It’s amazing to see stuff evolve over time.
10tons, a company known for creating such basic non-games for a while, have slowly been creeping up in terms of quality over quantity. First on the list was Xenoraid, a basic but artful shoot ’em up that managed to do just enough to stay fresh and exciting. Then, Time Recoil, a product of its inspirations that had more flair and grace than most of the other clones could, would and ever should (psst, my review of it is here!). Finally, JYDGE, a twin-stick that may be as advanced as they get.
JYDGE is the third in the series known as “The Crimson Trilogy”, with the previous releases Crimsonland and Neon Chrome being the other two parts. JYDGE is set before the events of Neon Chrome and that’s all that matters since, as stated before in the Time Recoil review, 10tons doesn’t do stories and could care less. Rightfully so, I reckon but let’s lay the land first.
You are JYDGE, an android who is used in “The JYDGE Initiative” in order to combat the rampaging crime that’s consistently present in the city of Edenbyrg. With that, you’re patrolling through the streets, taking care of anyone who dare think to challenge the JYDGE. Also, this is as creative as the writers get with the whole “Y” replacing “U” thing.
That’s one thing that annoys me actually, as a grammar freak. Why did they do this? It doesn’t even make sense in most cases. There’s one weapon called the Snyper, and that makes sense! But the Lead Byllets? The “Electrocyte!” ability? Heavy Ryckets? That’s painfully forced, but no worse than JYDGE, since that’s not even abbreviated, despite the ease of doing so. Again, writing’s clearly not their strong suit, as evident from the voice acting.
Okay, have you ever seen the cut-scenes in the Charlie’s Angels game adaptation? Right, imagine that, but with the acting done by a brain-dead Microsoft Sam and Samantha. Now I’m not saying that’s what they did, but good God, they read lines like they just figured out what their vocal chords are for. Nevertheless, it’s fat that gets in the way of the meat.
Real quick, I’m just going to say that the aesthetic of the game gets a quick thumbs up here. It’s all moody darkness with a tinge of noire to it, and it reminds me of Perfect Dark, the perfect FPS from Rare. Paired with the muted but effective soundtrack, it adds tone and atmosphere not expected in these kinds of games. It’s got it all, hip hop instrumentals, moody synthwave, and even some head-bumpin’ EDM.
The gameplay of JYDGE is an incredibly huge leap compared to what 10tons were doing beforehand. It’s no longer a straightforward fight to the finish line, you have this massive customization aspect of your JYDGE. Name a factor relating to your character and it can be customized. The Gavel, which is your gun//melee weaponry, your abilities and how The Gavel fires can be tinkered with so it’s tuned to your playstyle, be it stealth or brawn focused.
One aspect they were missing however, is cosmetic customization, and I can understand why it was redacted. It’s a twin-stick, you’ll barely see your character past the gunfire and explosions, but the powdered wig they decided to add onto the JYDGE is one of the most hilariously awful visual design choices I’ve ever seen in a video game. It doesn’t even look threatening! It looks like Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe is about to get a perm!
It doesn’t matter, as the gangsters don’t care about your hair, but you care about them meeting the end of your boomstick, with mission variety being a slight issue. The two most prominent over time will be Hostage Situations and Bounty Hunting, both of which will end up with the same result. Bloodshed and the janitor working overtime, which comes across as fun.
Given the amount of weaponry and abilities that are attached to the JYDGE, and the plethora of others that can be unlocked after completing specific requirements, there are plenty of ways you can decimate your foes and snatch victory from their hands. But it’s the specific requirements that kill the whole playthrough, in all honesty. Let me put it like this.
The requirements themselves are fine. They’re bog-standard objectives that mostly revolve around speed and lethality, with a few relating to stealth and others relating to collecting evidence. That’s fine, as it rewards with more ways to approach the main objectives. But these sub-objectives are also tied around unlocking the main content, and that’s a no go.
Around halfway through the main missions, I was met with a brick wall. I was unable to unlock any more missions and so, I had to replay the same missions again and again in order to unlock more content, and that’s when the cracks begin to show. Aside from being an insanely stupid way to hold back new missions, it also forces you to adapt to completely different playstyles, which will lead to frustration.
The 2nd worst offender is the stealth objective, where you have to sneak through the buildings in order to eliminate the target or free hostages. These are fine on their own, but you don’t unlock the best stealth upgrades for your JYDGE until 2/3rds of the way through the story. It becomes less about actually one-upping the opposition through clever tactics, and more about cheesing the objective. The worst offender? Well, it’s not even an objective, and more of an obscure mechanics.
Early on, the game warns you about alarm systems that are set in the buildings you’re about to breach. When these alarms go off (and they will), you’ll be met with endless swarms of goons popping shots at you non stop until you find a way to turn them off. The issue with that? There is no way to turn them off. I spent half a god-damn hour scrambling across this city complex, dodging gunfire and explosions in order to find the disabler, and could not find solace. The game places a tip marker over explosive barrels, but these did nothing, and the alarms would still blare even after you’ve nuked the entire area.
After a while, it became a tedious nightmare, one of unequaled proportion, as I would beg to that possible great big God in the sky I would meet with a new level. 10tons gives you a demented form of Stockholm Syndrome, where you sit there begging for the next scenario, anything that’s different from the tripe you’ve been battling beforehand.
Obviously, I prevailed. They don’t call me completely cynical, and was met with more of the same missions, and added were some almost-impossible sub-objectives. “Don’t damage any property”? Are you off your rocker, 10tons? The only way I’m going to able to do that without attempting to kite every enemy to the entrance like a cheap bastard, is by trying to give ’em a kiss and some hash.
Eventually, I came through on top. I saved Edenbyrg, destroyed all criminals everywhere ever, and did it without ending my life over the “Y replacing U” motif. Did I care? Mmmyeah, kind of, there’s still an effort to put life into the world, which is why most gunfights will take place in between civilians rushing to safety, reminiscent of the opening scene from Blade Runner. I just wish the road to victory wasn’t so annoying.
JYDGE gets a slight thumbs up from me. Not only is it 10tons learning from the shyt (sorry) shovelware they were producing beforehand, but it is a mostly well-made twin-stick. There’s effort put into gameplay, there’s life and fun times had all around, and the reward for completing such dull objectives is a teeny bit gratifying. But that powdered wig needs to go, I’m sorry.
A twin-stick that starts off with smooth sailing, before heading into a rocky outcrop of bad design choices.