If there’s one thing I like, it’s fast paced boomer shooters. I do have to admit though, that gritty and dark shooters that take themselves far too seriously are way too common. Even Ion Fury with all her quicks, still felt like it took itself seriously in its own futuristic action heroway.
Fashion Police Squad does away with all that by focusing on one dumb joke for the game’s entire premise and rolling with it to an extreme. With a game all about solving fashion crimes with various styling ‘guns’, there’s not a single ounce of seriousness in the entire game.
Many thanks to No More Robots for the review code.
DRIP AND TEAR UNTIL IT’S DONE
Fashion Police Squad puts you in the stylish shoes of Sergeant Des, a copper that patrols the streets of Trendopolis looking for miscreants committing crimes against fashion. Unlike regular cops, he doesn’t shoot suspects – instead jazzing them up with his attire-enhancing arsenal. Whether it be old men exposing themselves to you, or tacky tourists, there’s plenty of fashion criminals to bring to justice. Things take a turn for the worse though, as Des soon finds himself tangled up in the threads of an evil plot that aims to subject the citizens of Trendopolis to an intolerable amount of fashion faux pas. The humanity! Naturally, it’s your job to stop the mysterious fiend before it’s too late.
TAKING DOWN FASHION FOE-PAS
As the name implies, Fashion Police Squad is an FPS, but one specifically styled in the not-quite-3D era of DOOM and Duke Nukem 3D. Taking the tight and fast gameplay of those games and ditching the edgy atmosphere to something far more colourful and lighthearted; instead of shotguns and machineguns, you have paint-guns and swing machineguns. It’s daft, but it’s something the game sells you on once you start playing.
Criminals of Trendopolis are committing a variety of fashion crimes, and in order to sort it out you need to fix them accordingly. Drab business suits needs to be livened up with a bit of colour from the paintgun, whilst the neon wearing pricks zooming about on electric scooters need the colour sapped out of via the paintgun’s secondary function. Beefy dudes in flame shirts (you know which one I’m talking about…) need to be cooled down with a squirt from your water pistol, but be careful of the flames that they can summon at your feet. Sure, they’re essentially just a reskin of DOOM 2’s Arch Vile, but it also feels right within this universe. Upon meeting a new enemy, you’ll be introduced to their fashion crimes and be given a hint on how to deal with them. Thankfully most of them are pretty intuitive to work out, even though the occasional one can be slightly obtuse.
To top off Desmond’s arsenal, he also has access to a whip, that can be used for some (admittedly rather janky) platforming or to stun enemies momentarily, and a glove that can be charged up by dealing fashion justice and then used to bitchslap some fashion sense into enemies. It’s a neat and rather useful special attack, although I have to admit that I did forget to use it most of the time.
Unfortunately, that endearing fashion-fixing gimmick is also to the game’s detriment. Whilst switching weapons to take care of specific enemies gives the game a very Doom Eternal feel and ensures that each and every weapon has its use, the difference is that Eternal doesn’t require them for the most part. Sure, sticky grenades can disarm the Arachnotron’s cannon and make it completely ineffective, but so can just shooting it too. Fashion Police Squad, on the other hand, requires a very specific weapon to deal any damage at all. This limitation can make huge arena fights frustrating as you work on prioritising certain enemies to reduce the amount of damage taken – but, given the small environments you usually find yourself in, it’s impossible to avoid taking many hits and can seem somewhat unfair.
I think this final point is probably the crux of the problem. Whilst having a larger weapon selection could have allowed a bit more choice when dealing with foes, the biggest problem is how small some of the battle arenas are – especially in the later levels. One noteworthy moment in the penultimate level has you in a cramped space with very little in the way of cover and wave after wave of enemies piling on top of you. It’s very claustrophobic and can be extremely difficult to deal with due to a lack of combat and movement options. Having a bigger space to fight would have done wonders to make segments such as this actually enjoyable.
That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun though. These arena battles aren’t particularly common, and everything outside of those is incredibly fun. Analysing enemy types and dealing with their fashion crimes appropriately honestly does feel refreshing, and really gives Fashion Police Squad its own identity to make it stand out from the rest. It also allows for some excellent setpieces too, such as one incredible sequence that has you sniping fashion criminals and switching ammo types on the fly depending on what type of crime they’re committing. Between segments such as this and the impressively creative boss battles, there’s certainly enough here to keep the game from becoming stale over the course of its 4-5 hour runtime.
Fashion Police Squad is an absolute must play for fans of classic shooters. Not only does the unique gimmick feel incredibly refreshing, but it feels just so damn good to play. The platforming may be a little bit too janky, and the arena fights are a pain, but for the budget price you can’t go far wrong! Drip and tear …. until it is done!