Review: This Is the Police (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: This Is the Police (Switch)

by Danny Bivens

So you want to be a police chief, eh?

This Is the Police has been kicking around for a few years now. After a successful Kickstarter back in early 2015, the game made its way to PC in the summer of 2016 and then came to consoles earlier this year. Fast-forward to now and This Is the Police is another unique entry into the library of the Switch. There is a lot to unpack here in terms of what this game actually is and how it works. It has been a surprise for sure, mostly good, with a few hiccups along the way.

It’s a little difficult to gauge exactly what you’re getting into with This Is the Police. In short, it’s an adventure/strategy game with elements of real time management. Players take on the role of Jack Boyd, a grizzled police veteran, who is being ousted as police chief by the corrupt mayor. Boyd is being forced into retirement and has just 180 days left on the force. During his final days as police chief, Boyd is working toward a private goal of saving half a million dollars on top of managing crime in the city of Freeburg.

Although there are story scenes and ample dialog spread throughout the experience, players will spend the majority of their time looking at a semi-interactive model of the city of Freeburg. After a brief look at newspaper headlines on Boyd’s dining room table, players then “go to work” by pressing A and are brought to the model. It is here that the players manage the police force over the 180 days. Time spent during the day is entirely contingent on what you are deciding to do with the police force. Days could be over in probably less than five minutes if you sit and do nothing. But come on! Being a police chief comes with responsibilities.

Crimes pop up at varying times throughout the day. Pressing and holding the ZL button allows players to access what crimes are taking place. At the same time, a timer shows how long is left to send units to the scene. After the officers take care of the crime, players can check the outcome (i.e. if any officers or civilians were killed, etc) by pressing ZR then A. Conversely, if you ignore a crime and/or the timer runs out, you can still see the outcome of the crimes, which is probably going to result in people dying (in this case civilians).

This is where the management aspects come into play. You only have a limited number of officers to send to the scene. It takes time for them to get to where they are going and return to the police station. You’re going to want to bust as many bad guys as you can because if you don’t there are some consequences. If you repeatedly fail, City Hall, the master of your budget, will decide that the police force is doing poorly and will make you fire someone in the department. Early in the game this isn’t much of an issue, however, it can lead to situations where you just don’t have enough officers to take care of crime in the city and sink to being more and more ineffective. It might be just an issue of me needing to “git gud,” but situations like this were frustrating.

The game gets even more complex. Each officer that you have on your team has their own stats, namely a “professionalism” number that is attached to them. The higher the number, the more effective they are going to be on the job. Players can even opt to promote members of the force which increases their professionalism as well as leadership ability. If you send multiple officers into a dangerous situation, the higher the professionalism and/or rank the officers have, the better. Officers can and will die in the line of duty. Not only that, but sometimes your staff will come up with some kind of excuse and request the day off or refuse to come to work entirely. This semi-realistic aspect can be funny from time to time but can also be annoying when multiple people decide to simply not show up.

While standard police officers make up the majority of the force, there are also detectives that look into investigations. These present players with photographs from crimes that have to be placed in the correct order. Early on, these are relatively easy to piece together after reading through eyewitness accounts, however, sometimes you simply won’t get enough of the frames to complete an investigation due to the ineffectiveness of your detective. With more time or changing detectives, this can be remedied. These can be frustrating but I really found myself engaged and having fun with most of the investigations I came across.

The visuals in This Is the Police are fantastic and simple at the same time. The characters lack detail (mainly they don’t have distinguishable faces), but this is an intentional artistic choice. The game features a cel shaded look and has story elements portrayed with storyboards and full voice acting (Boyd’s character is played by Jon St. John aka Duke Nukem). The writing in the game has a great range, going from serious, to creepy to freaking hilarious. There are some really weird and funny situations that the police force of Freeburg finds themselves in and I really enjoyed reading these clips. The overall story itself is interesting, but sometimes feels that it’s spread too thin over the really long amount of time you’ll be spending going through day to day grunt work before getting to anything juicy.

This Is the Police is a really slow burn. There’s a ridiculous amount of content here, but things do get repetitive on the road to Boyd’s retirement. Despite this, there is a lot of funny dialog and situations that are sprinkled throughout the game that had me literally laughing out loud. The voice acting, particularly of Jack’s character, is well done and there is a decent amount of variation to the gameplay. With that said, there is some monotony and it’s can be very easy to lose sight of what Boyd is actually working toward. If you’re into more slow paced games, essentially This Is the Police amounts to an interactive novel, something that you don’t find very often on consoles. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s a unique game that is welcome in the ever-growing library of Switch titles.

Final Score: 7.0

(Review code provided by the publisher)


Famicomplicated said...

Disappointed the dildo mission didn't get a mention in the review! (see episode 113)

Dannybiv said...

A picture (or screenshot) is worth a thousand words. It's here in the review! lolz!