Jydge? Judge? Or however the pronunciation goes, is a top down twin stick sci-fi shooter from the guys at 10tons. That may sound slightly familiar as very recently released Neon Chrome was thrust upon the Switch user base, which fits almost the exact same description. Well, that’s because Neon Chrome and Jydge are actually sister titles, similar to games like Zelda Seasons and Ages. Now, I didn’t review Neon Chrome, but my good friends over at Switch Watch did and I highly recommend you check their review out if you want to know more.
But you’re here for Jydge, right? The main difference that sets it apart from its sister game is the progression. Where Neon Chrome could be a punishing Rogue-like experience, Jydge is a linear predefined one. Enemies are in the same place every time you play one of the pre-planned levels. It was made in response to some folk not quite getting on with Rogue-like designs, which is fair enough. Personally I think I prefer this iteration of game style. While I do love a good Rogue-like (one of my favourite games of all time is Azure Dreams, for example), I think I prefer the structured nature in a shooting action game like this. I think it fits the genre much better.
Without too much in the way of a story, your city has become overrun by gangs and crime lords, and as an extreme response the government has initiated the Jydge Project, which if you’ve every read or seen Judge Dredd, it’s basically a rip off. You complete various set missions, each with a main goal in mind.
What I liked the most about these missions is the fact that the goals really do differ. Each mission has three goals in mind, one main goal and two secondary. The main one could be something like rescue all the hostages, defeat all the enemies or defeat one particular boss. The secondary goals could be something like, pick up all the loot, don’t take damage or even complete it in a set time. As the game itself states, completing all three goals in one play is quite unlikely for the most part and so levels may need to be replayed. Some of them can be pretty challenging too, even on the normal difficulty. The timed challenges seem almost impossible for me. Each goal you check off will earn you a medal which can then allow you to progress in other things such as unlocking power ups or newer missions.
One plus point that I really quite liked was the re-working of levels. After you complete an Act of levels on normal difficulty, those levels are upped in difficulty and have three new goals to achieve so you can get even more medals. It makes the game surprisingly longer than you would initially think by just looking at the map screen where all the levels are laid out.
The gameplay is obviously key in a shooter and I’m pleased to say it’s pretty solid in Jydge. It follows as you’d expect, moving with the left analogue stick and aiming with the right. Firing isn’t automatic though as some precision is needed, especially with civilians around, so firing is done with the ZR button.
From an isometric top-down perspective, you wander around homes and offices, in tower blocks and so on, blasting away at the bad guys. Most of the levels are open for you to come at however you want. Maybe you can find a sneaky way in, taking enemies down as quietly as possible, or you can go in full guns blazing in a huge fire fight, smashing windows and blowing holes in walls. It’s up to you how you take it. I think the stealthy side is slightly more difficult as there really aren’t mechanics in play for it, so it can be a little clumsy at times. I would have liked a sneak button or something more stealthy, but it is what it is.
The game prides itself on customisation, boasting it as being a large selling point of the game. And to be fair, there are quite a lot of options. You can equip various augmentations to both your suit and weapon, known as the gavel (get it? It’s because you’re a judge!). There is an impressive amount of varied options available to you, almost to an overwhelming level, especially when you get further in the game and have unlocked a few of them. With only four slots for your armour, you have to make some really tough decisions. Do you want more health? Hacking ability?
Again, with your weapon, tough choices have to be made to fill the five slots. One is for your type on ammunition. Normal shots, shot gun blasts, lasers and so on. Then you have a slot for your secondary weapon. Rockets, grenades, stun grenades? Then three slots for upgrades, whether you want more ammo, faster reloading, ability to not shoot civilians. There’s just so much choice.
There’s probably more to unlock and equip than there is game to play which is odd to say. But it does feel like there’s more stuff to use than there is to use it on if that makes any sense?
Graphically the game is a bit of a mixed bag. While I think the art direction is great, because who doesn’t like neon-lit futurescapes? I love the style, but Jydge still bares the hallmarks of its small indie development. It does look a little rough around the edges in terms of animation and models, environments and such.The music was pretty sweet though, it suited the theme of the game well. I found myself nodding to the music quite often.
Overall, Jydge is a fun top down twin stick shooter. Presentation-wise it’s not the best with animation and environments looking on the slightly simple side, but the gameplay is just about their with absolutely tons of customisation available, probably more than necessary. If you couldn’t get along with Neon Chrome’s Rogue-like progression, but enjoyed the gameplay, then Jydge’s predefined missions may be the one for you. I’m always a sucker for twin stick shooters and I rather enjoyed Jydge. It’s nothing mind blowing or essential, but it’s a decent time.
Game provided by 10tons.