Thursday, March 7

Review: Beat Cop [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While they may not be for everyone there’s something I often find relaxing and enjoyable with games that are ultimately about time management and working through a routine. Whether in the form of Nintendo’s own signature Animal Crossing or the indie sensation Stardew Valley, the loop of repetition in completing a set of tasks every in-game day and then enjoying the story beats that slowly work themselves out as you go is satisfying. While certainly in no way anywhere near as wholesome as either of the aforementioned titles, replacing cheeriness with cynicism and friendships with uneasy alliances, Beat Cop has some of those same qualities and I found it to be quite enjoyable.

You play the game as a disgraced detective who, after an incident involving a senator’s house being robbed and the perp getting away, is busted back down to walking the street as a regular uniformed officer. When the rotund, and a bit sketchy, fellow officer showing you your new beat is gunned down in a driveby shooting you’re given a taste of the somewhat volatile situation you’re walking into. Will you be able to keep your Captain happy, stay out of the cross-hairs of both the mafia and the gangs, and manage to work out the conspiracy that put you in this position without selling your soul to corruption? The temptation to look the other way for a quick $20 or to assist one of the factions in maintaining their criminal interests is real, both because you have some financial needs to meet and because they may be of assistance to you as you deal with the conspiracy involving your own situation. Where you decide to balance things morally is up to you.

Each new day you’ll be given a set of base tasks to complete, whether that’s ticketing cars for various violations, walking your full patrol beat within certain timeframes, or any number of more targeted objectives. On top of that random incidents will pop up, like trying to apprehend a shoplifter, getting a car towed that’s blocking a hydrant while a fire rages, or what can amount to unusual errands at times. In addition, both the mafia and the gangs will keep in touch and make demands of you, and depending on how you want to play things you’ll want to carefully consider how you’re handling them, either favoring a side or trying to maintain some sort of balance in the name of self-preservation. While you can certainly try, there’s generally only so much you can juggle without dropping anything so you’ll need to prioritize your concerns and potentially pay for the consequences. At the end of each day your progress, achievements, and failures will be reviewed, and the effect of your actions on your reputation with all interested parties summarized.

For people seeking out something more action-oriented Beat Cop won’t likely be appealing, it’s mostly a game focused on methodical routines, optimizing your time, and watching the story unfold day by day. There’s ample humor to enjoy along the way, but things will switch up to dark and serious at times as well, you’ll just need to roll with the punches. Keeping in mind that the game is intended to have an 80s-esque crime series vibe some of the attitudes and language used can be a bit eyebrow-raising, but in general it doesn’t feel too gratuitous, just be ready for some extremes when it comes to racial insults and inappropriate humor being thrown around.

All in all while it got off to a bit of a slow start, once I eased into my daily routine I found the game to be pretty fascinating, and certainly not quite like anything I’ve played. Initially going for the clean-nosed, no-nonsense style of policework I’ll admit it didn’t take too long before dabbling in some bribes or looking the other way when the situation seemed to warrant it began trickling in. Even when caught taking a bribe one time the penalty wasn’t terribly severe compared to the potential for benefits so in general I tended towards moderation but the game would seem perfectly comfortable with you going full Bad Lieutenant as well. Ultimately I found myself more wrapped up in the minutia of my daily routine and decisions than the ultimate narrative but if you’re looking for something very different Beat Cop delivers quite nicely.

Score: 8

  • A time management game complete with 80s-style cop drama corruption
  • Gives you quite a lot of freedom in your approach if you’re willing to bear the consequences
  • Full of strange characters and unexpected situations

  • This isn’t a game about action so much as routine and making quick decisions about your priorities and morals
  • If you’re easily offended by coarse language, inappropriate humor, or ethnic and racial slurs (though in context not very surprising) this may not be a game for you
  • Though the main story is given to you in drips throughout to keep you engaged its ultimate resolution isn’t quite as interesting as I’d hoped