JYDGE draws its influences unabashedly from the popular 70’s and 80’s dystopic sci-fi comic series Judge Dredd, which you probably remember best for the cheesy but mildly entertaining Sly Stallone movie it was adapted into. JYDGE is an android that's basically a mix of RoboCop and Judge Dredd. His initiatives? Bring the law to the streets of Edenbyrg - oh, by the way, expect the use of the letter 'Y' in all sorts of weird places. A simple twin-stick shooter in practice, with some tiny levels to wipe out baddies or save hostages in, this isn't exactly a long epic quest, but it's great for a quick break or two. It's the typical… err, toilet-friendly title - you play it for 10 minutes of so and then continue with your day.
10tons has crafted a deeply similar twin stick shooter experience from the same core components as Neon Chrome. However, subtle differences to the structure and tone may make it worthy of consideration if you're a fan of the original. Though it's set in the same cynical dystopian future universe, Jydge takes the action outside of the original's monolithic tower and adopts a decidedly black sense of humor.
Missions play out from a slightly tilted, top-down viewpoint centered on your eponymous Jydge. You probably know the rest. Left stick moves, right stick aims. Your primary weapon is on the right trigger, secondary on the left, and you interact with objects in the environment using X. Infiltrate, turn faces to hamburgers, exfiltrate. Rinse, repeat.
Like in Neon Chrome, there are a whole bunch of ways to customize your Jydge. There's a series of tech plug-ins that enhance your core abilities, as well as those of your gun, the Gavel. Before long you'll have drone companions, a cloaking device, bouncing laser beams, the ability to suck health from criminals with every bullet landed, and loads of other options at your disposal. Again, this tends to simply lead to various flavors of chaos, but it's always satisfying to experiment with a new weapon type or mod. Key to your progress through Jydge is a medal system, with up to three awarded to you depending on how you tackle each stage. On one level, there might be a medal for going through the whole level unseen or unscathed. You might get a medal for killing all the enemies or opening all the loot boxes, or getting back to your car in super-quick time.
Stars will slowly unlock mods in your skill trees that you’ll then be able to purchase and equip as a loadout for each mission. Mods have a wide range of uses. Cyberware, for example, enhances your Jydge’s general performance, while fire modes turn your “gavel” (okay, that’s pretty clever) into everything from a shotgun to a long-range laser blaster. Some mods even allow for special weapons like powerful rockets, or change the properties of your ammunition to grant benefits such as a healing effect on kills or plasma bolts on a reload. The mod tree is extensive and the combinations seem virtually limitless, but it’s all there to help you adapt to and address the specific challenges you’ll encounter. This is where the meat of JYDGE’s gameplay loop can be found, and it signifies both its greatest strength and its most infuriating weakness.
JYDGE’s missions are short. Bite-sized, really. I’d say none of them should take you more than 5 minutes to complete. The story is spread out into four acts of four missions each, giving you a total of sixteen missions for a playtime that shouldn’t exceed more than a couple hours if you blaze straight through it. The problem is, you can’t. JYDGE’s mission unlocks are tied to the same challenge stars the mod tree relies on. Initially, there are three challenges per mission, but once you clear Act I a hardcore difficulty opens up that adds three additional challenges and remixes each mission to make it a bit more challenging. At this point, the number of stars you need to unlock each new mission increases exponentially, and you can probably work out the loop on your own from there. Your only option is to go back through the previous missions over and over while messing around with your loadout to more effectively deal with the challenges presented.
As a shooter Jydge is a fun, frantic and challenging take on the twin-stick shooter, yet strengthening your own Judge Dredd/RoboCop hybrid by doing side-quests and unlocking additional toys to play with can be quite the addicting experience for the few hours that this will last. All in All This is worth the buy and gets the Kasanova seal of Approval.