STOP. You violated the law. Pay the court a fine or serve your se-wait…oh, okay, my superiors have passed jydgement and require your death.
JYDGE is the latest indie on Nintendo Switch, a top down shooter, coming from developer 10tons. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of this neon colored city.
JYDGE’s story, if you can call it that, is pretty simplistic. The stench of crime has enveloped a city known as Eydenbyrg. Bank robbers, gang members and weapons of destruction infest the streets and buildings. As such, the JYDGE program is launched, deploying state of the art police units in order to rid the city of these lawbreakers. Is this important? Maybe to establish the context of the world around you, but no, it’s mainly your excuse to restore order to this cesspool of a town.
JYDGE is a top down twinstick shooter. Move with the left stick, aim with the right stick, use the Z triggers to shoot normal and special weaponry, the L trigger for melee and B to reload. It’s an easy game to pick up and play but requires mastery of the controls for later levels. That sounds silly, but certain missions do require quick reflexes in addition to proper mods and knowledge of the current level in the context of your objective; JYDGE can be surprisingly tricky at times as you make your precise movements.
The game’s structure is mission based. Every mission has
six nine objectives, three per difficulty level. Completing objectives gets you badges (essentially like the common structure of mobile games these days), which unlock weapon variants (the typical shotgun, machine gun, lasers, etc), weapon mods (fire rate, range, etc) and suit mods (armor, health, invisibility, etc). These mods, incidentally, are the reason for which the game has a staggering amount of variety. Following upgrades, your gun holds three mods (in addition to the interchangeable basic and special weaponry) and your suit holds four. Missions demand everything from speedrunning them in less than 20 seconds, not killing anyone, not being seen (essentially turning the game into Metal Gear Solid), killing everyone, saving hostages and disarming bombs, to name a few. Every single one of these scenarios has a specific combination of mods and weaponry to succeed at it, and experimentation is the cornerstone of the gameplay, not to mention it’s very high replayability. And that’s before co-op play for double the madness (or controller throwing, who knows).
Complementing this is the gameplay itself; missions are naturally short the first time through, but combing through an entire mission’s badges can take you multiple tries and a lot of time. A smart design choice stemming from this is that after death, you can change your loadout on the fly and retry the level without having to go back to the menu. It’s quite addicting to be retrying a level with new combinations and seeing what works (I once managed to be hooked on a specific perfect stealth mission for an hour). To top it all off, loading times for everything are very, very fast, taking less than five seconds on average, so it’s never boring. Get ready to pour lots of time into one mission eventually. JYDGE’s gameplay is, to put it simply, amazing.
As is the graphical presentation; minimalistic but also stylized. Even though the setting always has a dark undertone, it finds ways to be colorful in spite of this, such as a high amount of neon lights or perhaps a red sky representing the height of a building you’re in. And all of it looks great, even your enemies (and yourself) exploding into gory bits can be satisfying to look at, not to mention a visual indicator of level progress. Top all of that with a 60 FPS performance with no slowdown and JYDGE is a great looking and great performing indie.
The music, particularly, is a great complement to the visuals. Tracks are short, as befitting the similarly long levels, and it all sounds like something you’d hear in a Judge Dredd or RoboCop game, which is fitting given that the player character clearly takes inspiration from the former (YOU ARE THE LAW). Tracks have a combination of electronic, rock, and even smooth feels at times, so there’s a great amount of variety to it, and the track changes every time you restart a level to avoid repetition. One knock against the music is that there’s no sound test, which is a huge shame. Some of these tracks are serious ear worms.
At this point, there’s not much to add which hasn’t been said already. But it can be summarized to a few key details: Easy to pick up and play, hugely replayable, great looking, great sounding and heaps of fun, so JYDGE is definitely an indie for everyone to check out. Suit up and shoot up the crime until there’s none left.