10tons multiplatform hit JYDGE ($8.99) is out now on iOS. JYDGE is a twinstick shooter set in a late twentieth century urban dystopian future. You play as the titular Jydge, a cop with the authority to dispense justice to bad guys, save hostages and confiscate contriband loot along the way. You are equipped with a wide array of cyberware enhancements and your trusty firearm, Gavel, complete with various firing modes and its own upgrades. You have been tasked with completing various missions that upon completion award you with points and credits to further upgrade and customize your gear. Much like its predecessor Neon Chrome ($0.99), you can quickly get overwhelmed in enemy fire if you aren’t careful. JYDGE does, however, step away from Neon Chrome in a few key areas. The levels are not procedurally generated and and feel more fine-tuned. JYDGE also trades in the endless run idea for finite levels that seem to better encapsulate the sometimes limited time requirements of being on a mobile platform.
I’m not usually disposed to talking much about the options a game offers, but JYDGE does have a robust amount of graphical options available. While only providing volume sliders for music and ambient sounds, this game serves up several options to customize your device’s method of visual delivery. The game defaulted to just under the medium preset on my iPhone 6+ so be sure if you pick it up to double check where your device stands. In case you are unsure of what settings are best, be sure to check out our forums thread for settings advice.
Enemies in JYDGE are pretty one-dimensional. If they see you or a fleeing hostage, they will open fire and pursue. While there is some diversity in what they are equipped with, you never get the feeling that you are fighting anything but random street thugs. This along with additional levels beyond the initial 4 acts are the two areas I think future expansion could really help address. I want to see bad guys that are distinct from each other and maybe even require slightly different approaches in order to best in combat. As it is, one of my few gripes with the game is just how boring the bad guys are.
JYDGE has a style that is a very specific flavor of futuristic that a lot of you may be familiar with. Now you may think, “Why Andy, it’s obvious that this is a super blatant Judge Dredd rip off." To that claim I would say no it’s actually much closer to Robocop. Outside of the cinematic universe, the story line of the Dredd comics is actually more fantasy that future related. I suppose in some ways JYDGE is the product of combining a Judge Dredd character with the 80’s dystopian futurism of Robocop. To be completely honest though, that splash art on the loading screen reminds me most of Cobra Commander in a wig which really is kind of the best of both worlds.
Regardless of the true source material of the JYDGE universe, the music and visual style are the real winners when it comes to conveying a sense of setting. Urban decay and office buildings are emblazoned with neon accents and highlights that pull double duty and show interactable items and doorways that might otherwise be tough to spot. A low hovering synth is usually rumbling through the speaker suggesting that I am actually watching an old buddy cop movie and just happen to be controlling one of the characters. Very few games paint an audible picture of a grimy urban street fight as well as JYDGE. Hotline: Miami, Grand Theft Auto, and a great favorite from my childhood Streets of Rage (Free) all are on my short list of games that conduct a pavement pounding score.
Mechanically JYDGE plays outstandingly. The movement and aiming responsiveness and accuracy are really great. The only beef I have with the game is that when you have auto-aim on, it seems to be difficult sometimes to convince your character to open fire. Rotating the aiming reticle works just fine but once you have your shot lined up and ready to fire you may find that either the controls are sluggish or non-responsive. Luckily I seemed to be able to circumvent this issue by switching to manual aim in the settings. Once I started aiming for myself there was no delay in when I wanted my guy to start firing and when he actually fired. Hopefully this can be adjusted in future updates as this is really the only annoyance I have experienced with the game.
Mission objectives usually focus on the elimination of targets, retrieval of items, or salvation of hostages. Occasionally the game will throw you a sideways objective like “dont break any items" or “dont be seen." The stealth system in JYDGE is pretty solid. I don’t think I could say it rivals Metal Gear Solid or anything, but if you have a cyberware enhancement that enables stealth, you do get an indicator over your head if you are invisible. Stealth missions (like most games that have stealth) are a bit of a chore but the way the game handles upgrading and unlocking further content means you dont really HAVE to do the stealth stuff if you dont want to.
Each mission has a set of 3 objectives, and eventually 3 more will open up under a higher difficulty. After a few hours of gameplay, a third difficulty unlocks and you will find yourself going back to earlier levels and experiencing them in a completely different context. The game has a really solid flow to it. Unlocking upgrades and purchasing them feels very rewarding and will allow you to complete missions that you thought were previously very tough or even impossible. While the story of JYDGE is barebones outside of its justice related puns and won’t be confused for a gamebook any time soon, it’s really the run and gun gameplay placed perfectly in a fleshed out atmosphere that will keep you hooked on this twin-stick delight.