02nd Nov2017

‘This is the Police’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Matthew Smail

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The low-fi graphics and simple, intuitive game play make This is the Police an excellent choice for adaptation to Nintendo Switch. The game is good too, with a gripping, mature story about a Police Chief on the verge of retirement and his dealings with the various factions that hold power in the city, all of which sits atop a unique take on resource management and strategy.

With six months left until his retirement, Police Chief Frank Boyd wants nothing more than to see out his days with as little stress as possible, whilst at the same time amassing himself a nest egg to ensure he stays nice and comfortable. Boyd is known as a pretty straight cop, but events soon conspire to bring characters like The Mayor and local mobster Christopher Sand into the picture to threaten his integrity. Meanwhile, Boyd’s wife has run off with a younger man and his only friend is in deep trouble.

The story unfolds via comic art storyboards that use muted colours and stylised character design to create an alternative film noir aesthetic. This style is complemented by an exceptional voice cast that really brings the world and its characters to life. Boyd feels like a beaten man, yet he has a staunchness and a strong moral compass that make him a strong, likable character. Similarly, characters like Sand are instantly deplorable, whilst there are many shades of grey among the people who sit between them. The whole cast offers a really good mix of complex and interesting people that really makes playing This is the Police an addictive experience.

Outside of the cut scenes which often require the player to make simple decisions based on the current situation, the bulk of gameplay is built around running the city police department on a daily basis. This involves hiring and firing officers and detectives, as well as sending them out to emergency calls, crime scenes and public events or other special situations. What begins as a simple case of balancing the right officers for the job on a call by call basis, you’ll soon be juggling multiple calls and investigations, useless officers and pressures from the mob, city hall or elsewhere.

The death of officers, civilians and criminals is always a risk, as is the possibility of the criminal making good their escape. This is partly influenced by the competency of the officers that you send to a given job, as well as any decisions you make in handling the situation. Do you send officers in through the front door of a hostage situation, or do you tell the SWAT marksmen to shoot on sight and try to take out the suspect?

There are two shifts to manage, each of which has a maximum number of officers and detectives. Sometimes cops will ask for days off or simply burn out, especially once you start asking them to work double duty when times get especially tough. Sometimes the mafia or an old friend will ask Boyd to turn a blind eye or send officers to some event which wouldn’t normally concern the police. In these cases, there’s a chance that Boyd will increase his retirement fund, but that will often be at the cost of using valuable resources that would serve the city better elsewhere.

There are a few other things to manage elsewhere. Requests into city hall for more cops or more money are available right from the start, whilst other features become unlocked in manageable increments. Within a couple of weeks of starting, Boyd has a fairly broad selection of responsibilities to manage on a daily basis, as well as an increasingly complex personal situation. Each day begins with the choice of music for the day, which is a nice touch because it’s probably the only one you’ll make that doesn’t have a life or death consequence.

This is the Police has a fantastic story which is superbly voiced and pleasingly mature in its writing. It works exceptionally well on Switch, with touch controls and graphics that work well on the small screen. Considering the budget price point, it’s also an absolute steal and represents a unique and enjoyable proposition for the discerning commuter. Highly recommended.

**** 4/5

This is the Police is out now from THQ Nordic.

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