If the movie Judge Dredd and the game Neon Chrome (also from the 10tons) had a baby they would make this game. Jydge is a isometric twin stick shooter that is very similar to Neon Chrome or Hotline Miami. Despite what might be a silly name (it’s pronounced “judge” by the way. I’ll explain in a bit), Jydge brings a surprising amount of depth to the table in this cyber punk shooter.
I’m just going to get this out of the way real quick, it seems like this game is a little over the top at first glance. I mean, come on, they are calling this game Jydge and the character even has what looks like an old judge wig on. To top it off your weapon is called a gavel and even looks similar to an actual gavel. It’s so on the nose I couldn’t help but scoff a bit when I first saw this game. But it turns out one should not be so quick to judge, uh, Jydge. There is actually a lot of depth here.
Jydge, Jyry, and Execytioner
You play as a Jydge in the city of Edenbyrg which is filled with violence and is taken over by robots. To top it off society has decided the letter U is the worst thing in the world hence the title of Jydge. Any other words with U such as byllet, shotgyn, etc. are affected as well. There isn’t a huge story here but it’s made up for with some satisfying gameplay.
Earn Your Medals
As I mentioned Jydge is a top down, twin stick shooter with some rogue-like elements and even a bit of rpg. There are not a ton of levels in this game, it won’t take too long to get through. But the levels have different difficulties that shake things up and that’s where the depth comes from. The game is more wide then long.
You earn medals from each level by completing missions within the levels. Each level contains three different missions of which there are a variety. Examples might be to destroy all enemies, loot all boxes, or to don’t get spotted. As you progress you can replay levels at a higher difficulty which has different missions which earns you more medals. You’ll have to earn almost all of the medals to progress further into the game.
Complete Your Missions
This structure makes for a fairly satisfying gameplay loop. While the actual layout of the level doesn’t change, enemy types and their positions do change with each difficulty. This keeps things fairly fresh even though you are basically replaying the same level a few times over.
Also, you don’t have to successfully compete all three missions at once. You can replay the levels as many times as you want. Once you achieve a medal from the mission they stay unlocked. Which is nice for levels that include missions that are in contrast from each other. You'll find that playing a level a few times is the only way to accomplish all the missions.
Some missions are more difficult than others too. At least until you figure out the trick to getting through them. Which, more often then not, involves changing your loadout. One thing worth mentioning is that trying to save all the hostages can get tricky. If one of them dies so do you. Basically, each mission type takes a different strategy. All of which is complimented by the upgrade system.
Upgrades and Loadouts
Your weapon of choice is called a gavel. It’s a gun that is extremely customizable. As you earn medals from the missions, you unlock mods both for your gavel and yourself. Mods come at a pretty steady pace too and they come in a wide variety. Some change the bullets your gun uses. One mod makes it so your bullets don’t hit hostages (thankfully saving them from yourself). Another mod will make you invisible if you stay in the shadows.
All these different mods and upgrades make for a very customizable experience. You can essentially come up with your own playstyle. And you can switch out at any. Once you have purchased the upgrade you can change it out any time between levels without any negative effects, leaving you open to customize your Jydge to your hearts content.
There are so many different combinations that you will never see all the possible loadouts. You really do have a lot of leeway in how you want to play. The only time this doesn't work is if there is a mission that needs a different playstyle to succeed. For example, a loadout that kills enemies quick and protects yourself from attack will not work for a mission that requires some more stealth. On one hand this kind of detracts from the "make your jydge how you want" concept but does encourage you to try different loadouts and playstyles.
Make Your Own Way
The environments in Jydge are very destructible. At first it’s tempting to use the hallway and doors provided but you’ll soon discover that you can just as easily make your own way. See a loot box in another room that you don’t have a key for? No worries, just blow the wall down or melee it until it crumbles at your feet. It makes the levels and your approach to them that much more dynamic.
Things can get chaotic when you're dodging bullets, trying to shoot enemies, and completing objectives all the while things are blowing up all around. It's all pretty fun though and two plays are most likely to be fairly different.
It All Looks Bloody Good
For being an isometric game Jydge looks pretty good and even gets a bit gory. Killing enemies results in a satisfying explosion. Even your character explodes when you die. As I mentioned you can tear down walls and blow up much of the environment as well.
Colors look really good and for the most part objects stand out from the background and each other so you can see what’s going on. All this has a cyber punk, futuristic paint job that fits the mood of the game. The menus look futuristic and clean and it looks like you’re using a computer. It all works for the futuristic, Judge Dredd vibe they have going.
Songs on Repeat
Sound effects are well done and there is actually a surprising amount of voice acting in this game. Some of it comes off a little stiff but that might relate to the fact that some of the characters are robots. There is more voice over then I expected though and it helps flesh out the world even if there isn’t a big story to go with it.
Music leaves something to be desired though. While the tracks are good and set the mood well enough, there isn’t much in the way of the amount of songs. It doesn’t take very long before you realize you have heard the same song several times and frankly it gets old pretty good. Quality is good but there just isn’t enough variety.
If you played Neon Chrome or other similar isometric twin stick shooters and enjoyed them I would recommend giving this one a go. At first glance it doesn’t seem like much but once you get into the meat of it you’ll realize that there is more then meets the eye. The game is short but has some depth. The customization options give ample opportunity to tweak and tune your Jydge the way you want it. And the levels change up enough to keep things fresh for the most part. I guess it’s like they say, “don’t jydge a book by it’s cover”. Okay, that’s enough of that.