The 2010s brought about a cultural revival of the 1980s. Shows like Stranger Things brought about a lot of hype and nostalgia for the decade, even for people like myself who weren’t even born yet. It’s fair to say that it was romanticised a lot, but it’s hard to deny that the music was awesome, and continues to inspire artists across all genres to this day.
Then there’s Beat Cop, which is a love letter and homage to 80s cop shows such as Miami Vice. You play as Jack Kelly, a detective demoted down to a beat cop (hence the name) due to some shenanigans involving a Senator, stolen diamonds, and murder. Can you clear your name, be a valuable asset to the community, and most importantly, pay your ever-increasing alimony?
The art style is very nice and easy to look at. It’s reminiscent of some older titles such as Hotline Miami and looks oddly similar to The Darkside Detective which came out in the same year. Nonetheless, the sleaze and corruption of 1980s New York is on full display.
Jack Kelly is quite a likeable character, who gets the occasional witty line in every so often. His relationship with his colleagues seems rather callous, and his superior officer flips from hating him to praising him in the space of a text box. It’s pretty easy to feel sympathy for the guy, and it’s hard to say the excess misfortune doesn’t conjure nostalgic memories of the old police shows my grandmother had on VHS.
The dialogue is quite well written. The way Kelly interacts with gangsters, the public, his colleagues, and a bunch of others can be entertaining. However, it becomes a little bit of a chore to skip past the same conversations when you’re pulling someone up on their parking violation.
The story isn’t anything to write home about. Granted it’s made clear from the get-go that this isn’t meant to be high art, the pre-game screen says that the player should “just have fun” with this police procedural game. The bits of lore that drop every so often feel really sparse and minuscule compared to the amount of trees you kill by filling your ticket quota (I’m a god at writing tickets now). Games don’t have to have a story to be good, but when you compare it to This War of Mine, another 11 bit title, it pales glaringly.
The time management aspect can be really frustrating. I want to make it clear here that I do enjoy this game outright, but it’s awfully difficult to meet your ticket quota, stop suicide attempts, take bribes, catch thieves, meet your daughter for pizza, and collect enough money to make alimony payments that go up after each cycle. You get $50 at the end of your shift, and half of that gets deducted if you miss something. Sorry captain, I cannot keep an eye out for a stolen van if I’m stopping a guy setting himself on fire. You also need to eat to maintain stamina to chase criminals, and you can get punished for that if you take too much time.
The casual racist language, which was admittedly symptomatic of the time, can be off-putting for people. I personally wasn’t offended by anything in this game, but I can’t speak for everyone. The only solace is that it takes the South Park approach of punching in all directions instead of one, which means no one is safe.
The £11.49 price tag is VERY heavy for a game like this, I picked it up on sale so I didn’t spend a lot, but if this was my reward for emptying my wallet, this experience wouldn’t be as favourable.
Beat Cop is odd. I did enjoy playing it, despite the fact that it took me several attempts to pay the second alimony, it’s quite addictive all things considered. The story doesn’t do anything for my taste, and the racist language really does hamper what could be a fun experience. If it was aiming to simulate the humdrum monotonous existence of a NYPD beat cop in the 1980s, I would fully believe that it was like this. It feels closer to a mobile game in style than a standard one. Nonetheless, I’m probably going to play it some more.
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