This is the Police (PC Preview)
I always like to think that a protagonist should remain on the side of good, on the side that represents hope and justice, but many video games have allowed you to dabble with that mentality for years by giving the player the devices necessary to make the good or bad moral choice. This is the Police is all about that. Playing a hardened cop and making those everyday crucial life or death calls whilst juggling an unstable relationship between you and this city’s head mafioso. All of this is what to expect in developer Weappy’s debut title.
You play as Jack boyd, an old age police chief on his way out of the workforce and into the comfy confines of retirement. With 180 days until his retirement and in a bit of an ill dispute with the city’s corrupt mayor, our unfortunate protagonist’s retirement will not bear fruit as he has no funds to keep himself going. Jack Boyd now has these remaining days to gather a whopping $500,000 so he can live out the rest of his days comfortably. How Jack goes about gaining this sort of dough is upto the player, they can go about it legitimately by obeying the law or give into the city of Freeburg’s corrupted, polluted nature and work for the Mafia, the Mayor, or anyone else looking to pick Jack apart. These events unfold between each of Jack’s working days. Each day we see a new snippet of story unfold and a whole new set of folk looking to take advantage of your position as chief of police.
At it’s core, This is the Police is a problem solving game above all else. Constantly having to quickly assess crime scene scenarios and judge which is the best route or option to take. A poor decision can lead to a lowering of morale and reliability of the police officers under your command; sometimes a poor choice can even get someone killed. The main navigation screen is simple and easy to understand as you hover your mouse cursor of the model city of Freeburg and actively choose which crimes to deal with and which ones to pass up in hopes of having more manpower for crimes that pose greater danger.
Every crime committed varies in severity and with only a handful of officers at your disposal you’ll need to figure out which officers are suited to handle the call. Petty thefts and your everyday vandal is usually handled by the standard patrol officers where as ones involving a shooting could warrant the need of a SWAT team to get the job done safely. Rarer cases such as Homicides will take priority of your detectives and involves a neat little mini game of sorts where you must match the pictures that suit the scenario described by the witnesses, get them correct and case closed; plus a nice little morale boost for your detectives that worked the case. Some incidents you respond to give several options, but some outcomes can make no sense, even though I’ve cornered a perp with three of my best armed police officers they can still get away and kill civilians, even if you call in the SWAT team.
Bringing criminals to justice isn’t easy and you will require resources to do so, more specifically, money. Your budget is how you go about hiring new officers and detectives if the few you have aren’t cut out for the job. With a constant shift in reliability of officers by way of successful and unsuccessful solving of crimes, you may need to ditch the old and bring in some fresh faces. Ultimately you’ll find yourself pressed if you always make the upstanding moral choice because of the powers that be wish to see you fall, you may have to do a dirty deed from time to time just to make ends meet. In fact, I was too morally upstanding and it got me killed at the end of the day.
This is the Police is minimalist in design, from its very intuitive game screen to its visual design and itreally catches your eye. With this being developer Weappy’s first game their design choice is risky since still images can’t really convey emotion or a sense of what is going on and requires a lot more imagination. This is the Police’s story is presented by these stills with few details as possible penciled in, but with the accompaniment of excellent voice acting, most notably John St. John (Duke Nukem) who plays Jack Boyd is a good fit for a gritty, worn out police chief, helps back up the artistic direction.
This is the Police’s overall lack of complexity combined with easy on the eyes visual design do well in keeping the player in the moment to moment decision making without them straying too far from the computer screen. But its lack of complexity may also be its downfall as the only thing you’ll really be doing is making decisions from text prompts that pop up on screen. It’s a sort of “advanced” text adventure that has a tad of visual flair instead of a plain old black screen. I have a mixed bag of feelings when it come to This is the Police. The story is enticing and makes me want to play on day after in-game day. The minimalist visuals are easy on the eyes and not entirely overwhelming. Navigating the menu is easy but that’s all there really is to the game. The decision making is tough but can sometimes be nonsensical. It’s hard to say how This is the Police will do, but for now I’d give it a thumbs up, we’ll just have to wait to see how it will do come a full release.