With crime waves in Edenbyrg reaching a record high, the police chief has made the dramatic decision to launch the JYDGE initiative. Cybernetic law enforcement takes to streets to eradicate crime in the never-sleeping megacity, presenting players with the chance to suit up and deal ruthless jystice.
Build your JYDGE. Enter Edenbyrg. Get out alive. That is the stoic mantra that 10tons instils for each mission that you undertake in JYDGE – which, I should probably mention is pronounced ‘judge.’ Whether rescuing a family that has been taken hostage, neutralising bank robbers, eliminating a gang leader, destroying some high-tech weaponry, or even being challenged to survive a night shift, you are pushed to complete these missions as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Spread across four acts, the Department of Jystice requires that you achieve a specific number of medals to continually unlock each mission. These are awarded for completing what are essentially bonus objectives for each mission that are listed before you start them and can require that you safely rescue all hostages, loot all containers, or complete and exit the mission within a narrow time limit. There are three Normal objectives that you can immediately tackle, and then, upon the mission’s completion, you can choose to take on three Hardcore objectives.
That soon makes JYDGE a game that relies on some repetition, with the developer challenging the player to learn the intricacies of the location in each mission to know how to shave precious seconds from their completion time. That can come through identifying the quickest routes to your main objective, whether that be through remembering where any necessary door keys are or explosive barrels that can soon make them irrelevant.
It can also come from Cyberware, upgrades that you will continue to unlock after you earn enough medals. These can reduce incoming damage, allow your JYDGE to become invisible when in the dark, or see them automatically electrocute nearby enemies with bolts of electricity. Eventually, it will also let you use a hacking tool to bypass the security on terminals, turrets, and doors, and, while JYDGE is an isometric shooter, there is even one Cyberware that shifts the game viewpoint so that it is directly top-down. After purchasing additional slots, you can equip four Cyberware at any time. That will, ultimately, let you either play to your strengths or alleviate some weaknesses, which will hopefully help when hunting out any remaining medals.
And then there’s the Gavel rifle, which the developer positions as an ultra-versatile and moddable weapon of the law. This can be modified with different weapon mods, fire modes, and special weapons, that, again, will steadily unlock as you earn more medals and the necessary cash to purchase them.
These introduce meaningful changes, too. While the developer continues their peculiar penchant for replacing vowels with the letter ‘y,’ you can soon change your fire mode from Lead Byllets, to the close range Shotgyn, short-range Plasma bolts, or a Heavy Lasyr that bounces off walls, among others. The weapon mods can add effects such as preventing any shots that you fire from harming civilians, increasing your rate of fire, or letting you recover health when you kill an enemy, whereas special weapons call on Heavy Ryckets, a slow-moving high energy Shock Orb, Stun Grenades, Mechanical Spiders that scurry around, and more.
This breadth of approach becomes the greatest strength that JYDGE has, letting each player adopt their own playstyle and tweaking it as they see fit. And, if you want to tackle missions with assistance from another player, they can join as a Co-JYDGE whenever they like.
Cut from the same cloth as Neon Chrome and Time Recoil, the twin-stick gunplay in JYDGE is elevated thanks to its objective-based approach. Its unmistakable flaw lies in repetition, leaving players to replay missions until they have enough medals to unlock the next which, at the same time, pads out the game’s content. When it comes to passing judgement, JYDGE doesn’t deliver the wholly righteous blow that it wants to.