At first glance, This is the Police appears to be nothing more than a glorified mobile game that moves slower than paint drying, but after a few hours, it will get its hooks into you. The addictive nature of this strategic balancing act will have you pulling your hair out as you stress over walking the thin blue line.
You play as Jack Boyd, a Police Chief being ousted from his job in 180 days. Your goal is to make money for retirement, but saving up your regular salary won’t get you far. It’s time for Boyd to join the dark side and run a corrupt police force. Help seedy characters. Sell drugs, weapons, jewellry—whatever it takes. Hide dead police officers in the morgue and steal their salaries. It’s our little secret.
Among all the corruption, you must balance your relationships with the Mayor, the Mafia and your staff. Upsetting any of these groups could lead to an early game over by way of death or prison.
The mechanics of This is the Police are rather simple. Dispatch officers to incoming calls. Calls can range from rapes and suicide threats to armed robberies—anything that a police department would normally handle. On top of the day-to-day operations, you’ll be asked to help the mafia, celebrities, the Mayor, and random citizens who seem to think the police have nothing better to do with their time. “What? The doughnut store employees didn’t show up for work? Of course, my officers can cover for them.” Yup, doughnut duty.
Occasionally you’ll be able to participate in ongoing investigations. You’ll assign detectives to cases and help them solve crimes by arranging a series of polaroids in the sequence in which the crime occurred. Polaroids are brought to you via the detectives and the sequence is determined by witness statements. There is no shaking of the polaroid pictures. As This is the Police progresses, crimes will become more difficult with more polaroids and eventually deal with a complex serial killer case.
The worst mechanic was the way the music functioned. You would have to actively push R3 and choose a record/tape/etc. to play. This by itself would have been fine, but the music would stop halfway through the day and I would have to go in and manually choose another song, sometimes 3-4 times a day. You don’t have to play music, but the silence can make the day feel slower. I suggest busting out Spotify.
A real complaint I have is that it took hours for me to become invested in what was happening—five hours to be exact. It’s possible if I had not been reviewing This is the Police, I would have never booted it up a second time. The stylised comic narrative scenes can be painfully boring, full of small talk and unnecessary exposition. I felt nothing for the characters—no empathy or sympathy, just a lust for making money. However as the game progressed, I did want to see Jack avoid death and jail and be successful in escaping with enough money to retire. Other than Jack however, little is done to emotionally invest players in the outcome of detectives, associates or civilians.
The stylised comic cutscenes lend themselves well to a modern pulp magazine. The gameplay graphics are similar to many of the police-centric mobile games out there. You’ll stare at a 3D model of Freeburg City while you dispatch your officers. This can make the game feel like it is dragging during times when nothing is happening. The only thing to watch is the blue and red lights as they speed to crimes and perhaps some weather hanging over the model. It can feel monotonous, which lends itself to creating an atmosphere for the first part of the game when it’s simpler, however, it also creates boredom.
This is the Police is simple but highly addictive if you have the time to dedicate becoming more invested in Jack Boyd and his personal chaotic life. It is easier to pick up This is the Police and just enjoy the elements of resource management by skipping all the narrative.