Inside every gamer is a fashionista waiting for their chance to shine. No? Well, a little Fashion Police Squad might change that. A collaboration between No More Robots and Mopeful Games, a small team of three developers, this unique twist on a first-person shooter is a borderline gimmick game with some real potential.
Story – Short but Sweet
Fashion Police Squad tells its story through dialogue pop-ups overlaid with grunts and some voiced lines as you patrol the streets of Trendopolis. You control Officer Des, a slightly dim but charming fashion cop tasked with taking down initially low-level fashion crimes. What are these fashion crimes, you ask? You’ve got lawyers in dull suits, Karens in ill-fitting dresses, and suspiciously Phoenix Wright-looking lawyers in a baggy suits, to name a few.
As you fight fashion crimes, you’ll come across swaths of dull gray in the environment that need putting straight. Your job, through dialogue riddled with references (Final Fantasy, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Metal Gear Solid) and puns (so, so many puns) is to work out who in the world is trying to rid the city of vibrancy, color, and fun.
There’s not much else to say about the narrative without giving away some serious spoilers. It’s light, but interesting enough to carry you through this short game, and there is no filler. The story is honestly just a platform to elevate the theme, and that’s perfectly fine for the game that it is. Fashion Police Squad should not be taken seriously, and it knows it! That’s where the true comedy lies, and is something I found refreshing and entertaining throughout.
Gameplay – Wacky Weaponry
Gameplay is around 80% combat, with maybe 10% cutscenes and 10% levelling. As Officer Des, you control multiple weapons tailored to different fashion crimes, and switch between them to face off against different enemies. The game gives you a straightforward area to explore, with different parts triggering different dialogue, which progresses the story and guides you towards different key locations.
The pacing in Fashion Police Squad is a little frustrating. Because each weapon is tailored to a specific fashion crime, the game reaches a critical difficulty when multiple enemies requiring different weapons all appear in the same area. Having to constantly open different menus to switch weapons in these areas slows down the combat significantly. Each enemy appears to do the same or a similar amount of damage, too, so it can be difficult to prioritize.
There were also several instances of controls failing to work when they should have, though these are more minor bugs to be expected at the release of a new indie game. The devs are consistently working to update these bugs, but it would be nice to have a more polished game to start out with.
I don’t want to exclude the possibility that Fashion Police Squad runs more smoothly with a controller, or that the issue may be with my level of skill. But, I do feel that a PC game always should offer fully-developed PC controls for players that don’t have controllers to pair. In particular, the belt-swinging mechanic was hard to work with and very clunky, and changing the difficulty didn’t reduce the challenge in these instances.
With all the negativity out of the way, however, there are some gameplay areas that Fashion Police Squad excels in. The level design is very well done, and the fast movement speed feels natural to the games style. There are also a few genius little mechanics hidden around; like how the water gun can also be used on the ground to make the movement speed even faster. And while the weapon switching can be frustrating, the weapons themselves are intuitive and easy to use. Plus, they feel great to shoot with!
Graphics and Audio – A Chiptune Dream
The soundtrack for Fashion Police Squad is outstanding. You’ll definitely want to keep your volume up while you play. This original soundtrack by Geem Audioworks is some of the most entertaining video game music I’ve heard in quite a while! The introduction features a super fresh theme song that calms down just a little to a jazzy chiptune as you speed through the levels.
The funky melodies tie in with the game’s themes perfectly, in a way that reminded me in some ways of Splatoon. It’s not thematically similar, but it pairs with Fashion Police Squad similarly.
Even if you don’t play the game, I think it’s worth buying the soundtrack. Take a listen to some of the best!
Fashion Police Squad is a mix of old and new, and is a very stylish game in itself. The environment is 3D but has an undeniable retro influence, including the pixelated appearance of buildings and other obstacles. Des’ weapons and the sprites of the enemies themselves are fully 2D, but certainly inject a lot of energy into the gameplay.
The graphics, the UI, pretty much everything has been carefully designed to give it an old-school feel. Small details like the protagonist’s face looking left and right at the bottom of the screen in a direct reference to DOOM really elevate the experience. The pixel sprites themselves clearly depict each enemy’s distinct fashion crime, with a fresh ‘after’ sprite to signify they’ve been defeated.
This game was reviewed on PC with key provided by No More Robots.