Story: In the future, the streets are overrun with dangerous criminals, making law enforcement an almost impossible task. In an effort to turn the tide, the police have developed cyborg tech to fight back against criminals in ways normal officers simply couldn’t manage. After all, these powerful hybrids can engage numerous crooks, withstand intense punishment, and be upgraded with countless perks, so it is a huge advantage on the side of the law. Of course, these cyborgs aren’t indestructible, so success isn’t a guarantee, but the odds are leveled somewhat. In JYDGE, you step into the shoes of one of these incredible cyborgs, battle it out on the streets, and upgrade so you can keep pace with the criminal vermin. But even with all of these tools at your disposal, can you make the streets safe again?
Entertainment Value: The narrative here is a mixture of Judge Dredd and Robocop, which is course a super fun premise, even if only brief cutscenes exist to further the storylines involved. As a huge fan of twin stick shooters, I was excited to dive into the action and JYDGE didn’t disappoint, with quick burst levels that are ideal for both short sessions and marathons. The levels task you to rescue hostages, eliminate targets, or collect evidence and once you’ve completed your mission, simply return to your car and you can progress. But there’s more to each level than just that, as you have three goals you can complete to earn badges, which gate your overall progress. To unlock new levels, you need a certain number of badges, so you can go back to previous ones after you’ve upgraded and knock out the objectives you missed. Each stage also offers a harder run, with deadlier enemies and new objectives, so the shift in difficulty impacts much more than just enemy health pools. Even if you’re not good as say speed runs, once you have unlocked some upgrades, you can tailor your build to a specific objective, complete it, then go back to your usual loadout. I found most of the objectives to be fair and fun to chase, but the “do not get spotted” ones were often a pain, as detection is hit & miss and seems almost random at times. But you earn cash toward upgrades even if you fail the objectives, so there’s always that. You can also permanently unlock doors if you find the keys, so even if you have to perish to make sure a door is opened, sometimes that risk is worth the reward. In other words, don’t feel like you need to finish all the objectives in one run.
While JYDGE isn’t a super long game, you can run through both offerings of each level, as well as explore the upgrade system. And this is a hell of an upgrade system, with a wealth of perks, gun mods, and firing options. You need to complete objectives and save up cash to unlock the various upgrades, but once you’ve put some time in, you can build your JYDGE in almost endless ways. Be a brute that is hard to kill and melee your enemies, be a sneaky sniper with the speed to leave enemies in the dust, or turn yourself into a walking arsenal of bullet based death, or you know, any other combination of the numerous unlocks. Give yourself speed boots or a health upgrade, add stun or a reload pulse to your weapon, maybe trade out lead bullets for a bouncing laser, the possibilities are almost endless here. As someone who loves both twin stick shooters and upgrade trees, I was in heaven with JYDGE. Not to be overlooked are the precise controls that ensure you can mow down enemies and keep yourself safe, unless Ray Ron happens to show up, that is. If you don’t want to go the streets alone, you can invite a buddy in for some couch coop, which is a welcome inclusion. I had an absolute blast with JYDGE and for fans of twin stick shooters, this one earns my highest recommendation.