When crime has over run the city of Edenbyrg and there’s nowhere left to turn, who do you call? JYDGE! that’s who, a robot who throws down the gavel by taking out anyone in his way. The game is a top down arcade twin-stick shooter, developed and published by 10tons. Based on Neon Chrome (another game from 10tons) you play as the JYDGE, a robot that uses the gavel, which just so happens to be a multi-use weapon with an actual gavel built into the end. His job is to serve justice by killing mob bosses and save hostages with a huge amount of weaponry and technology at his disposal.
When I started to play the first thing I had noticed is there is no mini tutorial or even a helpful screen to show you the controls of the game. After quickly checking out the control layout in the pause menu, I jumped straight into the fray and got ready for the journey ahead. The game is served over four acts with eighteen levels in total, but don’t worry if that sounds a bit on the weak side because there’s a lot of replay value to be found here. Each level offers up three challenges, all of which fluctuate in difficulty depending on what task you’re assigned. You might find yourself saving hostages, nuking the level in a set amount of time, or running a mission without taking any damage. Take my word for it when I tell you that this game can be pretty brutal as far as difficulty is concerned.
JYDGE may well look like a badass but he hardly takes damage like a champ. On the contrary JYDGE barely has a threshold for it, leading to frequent deaths that are anything but few and far between. To counter this you will be earning money at the conclusion of each level via completing challenges or locating loot boxes within. This will go towards purchasing upgrades for JYDGE, which ranges from weapon attachments to body and weapon mods. These will collectively boost JYDGE’s durability and damage output, which gradually turns you into a robotic Chuck Norris-like Robocop wannabe. It’s going to cost you a pretty penny to earn enough cash to make much of a difference at first, but for every upgrade you unlock and apply, you do feel the difference during combat. There’s a surprisingly large pool of variety too, including bullets that do no damage to hostages, beefier firepower, and hacking mods to open doorways quicker, they all prove to come in handy. Needless to say that the most impressive feature here is the customisation, that goes without saying.
The controls are simple, but then that’s a given when it comes to twin-stick titles. I did have to turn off the auto-aim feature due to it becoming too hectic when multiple enemies are on-screen but outside of that there’s very little to groan about as far as the actual gameplay goes. It helps of course that the game looks good. The theme and setting of the game is futuristic neo-apocalypse, with bright signs and adverts littered throughout the world to light up your environments in a flurry of varying colours. Level design can be somewhat hit-and-miss, often giving you a grid-like map to work through, but it gets the job done nevertheless. It most certainly is not on the same par of quality as (say) RUINER, but it doesn’t exactly skimp on the overall presentation.
Releasing so soon after RUINER, it’s hard to recommend JYDGE over the former. JYDGE certainly wins when it comes to how much you can customise and upgrade the titular law enforcer, but it falls short on other fronts. The lack of levels and the unpredictable chaos of auto-aim does leave much to be desired, but that’s not to say that this is a poor addition to the genre it adopts. Whilst the level design will do little to impress it does house enough detail to earn a pass, and when you group that with the solid gameplay (auto-aim disabled) and the vast amount of replay value, JYDGE is definitely one to recommend. Just don’t expect it to blow your mind outside of the impressive customisation system.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.