Those of you that are a bit advanced in your age may know those old hard-boiled detectives or cops in older crime shows where the protagonist has to take care of cases by the lawbook but in the end uses his own methods to find the culprit. People in my age group may know Brooklyn 99, which is a rather comedic take on the genre of cop-shows, or Lucifer which is going into that direction as well. In older shows, there’s usually some overarching scheme or plan that the antagonist has come up with and the protagonist usually gets clues on that antagonist while working on other cases that have to do with it.
In today’s review, we’re taking a look at Beat Cop, a game in which we’re an ex-detective who is being framed for crimes he hasn’t committed. On his last case, he got into a Senator’s house, only to find a burglar of sorts who has already been taken care of and an empty safe. He’s accused of having stolen the diamonds that were in the aforementioned safe and hence gets demoted to a Beat Cop, having to patrol the streets – or rather one street – in Brooklyn, write up tickets, catch thiefs, and prove his innocence.
Developer: Pixel Crow
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Genres: Indie, Retro, Adventure
Release Date: March 30, 2017
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased
Let’s get down to business.
Your first steps revolve around writing up tickets. You check a car’s tires, lights and the parking-meter and then get it towed after leaving your ticket at the front window. You then patrol the street, talk to different people and shop owners and take care of their needs, while fulfilling your quota on certain tasks. The game’s played with your mouse only, resulting in a point-and-click-like feeling. The ticket-writing-process kind of reminded me of Papers Please, which I found rather nice. At first, this gameplay may seem rather boring, especially as you’re usually left with no music at all, but when you’re getting busy and you’re running out of time to fulfil your quota, shit goes down.
To make it harder for you, the game gives you different tasks every day. Sometimes you’re left with a guest of sorts, sometimes you’ve got to run errands for different people and some other times you need to tow every car in the street as a VIP of sorts is coming around soon. Every day plays differently!
While you’ve got your daily tasks, the game also throws certain distractions at you!
While you are peacefully writing those tickets, you get an alarm via radio that a thief has been reported on your turf, resulting in you having to chase the thief down! In some cases, you’ve also got to help a kidnapping-victim in dire time, stop a man from lighting himself up or removing cult-propaganda in the neighbourhood.
There’re also two gangs in the area that you may want to help now and then. On the west of your street, there’s The Mafia, run by Italians, while on the east-end there’s The Crew, run by Black people. If you help one side, you end up improving your standing with them while also worsening your standing with the other. The Mafia is running a pizzeria and take care of certain people, while The Crew is mixing things up with drugs, weapons and other crimes.
Not only does the game change things up with different events happening on each day but it also pressures you to take care of the “main quest” in finding out the truth of who’s framing you for their crimes by sending you warnings. Your former partner gets murdered right in front of you, your boss hates you and tells you that you’ll be suspended after 21 days if you don’t return the diamonds, that you don’t have, there’s also the fact that you’ve got to collect money from paychecks and bribes to pay your ex-wife’s alimony.
Overall, you’ve got timers ticking down in the background, pressing you for time, like the doom clock-timer in Majora’s Mask. To find clues, you’ve got to improve your standing with the gangs eventually. To pay the alimony, you’ve got to accept some bribes here and there or turn a blind eye when some radios get stolen. While I was rather rightful in the beginning, my playthrough became rather corrupt eventually as well.
In dialogues, you’ve often got different options to deal with the conversation, resulting in you being a people’s man (and letting tickets go, for instance) or being a douche (by just doing your job). In my playthrough, this didn’t feel that well executed. You shouldn’t become a douche when you’re doing your job and you shouldn’t be a hero when you’re just corrupt. Also, it didn’t really feel like the game’s punishing you hard enough when you accept bribes. You lose a bit of standing with the Police and earn a bit of standing with the people of your neighbourhood, but usually, the police-standing gets evened out by fulfilling your quota.
The presentation is good, I guess, but also a bit lacking in some regards.
While the art-style is rather detailed for a pixel-art style, it’s not too special when compared to other games that came out in 2017, like Dead Cells. The music is great!… when you hear it. Usually, you’re left with the sounds you encounter in the street which is rather boring and doesn’t add much to the game. I found it quite disappointing. It’s got slice-of-life vibes here and there with the ordinary tasks of being a beat cop and with the lack of music, I guess, but I doubt that that’s intentional. Here and there you hear music when there’s a boombox nearby but the mixing feels kind of off as well, as it gets really loud when you’re right next to it but is already silent when you’re only a few steps away.
The humour, however, is rather great… for the most part!
The game tries itself at some darker humour by not only involving subtle jokes like that one German guy at the drug shop wanting to help out anyone apart from the Jewish guy, which took me a few seconds to realise. There’re also other darker jokes here and there that are rather direct and could be applied to today’s day and age – e.g. a black kid being surprised at you helping her instead of shooting her on sight. Oof.
But here comes a big problem with the game: I don’t know where the line is between black humour and racism.
The devs call this game “an homage to old cop shows that they used to watch as kids” but at the same time, there’s a ton of racism going on in it with slurs being spurted out in nearly every conversation. There’s also the fact that the one female coworker at your police department is getting sexually harassed daily while some other “bigger” coworker is being openly bullied by everyone else. Black people are referred to as “darkies”, Italians as several pasta-references, the Chinese are called “yellowies”, gay people are being called the f-slur, women get called the c-slur, and the list goes on.
I don’t get it where they are drawing the line. Calling black people “darkies” or whatever is as bad as calling them the n-word in my opinion. The devs don’t want to overstep that line, so they try to pull back and tone this part of the game down… and yet, they don’t pull back when it comes to gay people or women? Calling all women the c-slur and all gay people the f-slur seems to be no problem to the devs. They are being openly sexist and racist. I guess you could argue that it’s “just an art form of sorts” but I personally don’t believe that provocation for the sake of provoking is any good. If people were to say “Heil Hitler” on the streets over here in Germany, they wouldn’t get away with saying “it was just a joke” or “it’s just an homage to old times”. They’d get fined.
I feel like the constant use of the c-slur and the f-slur as well as the constant harassment that some of the people are undergoing are creating an atmosphere where it’s alright to discriminate against women and against gay people “because they’re different from us”. Meanwhile the name-calling is just horrible in regards to the people of colour, featured in the game… and I know that it’s just a game but I don’t think that it’s alright to draw the line when it comes to racism but not draw the line when it comes to sexism, homophobia and other things. It’s just horrible.
My solution for this would have been to have an option where it censors all slurs with stars or where it doesn’t call people of colour “spaghetti” or “yellowies” or “brownies”. If you activate that “sfw-mode” or “clean mode”, you end up with a version of the game where you can enjoy the actual gameplay and the actual plot of the game (good parts, actually). If you don’t have that activated, you get a bad game where people are getting called slurs – for the sake of… edginess?
I mean, really… the game is just being edgy with this. There is no “black humour” in this case. Calling a women the c-slur and constantly making it seem as if harassing women at your workplace is alright, is not black humour: It’s a dickmove. It tells a lot about you.
Calling gay people the f-slur and just making fun of them for the sake of laughing about it, is just edgy. It’s not “an homage”, it’s just homophobic. And looking back at the fact sheet… this game is from 2017 and yet the game devs seem to be just edgelords that are trying to say that discrimination is alright when it’s in a game or when it’s set in the 60s…
Provoking for the sake of provocation is not cool. The slurs and the insults are not adding any value to the game. It doesn’t become more “like in the 60s” by adding a couple of “c***s” and “fa**ots” into the speech while censoring yourself when it comes to the n-word. It’s just being edgy and running away when it goes too far, tail between the legs. I just feel like I’ve talked too much about this already. This part of the game sucks. Inherently it’s a good game but the devs just tried too hard to be edgy and ruined a lot of the fun experience for me.
Overall, I did enjoyed playing this game. It was fun. It took its time for the plot to pick up the pace but eventually, I was rather excited about it. I also managed to double or even quadruple my quota while at the same time collecting bribes, running errands and doing missions. The time-management aspects in this game are rather interesting and there hardly have been any times where I had to restart a day and try again. I also haven’t encountered any bugs yet and am quite hyped about unlocking those other endings there.
However, I cannot recommend this game to anyone who’s easily offended by certain slurs and discrimination overall. While I did have fun with the original game formula… I didn’t enjoy these sexist and homophobic aspects of the game’s characters… at all. They don’t add value to the game. They make it worse actually.
So, final verdict:
While I did enjoy the game, I cannot recommend it to everyone. It can be really offensive and inappropriate. If you don’t care about that, go for it. Good game. If you care about discrimination and stuff, don’t necessarily buy this game. It has got some issues.
Anyways, have a nice day and be careful where you park your car! We don’t like those tickets!