Platforms: Android, Linux, Mac OSX, PS4, Xbox One, Windows, iOS, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: Pixel Crow
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Genre: Time Management/Adventure
It’s 1986 and you’re a pixelated detective on the NYPD force who has been framed for stealing from a senator and have been demoted to a beat cop patrolling the pixelated streets while trying to control the Mafia and street gangs on your beat. Oh yeah…and you’ll need to write a lot of tickets…and I mean A LOT!
“Beat Cop” is a light adventure game that is heavy on time management. You’re tasked with proving your innocence within 21 days while maintaining peace and sanity on the streets you patrol. Each day begins at the precinct aptly numbered 69, where you are given your tasks for the day. Mostly those tasks involve writing parking tickets and citations for broken lights or bad tires but you usually have a task that will progress the story some. You’ll get alerts on your radio while on patrol of things like shoplifters, graffiti taggers, radio thieves and other random occurrences. Time moves extremely fast in the game, like five minutes per second or so and the game does warn you that you can’t get everything done each day all of the time so expect to fail some tasks.
At first, it was difficult to keep up with the hypertime clock while trying to figure out the nuances of the game but after a few days in-game, I was able to keep up pace. I was having fun exploring my beat and interacting with the citizens scattered about as I was wondering about but I had to nix my feelings of exploration and interactivity for menial tasks such as checking tires and parking meters.
I learned early on to finish the parking tasks as fast as possible in order to be available for the other tasks that pop up. There were quite a few tasks that were glitched out especially if you were already in an area where an event was to occur. I would get radioed for a car thief at a certain location but because I was already there nothing would happen and I would fail the event or get docked pay at the end of the day because I didn’t complete the task. There were also times that, due to other random events as well as pop up speech bubbles from citizens walking close by, I would completely miss a major story point or important conversation. Add that to the fact that by the end of the game, a major story point never even triggered for me, causing me to get a quick game over death at the conclusion of my 21 days.
While glitchy at times and somewhat monotonous and repetitive (12 tickets a day and half of them are for checking lights…ugh) I did enjoy the retro feel of the pixelated graphics and the tongue-in-cheek dialogue. Although the game took the route of being overly offensive and sexist at times for no reason such as the black street gang called the Crew being labeled as “darkies” or the constant sexual harassment of a fellow female officer every morning at the precinct, most of the time the game leaned on dark humor and 80s schlock to make you cringe and chuckle.
“Beat Cop” was fun at first and the dialogue and random events were always unpredictable and usually entertaining but the basic gameplay elements left my experience lacking. I would have preferred a way to slow down the speed of time in-game or to have a more clear notification of story points other than a notepad full of ten activities at once. At times, the game forget to inform you how to perform game mechanics such as shooting a gun or what to check for with tire and light checks and there were quite a few times I had to repeat a day over a few times in order to pass a certain event. The game does give you the option to rewind time and redo past days but I never had to go that far back. There was also a screen saver mode called Beat Cat that would randomly pop up annoyingly after about two seconds of inactivity with no way to turn it off to my knowledge.
By the end of my 21 days, I was pretty sick of writing tickets and towing cars. I believe there was only one day in game in which you didn’t have to write any tickets. Less ticket writing and more of the random events like helping a retired porn star make a porno in a garage or getting donuts for a senile old lady would have made the game ten times more enjoyable. The atmosphere, graphics and bit tune music add to the nostalgia of the game but repetitive gameplay mechanics and gamebreaking glitches take away from the replay value of the game. In my first ending, a major story point never occurred and in another playthrough I took favor with the mafia and was killed by the street gang before the ending. I guess I should have written more tickets of something.