Overview and Basic Game Play
This is the Police is set circa 1980 where rampant corruption is throughout the police force. You play the role of Police Chief Jack Boyd, a near retirement Police Chief who is very well liked by his officers but not by City Hall or the corrupt Mayor. The story revolves mostly around his retirement but also inserts some personal life problems as well. In This is the Police, you are commanding a group of police men and women as well as detectives. You are tasked with dispatching the correct amount of police officers to impromptu crimes like robberies, rapes, and suspicious calls as well as sending out detectives for stolen art heists and missing pharmaceuticals from a lab. Officers and Detectives both level up on successful calls and investigations and you can manually make them gain rank by giving them stripes to make them more proficient at their jobs. The control of being able to do this instead of it being automatic is a nice change of pace and adds a little more micro management to the game.
And that’s where this game excels. You not only dispatch Officers to crime scenes but also work for the Mob, as well as City Hall. Or, you can work against the Mob, as well as City Hall. You have random tasks that are thrown in too that adds a little surprise and unpredictability to the game. You have to make sure to manage resources well and not to extend on calls because you never know what will come up next. Layered with the strategy game is the story about corruption, politics, corruption, your retirement, and, well, corruption.
My favorite aspect of the game is the Officers. They have unique personalities that you have to figure out. From my time playing the game, most are alcoholics. They will try to call in hung over and you can let them stay home or make them come in. There are possible repercussions however if you don’t let them sleep it off. You can hire officers, fire them, they can die in various ways, they can quit, they can just come up missing, or when off on a side job decide that it pays better so they take the new job as a career and leave the Force. If you do fire them, you are given an option of firing them based on performance or age or just firing them without cause. If you have cause that’s the end of it. Firing them without cause can have some pretty big repercussions however.
The thing that is hard to miss in this game and has been discussed the most in reviews, is the backwards thinking of the characters in the game. You are asked to crack down on Gay Rights marches, asked to fire all black cops, all old cops, to crack down on Women’s Rights rallies. It has story lines that are ageist, sexist, homophobic, and racist. Most reviewers, however, can’t see past this and have painted it as Homophobic and Racist. To do that, is to sell the game short. It’s set in a period of cassette tapes and Zack Morris cellphones. So make sure to keep that in mind while playing.
I won’t spoil everything and trust me, this is only part of the game. There are lots of turns and twists and humorous points to the game that you will have fun figuring out for yourself and thanks to branching decision trees, you can play the game over and over and the story changes.
Interview with Steve Breslin
I was fortunate enough to interview Steve Breslin, who handled English translation and Voice-Over production and he gives some great insight to the game.
Micah Patterson (MP): A lot of reviews of the game call it racist, sexist, and ageist because of some of the goals in the game like “Fire all black officers” or “Fire all old officers” or requiring you to have 3 Asian officers for a Japanese businessman who will be in town, working that day. How would you defend the game against these type of claims?
Steve Breslin (SB): Nothing is more saddening to us than the cruel machinations of institutional power, and man’s inhumanity to man. That’s why we made a game about these things, in hopes it will help light the way to a better world. Everybody knows that representing evil in a work of art is completely different from recommending the pursuit of evil. That’s easy stuff, right? Our 95% positive rating on Steam means that the players really got it, and we’re loving the online comments from the game’s fans.
But yes, we were a bit dismayed by the negative reviewers, who didn’t seem to understand the obvious stuff that everybody else totally got. Dismayed, but unsurprised. If you bring up something that makes people uncomfortable, some will rationalize a reason to object, even if the rationalization doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. It’s really sad though. Not to be a drama queen, but reviewers have enormous power in the games industry. They hold a sacred trust. After all, irresponsible reviewers can not only damage the prospects of the game they’re reviewing, but can also jeopardize future games from those artists and designers. But I don’t hold anything against them. It’s a perfectly human reaction. If anyone is to blame, it’s the editorial directors who have failed at proper mentoring.
If I could say one thing to those folks, it would be this: “The road to enlightenment passes through the valley of circumspection”.; In other words, be open minded and don’t just rationalize your first impression. One of the most important lessons for a writer is to step back and think. Writers are so good at rhetoric that it can easily become a crutch they use in lieu of thinking. They can sometimes get so obsessed with justifying themselves that they forget to question themselves honestly. The same goes for politicians, of course. That failure, that stubborn refusal to reconsider your own position, is the root cause of most of the world’s problems.
MP: You did the Voice Over Production work on the game. Can you tell us a bit more on the process for this?
SB: Sure! Picking the right actors is key. Jon St. John was the first actor we approached for the project, because we knew he’d be just perfect for the lead role. He was excited about the project right away, and it was really wonderful working with him. All the other actors were fantastic too. We recorded most of them at my studio in Buffalo, a city that’s quite famous for its drama scene. We have talent galore. One of the mob bosses was voiced by the great Saul Elkin, the kingpin of our local Shakespeare in the Park.
Fun fact, of a technical kind: the second most important thing in recording voices (after casting) is to record in a nice-sounding room. People often hear about soundproofing (which you’ll need if you’re recording during a thunderstorm). But what you don’t often hear about is the sound
inside the room. My studio has lots of sound-baffles and 6-foot deep layered walls of sound-absorbent materials to absorb low-frequency sound waves — the ones which come from the actors’ voices. This makes the voices sound crisp and clear, not muddied by reverberations. That’s why the voices in the game sound so good (from a technical perspective).
MP: How long was the process from the initial idea for the game to actually being published?
SB: The idea started coming together in 2014, and we contacted Jon in October to lend his voice for the kickstarter event, which opened in January 2015. After that, it took about a year of hard work to put together the “alpha” version of the game, and five more months to finish and polish everything.
More information can be found at: weappy-studio.com
You can read more about Mr. Breslin at www.breslinstudios.com