Disclaimer: PC Aficionado was provided with a code for the purpose of this review. All thought and opinions expressed in the review are the writers own and are not influenced by the developer and/or publisher in anyway.
Jydge, yeah they spelled it like that. Doing the Mortal Kombat thing, keeping it Koherent. It’s by 10tons Ltd, who did Crimsonland and Neon Chrome and about ten billion other top-down shooters, they’ve carved a bit of a niche for themselves doing top-down shooters and Jydge is their best yet.
In Jydge, you are the jydge, jyry and execytioner, and go about doing Jydge things in this coming of age slice of life teen drama, shooting streetpunk cyber-criminals and saving VIP hostages while getting all ghillied up in a menagerie of cyberpunk bells and whistles. And learning not to mentally pronounce Jydge as Jidge, hit me up if you manage to do that.
It’s a top-down shooter with a heavy loadout-based approach to clearing out levels. The Jydge is an adaptable beast of the modern age, and is fine with just about any play-style you want to deal with. With mostly destructible levels – no amount of drywall or furniture is a match for the power of gun – a stealth system that somewhat exists and more passive slottable abilities than you can poke a USB stick at, any murder mayhem adventure is yours for the taking.
To counteract this anachronistic freedom of choice, the developers cleverly based each level around achieving specific goals in order to progress. Starts with simple stuff – don’t blow up the hostages, actually pick up the evidence folders instead of tap dancing on them, after which objectives gradually get more interesting – use only melee, cause no destruction of public property (harder than it sounds when The Jydge is always eager to demonstrate that these boots are made for walking), fire your weapon no more than three times, that sort of thing.
As a whole, the game echoes that pacing. You start off slow and tanky but have the ability to just bullrush through levels in 20 seconds each, and gradually build into your preferred playstyle with a host of options for handling Grim/Nightmare.
- You can be a Berserker so psycho they’re in need a letterman jacket and a chicken mask with: Riot Shield, Hacker Tool, Ruthless Fast Legs
- You could be a slow and sneaky sniper blending in with the shadows with: Chameleon or Blender (not both), Hacker Tool, Ruthless, Fast Legs.
- You can be a guardian of the peace, never laying a hand on a hostage and ensuring that all traffic direction goes well with: Civil Protection Plan, Riot Shield, Ruthless, Fast Legs.
You’ll probably just gravitate to the items you like the most and try to shoehorn them into every situation. I’m sure there’s a guy in love with the “barrels explode slightly more” cyberware. Good on that guy, someone has to be the Paul Blart: Mall Cop of cybernetic law enforcement.
All your play styles are accommodated by the level design – it’s the cyberware and weapon mods that do the heavy lifting when it comes to adjusting the playstyle itself over the firemode, and even with the economy you’ll end up with most of the cyberwares and weapons mods regardless.
Pro Tip, me to you: Use Shadow Blend, Ruthless, Hacking Tool, Lights Out and the C4/Snyper with relevant mods for stealth missions. That’ll carry you through them and saves you blowing all your cash on the minigun. Although using a shotgun is far more viable than you’d think.
Apart from the loadouts driving the game’s gameplay, there’s “medals”, the missions in existing levels to gain more progress – unlock more levels to play and weapons/mods to buy. Notice I said buy and not automatically gain, and this is somewhere that the game just lands on its face: the endgame economy is a trainwreck. Once you run through all the loot-boxes on each difficulty option, your incomes drops like a stone. So let’s say on a first time run on any given level, you can get up to 10 000 future-bucks, but on subsequent runs that’s just going to be 500-1500 depending on whether or not you win a mission or not.
The average weapon takes 150 000 Chuck-E-Cheese Tokens to fully upgrade, and you want to fully upgrade it since it’ll deal 4x or so the original damage, more or less required for the later Nightmare missions that requiring murdering every enemy on a map in a strict time limit.
What I’m saying is that the minigun sucks. I grinded that sucker up and it sucks. I’m more disappointed in myself than the game. Just stick to the Shotgyn/Snyper, they’ll carry you through about every mission short of Nightmare specialized ones.
You’ll be using all this in a host of levels. The levels themselves are all mechanically complex, fast-paced and interesting with several avenues available through each one, which is good because you’ll be playing each at the very least four times, but more realistically close to twenty. The soundtrack is nice, although it’s a bit obvious that they just asked musicians to use their work with how the music doesn’t really loop (not really a problem, levels take 20 seconds-2 minutes), and the sfx is all meaty and punchy and all that.
They get you to replay those levels since all the loot-boxes, medals, enemy layouts and such change from difficulty to difficulty, and it handles difficulty extremely well. Some slight boosts in enemy stats, but mostly they’ll just place a few more down and tell you to do harder objectives. It’s fun to go from one difficulty to the other and you never feel like you’re being thrown up against tedious or insurmountable odds. Once you figure out how to pump your weapon to insane damage outputs and pump your stealth, anyway.
Don’t worry about bad performance or the like. Played this on an absolute toaster on full settings, and it ran smooth as can be, no frame dips regardless of amount of enemies, bodies, or exploding walls on display. Runs like a dream, which is worryingly nice to see these days.
The aesthetic is Neon Chrome. Brought up Neon Chrome earlier in the review; Jydge uses same gameplay, same view, same destruction tech (which is great, by the way, make your own doors), some of the same assets, it’s Neon Chrome 2: Electric Boogaloo. With less procgen, more actual decent levels, and lo and behold it’s a better game. Not sure why they say it’s a roguelike (roguehate, I guess) at all when these levels and placements are hand-crafted and show for it. For those who haven’t played Neon Chrome, the art style is vertex shading, steep drops ending in mist and being generally low-poly. It’s consistent and coherent, even if the lighting does look cheap.
Add to that, the music and SFX is all fine. Music is pretty obviously them just asking random bands if they can use their work, since it doesn’t loop (not really a problem with how short levels are) and the SFX is all meaty and punchy.
So you do all the levels, get all the medals required for the ending, try not to kill too many civilians since there’s a dumb moral system and your reward is some lame monologue over a black screen. That’s it. Sometimes you get news reports that are monologues over the Neon Chrome logo. The most interesting lines of dialogue is someone gushing over the Gavel, your fungun, and that represents a significant chunk of the voicework and lore for the game.
Mostly this is fine, because the pacing and climactic levels still work, but it does contribute to all of the secret areas and collectibles just being lame references to cartoons, movies, or their other games. References that stop being funny real quickly. The first time you see the Reservoir Dogs in the bank, sure, “Heyyy I know that” and it’s even contextualized, but by the time you’re just walking through the Rick and Morty house or fighting Jesse and James for a pokeball, it’s not funny. This might have some Dredd staples but none of the wit or satire from that carries over to this.
Overall – great levels that accommodate and require multiple playstyles to beat, deftly-handled difficulty that starts soft and goes hard without being cheap about it, gameplay that’s as tactical or as fast and hectic as you want, a non-story that isn’t really a negative, a terrible economy that is, and you’ve got Jydge.
Absolutely worth playing, I’d recommend to anyone interested in a gameplay-driven and varied shooter that manages to be hectic and fast paced without relying on the “death-respawn-death-respawn” cycle that’s become synonymous with these indie games.
- Versatile Gameplay
- Slick Presentation
- Breakneck Pacing
- Neat Aesthetic
- Poor Economy Balancing
- Some Corner-Cutting
- Over-Reliance on References