JYDGE, by 10tons Ltd., is a follow-up (and simultaneously a prequel) to Neon Chrome. Another top-down twin-stick shooter, 10tons took what they learned from making Neon Chrome, in combination with player feedback, to craft a game of a different color.
The titular JYDGE, pronounced “Judge,” is a cyborg warrior that goes on patrol like a beat cop, becoming judge, jury, and executioner in the dystopian future of JYDGE and Neon Chrome’s shared universe. Taking inspiration from both Judge Dredd and Robocop, JYDGE has players taking on gang members and robotic death machines in their journey to bring order back to the streets of Edenbyrg.
Instead of being a rogue-like with randomly generated levels, like Neon Chrome, in JYDGE players lose nothing when they die, and the game features carefully crafted, bite-sized, replayable levels, each having three objectives for players to complete.
Completing those objectives grants players medals used to unlock new levels, and money used to unlock new passive abilities as well as new firing modes for their Gavel, the multi-purpose assault weapon the Jydge uses when dispensing jystice. Sorry, but that’s a real thing in this game. Much like Mortal Kombat’s abuse of the letter “C,” expect a lot of “U’s” traded out in favor of “Y’s.”
Although only one of the objectives is required in order to complete the mission, players that want to finish the campaign should get used to completing as many as they possibly can, for reasons I’ll get into soon.
JYDGE combines the mechanics, art style, and even assets of Neon Chrome and remixes them to create something new. 10tons refers to JYDGE as a “roguehate,” and they seem to have gone out of their way to make this game more approachable than Neon Chrome. In that respect, I consider JYDGE to be a wild success.
Neon Chrome was a tight, twin-stick shooter, and JYDGE adds expansive player and weapon customization to create a much more enjoyable experience. Players will unlock new firing modes on the Gavel as they proceed, which can be switched out at will.
Expect the usual fare like fast-spraying machine gun fire, sniper rounds, and shotguns, and more unusual firing modes like giant plasma balls and arcing electricity.
Passive abilities come in two flavors; Gavel and Jydge. Gavel passives (called Mods) are weapon modifiers, some run-of-the-mill like “reload 3X faster” and “fire 20% faster,” some are more interesting like “Your shots won’t hurt citizens” and “your melee hits may charm enemies.”
Jydge passives (called Cyberware) come in all kinds. Some reduce damage taken and increase health, while others make the player invisible while standing still or even change the games perspective.
The real fun comes from finding potent combinations of Jydge and Gavel passives that feed off of each other to grant major buffs, but I’ll leave those for you to find for yourself.
Unfortunately, JYDGE still has its share of issues. Gone is the annoyance of failing in largely empty, randomized levels, as one might in Neon Chrome. Players will not have to replay 5 levels if they die on a boss, either.
Unfortunately, JYDGE simply replaced Neon Chrome’s frustrations with the tedium of having to replay levels and complete additional objectives to gain enough medals to proceed in the campaign. At almost every Act Break, I found it necessary to retread old levels at higher difficulty levels, completing more objectives just to unlock the next story mission.
Add to this the fact that players have to finish a level at least once to unlock the second set of objectives, and the fact that some objectives are best attempted one at a time, means that players may find themselves playing the same level four or five times in order to proceed.
As players progress through the game, third and fourth difficulty levels will be unlocked, each adding three more objectives for players to complete, and three more medals for them to collect for doing so.
If players want to repeat the same level a number of times for sheer enjoyment, there is nothing wrong with that. Trying to complete stealth or speed-run objectives did force me to find new ways to play, which ended up paying dividends as I proceeded through the game. Forcing players to do so, and to this extent, feels like a misstep.
Also, while levels are well thought out, bland textures and some grating music tracks detract from what is otherwise a big improvement over its predecessor. Unfortunately Jydge also occasionally suffers from the same frame-stuttering issues that Neon Chrome does while in docked mode.
The gameplay loop is fun enough, but additional requirements 10tons puts on players took away from what would have been an incredibly satisfying game. It’s clear that 10tons is onto something here, and if they can keep chipping away at the parts that don’t work, I believe they have the potential to make something truly great.
Overall, while the story is a bit thin, the combat is solid, and while there is genuine tension in some of the more difficult levels, the aggravation of losing progress by dying that one would experience in Neon Chrome has been removed.
Because of this, the game and player both have a chance to breathe, and the experience is much stronger for it. There aren’t many twin-stick shooters on Switch, and although I haven’t played Time Recoil yet, this is 10tons best entry in the genre so far, and at $15, it’s a pretty good deal.