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Police Stories

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action
Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Developer: Mighty Morgan
Release Date: 2018


PC Preview - 'Police Stories'

by Cody Medellin on July 19, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Police Stories is a tactical top-down shooter forces you to make split-second decisions, and where shooting first is not an option.

You think you know what to expect from Police Stories based on a screenshot or two. The game's top-down perspective and twin-stick-like controls for the keyboard and mouse make you think of Hotline Miami but with cops in the starring role. It only takes a few minutes to see that this is a very different beast altogether.

Before you even reach the first level, you'll realize that this is a more tactical take on the overhead shooter. After all, you do have an AI partner at all times, and you have the ability to equip yourself with gear. The gear has a wide range of uses, including a motion detector, a smoke grenade, and a camera so you can see into the next room. Once you get into the gameplay, you'll realize that you move much slower than expected since you're always sneaking around instead of a full-on run.

The game also tries to make this a more tactical affair by severely restricting your level visibility. There's a slight fog of war in each stage, so although you can see the level's layout, you can't see who's there until you enter a room. Even then, you're restricted by the direction of your vision cone. This can lead to a few situations where you initially don't see anyone in the room, but someone to the side gets the drop on you.

If your solution is to simply replay the levels and always go in guns blazing until every area is clear, then you'll find plenty of things to deter you from doing that. For starters, everything but the level layout is randomized each time you play a stage. Replays are quick, but you're encouraged to exercise caution since you never know when you should or shouldn't shoot — or if you need to knock open a door instead of interacting with it normally.

There's also the matter of the scoring system, which sees you get more points for doing things like arresting a perp instead of gunning them down. You're docked points for killing hostages and shooting enemies in the back, and although that doesn't instigate an immediate mission failure, it does hinder your overall progress since you can't unlock a new level until you reach a point threshold in the previous one.

The levels in question have some variety, at least compared to last year's alpha build. The newer stages now add bomb defusal to the mix, so there's extra incentive to not kill everyone you see since a character may have the codes to disarm the bomb. While that may not seem like much of a change in that timespan, you have to remember that the aforementioned gear wasn't part of the game at that time, so the experience between then and now is night and day — even in the game's older stages.

So far, this all sounds like what Kickstarter pledges wanted when the project was introduced years ago. At the same time, you get the feeling that there's still more work to be done. Placeholder names aside, it feels like players should be able to ask their AI partners to do more. You can shoot out windows, but you can't climb up them. There's also a tendency for enemies to quickly shoot their hostages, and it would be nice if that trigger-happy attitude were toned down.

There is potential in Police Stories. The commitment to strategy and the caution in approaching each room adds some tension, while the random placement of elements means you can't use brute force to get through a level via memorization. The partner system and use of gear is interesting, but we really need to see the final game to determine if that holds up. Unfortunately, it could be a while before we can see that happen since the game only has a nebulous "2018" release year attached to it.

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