10Tons is at it once again. In one week, two titles have come onto Nintendo Switch and now the developer has released JYDGE. If the game reminds you a lot of Neon Chrome, that’s because it proclaims in the opening that it is “based on” Chrome. 10Tons even goes so far as to say that JYDGE is a spin-off/prequel to it. It should come as no surprise then that JYDGE looks identical to Neon Chrome. The player’s point of view is isometric, environments are doused with neon accents, and the character models themselves serve the game well from a distance. What makes JYDGE a different game is its gameplay and the setting for what you are doing.
JYDGE: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch [Reviewed], PS4, PC
Release Date: 4 October 2017/ Nintendo Switch 19 October 2017
Price: $14.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
JYDGE casts players as a Judge Dredd or Robocop-like person that is armed with a customizable “Gavel” Rifle. Alongside the black judge’s wig and the Scales of Justice on the shoulder pads, the theme hits players over the head while simultaneously having no personality. The design of the player character is my largest complaint with the game. Even so, the lack of subtlety matches the rest of the game. The player is part of an initiative meant to eliminate crime after the Cobra Gang leads a crime wave in the fictional city of Edenbyrg. It’s a simple set-up that has been done before but works as a fantasy realization of what it might be like to be Dredd or Robocop.
10Tons labels JYDGE as a “roguehate” game. Instead of randomly produced levels, specially crafted levels and situations with goals have been created for players to progress through. Goals can fluctuate from rescuing hostages to eliminating all enemies, gathering evidence and simply surviving. These goals will rarely be completed in a single run but completed they must be to advance and unlock new abilities. These abilities can increase your damage, make you sneakier, and grant special talents that automatically trigger. All of this together makes JYDGE feel more rigid then Neon Chrome, but also more challenging. The goals in each level also enhance the replayability of JYDGE and makes for great variety for more objective-oriented players.
Despite the increased challenge and goals, JYDGE‘s base gameplay is also identical to Chrome. Both titles are twin-stick shooters that have players navigating areas and approaching situations how they choose to. Abilities can also be exchanged for no penalty after you have purchased them, leading experimentation to be the greatest tool available to players. If players still have trouble, a second local player can join in and rain cooperative justice on enemies. JYDGE manages to be more enjoyable in co-op, but the missed opportunity still lies with no online option.
While sound effects also sound like they share a lot of similarities with Chrome, the music is drastically different. Different pre-made tunes will play over levels in a random order and have a wide range. Ambient tunes, guitar-heavy rock songs show the variety in the soundtrack well. Each tune is enjoyable in its own way, and the variety is commendable but leads to a lack of sonic identity for JYDGE.
While Neon Chrome was a slice of cyberpunk mayhem, JYDGE aims to bring in action movie mayhem of all flavors. It is content letting players find heroic solutions which usually led to gigantic shootouts where I was outnumbered. No matter how chaotic gameplay became, the Nintendo Switch was able to keep up and displayed smooth gameplay throughout. JYDGE does enough to differentiate itself from Neon Chrome that it is enjoyable on its own. The title also has plenty enough in common to say that both titles are from the same world.
JYDGE manages to be a better game due to the immense level of experimentation available. That there is no wrong way to approach objectives makes the title feel freeing. The game builds upon what worked in Neon Chrome, but infuses it with more replayability despite visually looking the same. JYDGE shows that 10Tons knows its way around isometric shooters. For a modern take on the concept with objective-based gameplay, you can’t do much better then JYDGE.