I am the worst police chief in the history of videogames.
On my first day in the job I got a young police officer killed when I sent him to calm down a mentally ill naked man who was plaguing the shopping mall. Day two saw me send my SWAT team out with the best officer in my ranks only to find that the call was a false alarm. In the meantime, a civilian was murdered during a fight.
This is the Police is all about juggling the minute details of running a police department, but much of it comes down to chance. I was devastated when I sent a team of three officers to a suspicious package and my decision making caused an explosion that took out the entire squad.
It doesn’t really matter that I’d just sent one of them to the police academy and they’d passed with flying colours, because it came down to my choice in a seemingly throw away dialogue box. The bag was moving, I thought it was a false alarm. BOOM. Now I’ve got three funerals to attend!
THQ Nordic’s game is all about violence, crime and intrigue, but doesn’t ask the player to literally fight crime with an action star avatar. Everything is controlled via menu systems or story branching options. In fact, the player takes control of a police chief nearing retirement – someone who sits behind a desk and must deal with the mayor, the bureaucracy and mafia bosses. The basic premise is that the aforementioned chief is retiring in 180 days and wants to make half a million dollars before he leaves the force. And it’s entirely up to you how you make that scratch.
I started out wanting to be the best chief around; someone who catches bad guys, and stays away from organised crime. Then the officers started dying. The town hall began slashing my budget and kick backs from the Sands family mafia syndicate seemed very appealing. I stopped declaring my officers as dead and pocketed their salary. Anytime drugs or weapons were seized in a raid, I chose to fence them through my mob connections, rather than add them to the evidence locker.
I wasn’t all bad, though. I still supplied officers to the local doughnut shop when they were short staffed and I looked after my best staff by promoting them, which would increase their competence at fighting crime or they would ask for fewer days off. Yes, there were instances where an officer would insist on taking days off for ridiculous reasons and would be generally awful at his job. In that instance I’d ask my “friends” to take them out and free up space on my roster.
Thankfully This is the Police isn’t just about choosing options to send staff across the city. You have plenty of chances to solve crimes yourself by piecing together witness statements and crime scene photos. Doing so increases popular opinion of your department and means that the mayor may look favourably on you and increase your pay or improve your SWAT team.
All of these mechanics plod alongside a wonderfully put together storyline that does feature generic stereotypes, but also some intriguing plot elements and twists. The voice acting isn’t much to write home about, but the art style makes up for it with a minimalist design that apes comic book panelling.
Playing on Switch means that it looks luscious on the TV with your choice of vinyl record playing in the game’s background but it’s equally lovely in handheld mode and suits the game’s concept wonderfully.
This is the Police is incredibly deep; allowing for control of the smallest elements. But, many of the outcomes can come down to random or hidden stats. This can be a little frustrating, but it does give the game a rogue-lite edge. There’s no tracking back if your best officer dies in the line of duty.
It’s very unforgiving, but then maybe policing just isn’t my ideal career path. They say that crime doesn’t pay, but to be honest, it really depends on where the money is coming from in this fun, but tricky police sim.
+ Gorgeous Visuals
+ Intriguing Concept
+ Genuinely funny
+ Interesting writing
– Voice acting a bit iffy in places
– Odd difficulty spikes
This is the Police
7 out of 10
Tested on Switch