Inspired by old school retro pixel games and the swathe of uber cool action movies in the 80s, Mega City Police knows some excellent inspirations when it sees them. Created by the mind of just one person at Undreamed Games, it does its RoboCop influences the justice they not only deserve, but expect.
A pixel shooter with a bullet-hell lite element and a bird’s eye view perspective that hones in on the inordinate number of projectiles and visceral melee smacks, the game knows what it wants to be. Will it achieve the same cult status of its titular cyborg detective? Better get to the streets and find out if it’s a crime of corpo magnitude or a harbinger of sweet deliverance.
Crime Scene Incineration
Mega City Police, right off the proverbial bat, is a straightforward, to the punch kind of game. Like RoboCop himself, there’s no foreplay or flirting, you’re gunning head-first into the action. Mega City is a pixelart dystopian hellhole that needs purging of criminals, and you’re the badass cop that’s going to sign, seal and deliver sweet vengeance on Mega Corp.
That’s all the story and exposition you’re gonna get, and to be honest, it’s all you’re going to need. Starting out in the precinct, you’ll select from one of a handful of classes with which you’ll take on Mega City’s most repugnant. Each class has two abilities unique to them and their stats for health, stamina and speed will vary accordingly, too.
You can roam around the office, mess with audio tracks collected from playing, check out each character’s backstory or try out weapons at the range. There’s even a donut box in the breakroom, so you can’t say Mega City Police isn’t realistic.
There’s not a whole lot to do at the hub, but it’s a cool space filled with personality and quirky details. Using a controller, I did have a couple of UI issues and input lags, but it’s a minor issue that’s easily looked past.
“Excuse Me, I Have To Go. Somewhere There Is A Crime Happening”
Upon selecting your chosen arbiter of retribution, you’ll head out into Mega City itself. As a roguelike title, you’ll probably know what to expect from the game. You’ll journey through five zones, each with 2-3 rooms to clear, culminating in a boss encounter at the end. Each zone becomes progressively more difficult, throwing new enemy types and higher numbers of threats at you.
If you succumb to the city’s seedy inhabitants, you’ll restart from the very beginning, losing all progress, currency and weapons acquired. Unlike many other roguelikes, the only permanent rewards from a run are music tracks you collect and unlocking new class types or skins. While this choice keeps Mega City Police challenging from run one to run twenty, it can feel slightly same-y as a result.
Experimenting with different classes is very fun however and keeps the gameplay fresh over repeated attempts. My initial attempts as the Rookie proved to be just that – as green and poorly prepared as me when I attempt to go camping. When I discovered the engineer however, with his accompanying drone and temporary invulnerability shield, suddenly I was cooking on gas instead of tepid firepit.
Certain classes are much better geared towards ranged or melee combat, while their stats will also dictate what kind of playstyle you can actually get away with. Try and use a detective as a balls-to-wall tank and you’re going to get decimated faster than Arnie’s squad in Predator. Despite the rough start however, it encouraged me to play in different styles and get out of my comfort zone, which I think is a real testament to the class system’s quality.
No Coppin’ About
Let’s talk action. Mega City Police is all about the fast-paced, twitch reaction running-and-gunning you’d hope for from a retro style shooter. Upon entering any section, you’ll be provided with one very simple task: eradicate every living thing that isn’t you. Once all enemies are good and deceased, you move on to the next area.
There’s a really good mix of enemy varieties. From dynamite spewing armoured beasts, to flame-spitting hulks and invisible ninjas who can halve your health quicker faster than salmonella, there’s a lot to contend with. Managing space effectively, popping off your abilities in an efficient way and making best use of weapons are absolutely essential.
I was constantly discovering new bullet-based guns, laser rifles, electric pistols, rocket launchers, you name it. Then the game got wacky. A stapler gun (which is a rapid-fire SMG type) for example, gave me no end of laughs when I first acquired it. Melee weapons are abundant too, from pipes to swords to pocket knives, there’s no end to the options of slaughter at your fingertips.
It creates an exceptionally fun and engaging combat system to operate in. Using the environment to blow up a vehicle, taking out 3 enemies at once, or strafing around that one column that keeps snipers from deleting you out of existence is great fun. Mega City Police is also challenging even on its default classic and normal mode, with 2-3 hits enough to have you restarting. That’s not even mentioning hard and extreme difficulties…
Poorgments and Upgrades
As you might expect in a game with upwards of dozens of weapons types, some are a bit useless or won’t fit your playstyle at all. This isn’t really a problem, as it incentivises messing around with different ones until you find your favourites. Some enemy compositions and placements can feel slightly unfair, particularly in boss arenas, but again this seems to be slightly RNG and luck based (or just git gud).
Speaking of boss battles: there are five in total, each upping the ante considerably. Every boss (minus the final one) is accompanied by a host of regular goons too, so you’ll need to strategise leading up to them to ensure you come prepared. You know, abilities charged, health recovered, enough ammo, the usual. They’re challenging fights and provide some much needed variation in approach to keep you interested.
One area I was less enamored with was the upgrade system. As you defeat enemies and make your way through levels, you’ll hoover up money they drop. Between one level and the next, you can purchase passive buffs, two weapons, ammo and money-producing boons. Each time it’s random what you can potentially purchase.
Honestly, I almost never purchased weapons as they’d be poorer than my discovered ones, while it was really hit-or-miss if I’d get the ammo type I needed or even perks that would help me. I get that it’s RNG and random, creating that idylic one-off perfect run where everything collapses into place. But, I found the upgrade system a bit lacking, usually only buying a single perk, some ammo and a money boon once per run.
Serve The Pixels, Uphold The Gore
Ammo proved to be my biggest adversary throughout Mega City Police, as did the final encounter with a couple of rather unfair attack patterns. Despite this, I always kept coming back for more. Mega City Police is only 10-20 minutes long for a full run, so even if you stumble at the final hurdle you’ll have that “one more go” itch gnawing at the fringe of your brain to try again.
It helps that the retro, pixelated visuals and aesthetic flair are so thoroughly pleasing. Whether it be red projectiles being flared out in all directions, flames erupting in a satisfying explosion or turning a criminal pest into a ghost with a laser, Mega City Police’s graphics thrive. While the environments aren’t anything to write home about, it all fits very neatly into the vibe the game is going for.
As expected, the real hero of this violent sci-fi precinct is the character models for the various classes. Each is inspired from action movies of the 80s and they’ll be instantly recognisable to almost anyone. Even me, someone born in 1994 and being mostly film-illiterate. Messing around with different skins and cosmetic looks is a real joy in this game and Undreamed Games nailed the look of the models.
There are a couple of hiccups, like the aiming reticle glitching out on the penultimate area, forcing me to only aim in one direction. However, these little niggles fail to detract from the overall enjoyment of playing this superbly addicting and fortitude testing title.
“Your Move, Creep”
Despite the short length of the current content offering, Mega City Police has a high replay value and a certain charm that makes it hard to put down. I revelled in the thrill of scooping up a grenade launcher and blasting a vicious foe, or scraping by an area only to delight in finding a medkit crate.
It can definitely feel punishing in places if you fall to a particularly brutal section or a run-ending attack, but that’s all part of the allure of roguelikes. The 80s action movie theme works wonderfully as a backdrop for a stylish action game and the soundtrack is suitably intense and retro inspired.
Much like Robocop, this is a supremely self-confident title that will not falter in its endeavours to please and equally punish you. Crime has nowhere to hide, your crew of sci-fi judges are out in force, rocket launchers and crowbars in hand.
Channeling a wonderful 80s pixel aesthetic and a frantic approach to run-and-gun gameplay, Mega City Police delights with its intense and challenging, though short-lived runs. A game that hits more than it misses, it’s a fantastic reminder of why the 80s action heroes were so revered, and probably feared, too.
Mega City Police is available now on PC via Steam.
Developer: Undreamed Games
Publisher: Ravenage Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here. If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.