which you can customize granting you a range of abilities and perks. The premise of the game is to eradicate crime in the never sleeping mega city of Edynburg. Throughout the games many levels, you will be challenged on how to take on the Cobra crime syndicate. Will you be stealthy and lurk in the shadows? Or will you take the evil doers head on? Maybe you’ll blow them to bits with your rockets? Or bring a squad of reckless companions to your aid? The choice is yours.
The story in JYDGE is pretty much none existent, but it doesn’t take away from the atmosphere of the game at all. You’re thrown into a world and role similar to what you would see in RoboCop, or even Judge Dredd, whichever one tickles your fancy. The game progresses in a pretty linear manner with the occasional voice over explaining the progress of your mission against Cobra and the acceptance of the JYDGE units within the city.
With JYDGE, what you see is what you get, and that’s not a bad thing. You will primarily be taking on the games many stages, and figuring out the best way to complete your objectives and earn medals. Gameplay is quite fun in JYDGE. You use the left analog stick to move JYDGE around, and the right stick is used to aim your line of sight, which is marked by a red laser. You use the right trigger to fire, the left trigger to use specials and clicking the right stick executes a melee strike. You reload by pressing B and A is used to interact with objects in the stages.
The game is structured into four acts that have several stages within their respective section. Each stage has three distinct objectives to complete, and doing each will earn you a medal. The more medals you get, more upgrades will be available for you to purchase. Also, the level progression is tied to the number of medals you have. You will require a certain about of medals to go to the next stage, kind of like stars in Mario 64.
This mechanic for level progression is fine, but the game imposes a pretty demanding requirement for unlocking stages. The number of medals required seems rather high, so the bulk of your time will be spent replaying stages to complete all the different objectives. Thankfully, the objectives are pretty fun and challenging to do, and by no means do they feel too difficult to complete. It may just be a tough pill to swallow for those who simply want to coast through level after level to finish the game. It will take some time to complete as each mission is quite different from one another. It will require all sorts of different strategies and load outs to complete each. In one mission, you’ll need to rescue hostages. In another, you’ll need to take out the secret weapon to succeed. Complete the level without being seen or taking damage, you’ll earn more medals depending on the stage.
Naturally, the gameplay is very fun because of the variety of objectives you are required to complete. Running in and taking the enemies head on can be quite a rush, especially on big stages that has several members of a gang hanging out at a club. The fire fights get pretty big and chaotic and it feels good to be able to take everyone out. Alternatively, missions that require you to be sneaky and rescue hostages are just as enjoyable. There’s something super satisfying about waiting for an enemy to turn a corner and take him out before he realizes what hit him.
Completing the levels with the basic requirements can be pretty easy though. Where the challenge in JYDGE lies however is earning enough medals to keep advancing levels. Several times you’ll need to go through a stage without taking damage or avoid being spotted. It can be tough to achieve either one, especially when dealing with big stages that have several spots being patrolled. Enemies are quite aware of what’s going on around them, so you’ll need to be extra careful. There are objectives that dare you to beat stages in 30 seconds or less. I’ll tell you, rushing in, taking out a few enemies without being seen, rescue three hostages and then safely exit the stage is no easy feat. But when done successfully, I felt thoroughly satisfied with being able to do so.
Overcoming the challenges of the many objectives is done most easily by customizing your JYDGE’s cyberware and gavel. Cyberware is essentially perks that you can buy and equip. You’ll start out with one slot available, but can purchase up to four. The perks range from having extra armour, or choosing to automatically electrocute anyone who comes too close to you. The gavel is your gun, and yes, it’s a rifle looking gun with a gavel at the end. It’s all very poetic really. As with Cyberware, you can customize your gavel in a similar fashion. You can purchase different projectile types from a machine gun to a laser. You can also equip a special weapon such as heavy rockets. There are perks that can be equipped that increase your rate of fire, or allow you to carry more special ammo.
The customization is easily what brings everything in JYDGE together. Heavily investing in the many upgrades make it so you have several options to deal with any situation thrown at you. You can make a build that is simply a powerhouse with a riot shield granting a huge armour boost, and heavy rockets with increased special ammo. You can simply run in without the fear of being killed so easily and blow everyone to bits with your rockets. I’ll tell you, this is freakin’ fun to do. Other builds can be made that make you into a stealthy ninja almost. You can have perks that make it so you cannot be seen if you stand still. This makes it a very reliable perk to use for stages requiring not to be seen. Despite all the abilities available, by no means are the objectives any easier to complete. The challenge is still very much there.
The level design in JYDGE is done very well as each level varies from one to another. Some levels will force you through tight corridors to save hostages, others will have you duke it out in large areas against hordes of enemies. Some stages may implore both styles depending on the objectives. It usually helps to scope out the place prior to going in and learn enemy patrols and routes if you plan on being unseen. Even if you want to rush in and gun the place, knowing enemy placements helps so you know they don’t have hidden reinforcements. There are crates to also loot within each level granting you cash rewards which you can spend on upgrades, so scouting around for these will only benefit you in the long run.
The level variation is much appreciated, as I never felt like I visited the same area twice. Perks you unlock later on also play a role in the environment, as many pieces are destructible, including walls. It’s always fun to walk through windows or shoot a hole through a wall to surprise snipe and enemy on the otherside. Even firing rockets gives much sanctification and depict much destruction as furniture and objects nearby are blown to smithereens in the wake of the explosion.
JYDGE’s visuals aren’t much to write home about. It’s not bad by any means, but it also won’t make you say wow. All the pieces do serve their purpose however, especially lighting and weapon effects that help add some dazzle to the scene. The art style is quite nice, and sneaking around alleyways full of neon coloured lights with red mist below from the city always helps to set the mood for your assault. Even though the visuals do appear rather simple, the game seemed to drop frames during big fire fights where lots of enemies and explosions occurred. Despite this, the game is still very playable and the smooth gameplay endures through this.
The audio does it’s job nicely. Weapon sounds are quite pleasing, and blowing up enemies with things like rockets leads to the sound of blood splattering on the ground. I particularly loved the sound of the laser, and combined with one shot kills, left me very gratified. The audio details underneath the rather simple looking game help add a nice layer to the presentation. The music is also very interesting as it resembles hip hop beats from the early 2000’s. Some of the beats may sound out of place at first, but when you start raiding an enemy hideouts or club, they fit in quite nicely and make you feel pretty bad ass. The whole vibe kind of reminds me of a police raid you’d see in some cheap action film staring rappers or something, except it’s far from corny.
Where JYDGE will appeal to people is in it’s challenges. Clearing all the stages is no walk in the park. As we discussed earlier in the review, getting to the next stage requires a substantial amount of medals, meaning you’ll need to play stages over to earn medals you’ve missed. The challenges associated with this are quite involved and will test most player. Where the real fun comes in is through the stages hardcore difficulties. Here, enemies hit harder and surviving becomes that much harder. Also, the objectives change up a bit to fit the new difficulty. What may make the challenge a bit easier which I didn’t get to experience is coop play. The game prompted player two to press Y at the start of missions to instantly join in the action. I’m sure taking out enemies would be easier, but it’ll probably bring it’s own challenges. Medals that require not being seen or not taking any damage could possibly be interestingly more difficult, as there is another target to shoot or spot.
Despite having to replay stages again, I never felt the experience to become repetitive at all. I rather enjoyed trying them over and over again no matter how many times I failed requirements of perfect stealth, or to not take any damage. It certainly adds a great amount of lasting appeal to the entire package. Taking into account the deep customization options available, you’ll be trying all sorts of different combinations of abilities and perks for each stage.
JYDGE is surprisingly a great game. On the surface, it almost comes off as something you can dismiss, but when you get deep into it, you’ll find a pretty fun and addictive top down shooter. Taking on stages over and over again never feels dull or boring, as the challenges are all quite varied, and accomplishing them will make you feel very satisfied. Customizing your JYDGE unit is where all the real fun is at though. Using all the different abilities and weapons at your disposal leads to what feels like an endless amount of load outs you can try stages with, and each feel and play quite differently. Being able to switch from action heavy segments to stealthier approaches provides you with many ways to deal with all your obstacles. JYDGE may miss the mark for players who simply want to cruise through the main game modes and be done with it. The requirements to replay stages to earn medals may be a turn off for those players. However, for anyone wanting to take on and complete all the challenges, and put in the time and effort to customize your JYDGE unit will find much to enjoy here, especially at it’s low price point.
Disclaimer: This review was done using a Nintendo Switch copy of JYDGE provided by the games publisher/developer, 10tons. Please be assured that this did not affect my opinion of the game, and that my criticisms are an honest and true representation of my thoughts on the game.