What do you get when you mix the hard boiled cop dramas of the 80’s with pixelated graphics? You get Beat Cop. The latest port to come to mobile. In the point and click adventure you play as Jack Kelly veteran officer whose job it is to keep warring gangs at bay, keep the streets clean from drugs and write a massive amount of tickets in a ode to fictionalized New York City of 1986.
Beat Cop starts off with the fall of Detective Kelly, when a investigation goes south he is on the hook for unlawful shooting, some stolen diamonds and a very pissed of, connected Senator. While Internal Affairs reviews your case you get knocked to a beat cop, all while trying yourself to unravel the conspiracy against you. You take over one of “easier” blocks on the beat you learn from the cop your replacing, who is just days way from retirement. Yes, there are plenty of tropes in Beat Cop. The hard as nails Sargent, the dude that thinks he is a stud, the token female and fat cop and of course, Mike, the cop you your replacing. The story slowly unfolds little by little with each day walking the hard city street. Characters come in go so frequently from the story that sometimes it’s hard to keep track. Oh and you have an Ex wife who you owe alimony to.
The game play in Beat Cop is pretty straight forward. You start each day getting a line up at the station. This includes special tasks and your ticket quota for the day. You can always see what you fellow officers have to say, most of the time it is a interesting back and forth but other times can lead to opportunities to earn some extra money. That really is the main drive and point of the game, to earn money. Every few days you’ll need to have enough money to cover alimony or your fired, you also need to be able to buy food to keep your stamina up and if you choose you can spend it on some seedier items like drugs or “company.” You earn a daily paycheck and you can also earn some money by taking bribes or doing odd jobs for the two gangs on the block.
From the get go, it is repeatedly drilled into your head that you do not have to do everything everyday. That you are given a choice. But these choices come at a price. If you slack of doing police work your pay gets docked, if you mess up helping out a gang, you risk making them angry at you all making it harder to get that next payment to your ex in on time. Each day works on an accelerated clock with certain tasks needed to be done at or after a certain time with random calls coming over the radio like robberies and domestic disturbances to respond to as well. It is a fun enough mix in short bursts, but doing two or more days in a short time span makes game play repetitive.
Being slightly repetitive wouldn’t be the only downside to the game. Beat Cop does very little to actually explain the mechanics of the game leaving for some missed tasks early on. For example the tickets you must write can be broken down into violations for tires, broken lights or parking. Parking violations are easy enough to figure out but you are left to play around with what constitutes bad tires or broken lights, not to mention when the game as you trying to search vehicles for drugs and your greeted with what apparently is a sorting puzzle. There is also the case the first time you have to use your gun, an event that until i figured it out left some suspects with the chance to get away.
The writing does it’s best to capture prime time TV of the 80’s but one can’t help but look at it from the lens and perspective of today. To put it bluntly the game can be all around offensive and shocking. The two gangs are routinely referred to as “the darkies” and “the wops” and the dry cleaner owner is “yellow.” It was always off putting even though I fully understood the aesthetic the developers were going for and I often felt like it took away from some of the genuinely funny dialogue between the other cops back at the office and citizens trying to talk their way out of a ticket. Still Beat Cop is a fun little game for you when you need to kill five minutes here or there. If you grew up on 80’s action you will get a kick out of it more than likely. Beat Cop is out on IOS and Android as well as PC now.
Disclaimer. We were given a review code for Beat Cop but this in no way shapes our thoughts about the game.