Have you ever been playing the old Doom games and thought to yourself, “Wow, I would like this a lot more if these monsters were wearing tuxedos?” Then this lighthearted funny first person shooter by Mopeful Games might be for you.
Published by No More Robots, Fashion Police Squad mimics old ID Software games with a flair and flourish. You play as Sergeant Desmond (Des), ridding the city of horrific fashion crimes. They could be wearing baggy clothing, drooping pants, boring suits, tacky socks with sandals, and other atrocious combinations. There are multiple weapons in your arsenal, which include your standard issue splatting gun, a sewing machine, water blaster, belt whip, and…sock gnomes? This game plays on various stereotypical/cliché clothing styles that are considered unglamorous.
The gameplay loop is straightforward, and involves you reaching the other end of the level. While there aren’t too many boss battles, it breaks up the gameplay from being monotonous. Level locations can start to feel old after a while. There were points where I felt like I was walking backwards through a previous level. Fashion Police Squad simulates Doom 64, where you have to be constantly moving around the area to avoid the barrage of enemy attacks. Where gameplay can become frustrating at times are the platforming segments. Trying to grapple and swing with the belt whip can be cumbersome, as the speed of your swing doesn’t line up with the speed in which you can turn the camera. There is only a tiny window where the belt whip can connect with a swinging pole, making timing a challenge. The water gun speeds the player up to allow them to run and jump across large gaps. The game doesn’t have “coyote time,” like other platforming games, so you immediately start falling when you step off an edge. The act of platforming is messy, as you have to be looking down to fire the weapon at the ground to make you slide, but you need to be looking up to know where you’re heading.
There is a strong pacing to Fashion Police Squad in terms of level design. When it introduces a new weapon there is typically a “test room” where a player can try it out without taking too much damage. The difficulty then ramps up, challenging the player to juggle multiple weapons at once. Alongside the new weapon a new kind of enemy will be introduced, thus further challenging the player’s ability to keep track of what enemies get defeated with what weapon. The build of the levels can be a bit tedious, as the gap between levels and boss battles is unpredictable. If Fashion Police Squad was more paced out with two levels between each boss it wouldn’t feel as dragged out.
The story is simple and slightly disappointing. Fashion Police Squad introduces an interesting world to the player where poor clothing styles are a crime. Part of me wishes to learn more of the player character’s backstory, and who these different members of my team are. The grand reveal halfway through falls a little flat as new characters get introduced and muddies up the lineup of what we already know. Half, if not most, of Fashion Police Squad is a long chase sequence, with nothing more to the ending of a level than “Oh look, the enemy is still moving, onto the next location.” Having puzzles or if characters were more fleshed out would have broken up the gameplay a bit better.
Playing through Fashion Police Squad, I was really hoping it would turn into a clean and polished masterpiece, oozing with charm and witty jokes. Unfortunately it falls flat in certain aspects. Because Fashion Police Squad is trying to mimic a 3D game with 2D graphics, knowing where your body is positioned compared to projectiles around you can be difficult. There were points where attacks were unavoidable. If there was a kind of dodge button a lot of the struggles would be remedied. The version I played was the beta, which still had some nasty glitches that stopped me in my tracks. Luckily I happened to figure out the developer controls so it allowed me to move on in the game. I hope the glitches I experienced were caught, like being stuck in the air vents or problems with the menu toggle screen. The enemies can be unbalanced at times, where a cluster of them can easily overwhelm a player. The enemies have a problem where if they find you they will follow you everywhere. In other games you typically find enemies locked within a certain area, but these enemies are constantly pursuing you, making it impossible to move around. When enemies are defeated, a happy version of them is visible dancing in the spot where you defeated them, blocking your view at times or making you think they’re still attacking.
The art in Fashion Police Squad uses a mashup of sharp and colorful detailed caricatures and gritty pixel art. The world is vibrant, with enemies and items easy to identify. The animations of the enemies and other characters are fun and silly, with personality oozing from their pleated suit coats. The silliness of the characters are put on the spotlight at the end of each level when all the defeated enemies walk along the catwalk.
The music is catchy and slightly dynamic, but doesn’t get in the way of battling where it becomes annoying. The sound design is the part that is aggravating. If multiple of the same sound, say two of the same kind of enemy, happen at the same time, their sound levels are boosted and distort the mix. It can become disorientating when you are ambushed by a mob and a cacophony of sound crashes through the speakers. Fashion Police Squad does make it fun, though, by having an announcer yell out fashion terms when enemies are defeated, and enemies also have little catchphrases where they are defeated.
In summary: gameplay is solid, but I wish there was less platforming involved. Enemies felt unbalanced at times, making the game progression feel unfair. Story was simple and effective, I just wanted more from the actual Squad. The art was colorful and silly, but easy to understand. The music fits the world while sound effects need some balancing in the mix.
Jordan played Fashion Police Squad on PC with a review code.