Trigger finger detective Jack Kelly responds to a breaking and entering call at the senator’s mansion. A shootout takes place, resulting with the death of one of the criminals, the senators diamonds gone and Kelly being framed for the whole thing, for some reason. Because of that he gets demoted to a Beat Cop, an every day ticket serving police officer. On the streets of Brooklyn he will have to find who framed him, where are the diamonds and what is that missing item that was taken from the mansion, while reaching his every day mundane quota.
Beat Cop is a time management, story driven game developed by Pixel Crow, in the vein of Tickets Please. The game takes place on one of the streets of Brooklyn where Kelly will have to patrol every day. At the beginning of the day, you will be at the briefing room where the boss will give specific quotas that need to be met and chat with the other officers. After that the actual gameplay begins.
Your quotas have mainly to do with serving tickets for illegal parking, at least in the first few days, until you get the hang of it. Then more things are added, like tickets for broken lights or worn out tires. Sometimes you will have to do other stuff, like showing a Russian cop around (Red Heat anyone?), making sure the streets are clear for the visit of the King of Zamunda etc. That’s only the quotas though and it will be a bit more complicated to complete them for the following reasons.
As I mentioned before, Kelly is framed for a crime he didn’t do. That made his old friends in the force and even his family to turn on him. He will have to clear his name in spite of all of that and in spite his every day job obligations. Add to that that the street he patrols is filled with stores, people and criminal organizations like the Mafia, and you’ll have something to occupy you for the duration of the day.
At the end of the day things need to have been done because if not, your paycheck will be cut in half, which is a bad thing because you have to pay alimony to your ex wife. Also you want to keep your boss happy because he can make your life difficult. But you can’t be good all the time, there is a bar that counts how the organizations of the area feel about you, so sometimes you might have to turn a blind eye to their activities and who knows, maybe they can help you in your search.
Of course Beat Cop doesn’t only mean good cop. If you like you can go rogue, take bribes from citizens instead of writing them a ticket, giving info to the organizations, whistle them when something is going down, you can deal drugs and do other illegal activities. Sometimes that may be the only way to gather money for the alimony, so try to keep an open mind on the activities around you.
The developers of Beat Cop took inspiration from cop tv shows of the ‘70s and ‘80s and you can feel that throughout the game. If you remember though, these shows had themes that might be a bit heavy for today’s standards. The street you patrol is filled with a kaleidoscope of different races, occupations and backgrounds. You will have to interact with prostitutes, drug dealers, sex shop owners, mafia bosses and more. Every one of them speaks their mind freely, with language and terms that might be considered offensive to some. Personally I believe that Pixel Crow did a very good job using this as artistically as possible, to add another dimension into the immersion of the game. It has been done in a way that lets you see how life was before, how it still is in some parts of the world and makes you think, which is really important in a game.
As far as visuals go, Beat Cop has detailed pixel art style, with animations as expressive as can be and with detail to the world that make it feel more alive. The synthwave music that is being used in the main menu and at the briefing is great, adds to the whole experience and the theme of the game. During the gameplay though there’s no music, other than what is being played sporadically from the citizens on their boomboxes or through the windows. I understand the reason for that, it is supposed to give another dimension to the reality and grittiness of the street. Unforunately, sometimes the tasks are pretty mundane and the absense of music feels like things are moving slowly. I used my own synthwave playlist during play and it really helped.
Beat Cop plays fine even though I encountered some graphical bugs, albeit rarely, that fortunately did not affect gameplay. Also, sometimes there are days that not much is happening or some tasks are a bit repetitive and created pockets of time that the experience was mundane. I pushed through though because the story of the game is really gripping and enjoyable, plus the characters are really interesting.
I was interested in the game since the moment I found out about it, and it didn’t disappoint. I am not a big fan of Papers Please but Beat Cop uses similar mechanics in a setting and visual style that I adore, with music that I love and more importantly with a storyline that kept me coming in the game to see what will happen next. Another positive thing is that each day doesn’t last long and if you don’t have much free time in your hands, like me, you can play it in small bursts.
You can buy Beat Cop on Steam for the price of 14,99€.
With solid gameplay, gorgeous pixel art, great synthwave music and an interesting storyline, Beat Cop is a time management game that will definitely appeal to fans of this genre. The inspiration of cop shows of the ‘70s and ‘80s shows throughout and makes for a vivid world. The language of the game and some situations might be offensive to some, so watch out for that. The few and far between graphical bugs don’t take away from the experience so, if the setting and the genre of the game interest you, definitely check it.
+Engaging story and setting
+Great synthwave music…
–…that unfortunately plays only on menus and in briefing
–Some minor visual bugs
–Some in game days have mundane tasks
~Score : 8,3/10
Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas