PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
The easiest way to answer the question “What is JYDGE” would be to point to 10tons’ other titles, Neon Chrome and Crimsonland, and say – “This”.
If you’ve played Neon Chrome and enjoyed it, then you can skip the rest of this review and go straight to playing JYDGE. It’s pretty obvious who’s the target audience here. JYDGE doesn’t really try to deviate from the “top down shooter” formula 10tons have been reiterating on for the past decade. although it does show some additional fine-tuning and refinement.
You play a faceless, nameless Judge Dredd / RoboCop hybrid as you set out to purge the city of crime while causing extreme collateral damage. If you need to level the entire bank to get at the three robbers in the vault, so be it. If civilians get in the way of your rockets, that’s their problem (unless you’re actually supposed to rescue them in the mission). The camera remains at a respectable overview distance so you can appreciate the carnage you’re causing as you shoot, burn, shock and explode your way through legions of enemies.
After playing the game for several hours, I can say JYDGE feels more like a mobile game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but everything about it just screams “Play me on a tablet”.
You play, replay and then re-replay levels to grind for medals, which unlock additional toys to play with. These can be new weapon modes, cybernetic enhancements or tools.
After you grind enough medals, you can unlock the next level, and after you grind your way through a chapter you unlock the next difficulty. As you might have guessed, this lets you grind the same levels again with a different set of objectives, so you can amass enough medals to unlock the next level. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam.
The one thing JYDGE does differently is the level design. Unlike the randomly-generated levels of many other top-down shooter, JYDGE’s levels are pre-made. Enemy positions, loot, doors, civilians and everything else is fixed, with the various difficulties changing the layout or adding more baddies for you to go through.
This means that completing levels often becomes a simple matter of trial-and-error; especially when going for the more annoying medals, like avoiding detection or killing any enemies.
The medals are both the game’s greatest burden and its biggest source of replayability. They certainly add variety by forcing you to think tactically, beyond “Rush in and murder everyone”.
But this is a game that’s about rushing in and murdering everyone. And yet to progress, the game forces you to complete levels stealthily or in other counter-intuitive ways that are just plain not fun. Like that one mandatory stealth level in every FPS game ever, some people are going to enjoy it while others will want to get back to the hails of gunfire.
JYDGE’s graphics and sound contribute to that “mobile” feel with their simplicity. If we’re being perfectly honest, a great deal of the game’s graphics appears to be copy-pasted straight out of Neon Chrome. The music is a generic assortment of techno loops which don’t get in the way but don’t really do anything else. The enemy sounds, gunfire, explosion and destruction all sound and look pretty simple and basic.
Despite its shortcomings, JYDGE has a certain appeal to it. The levels take a couple minutes to beat, at most, with medals requiring as fast as a 15-second-or-less run. Almost every medal unlocks something new, and dying and retrying is a click away.
It all makes me think of Angry Birds or any other high-profile mobile game that you can play in bursts of a few minutes. My longest single session of JYDGE was around 40 minutes during which I’ve beaten about half the game’s levels on two of the four difficulties. This is not a long game, and I can show the 5.9 hours (thanks, Steam) it took me to almost 100% it as proof.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.