SWAT meets Hotline Miami: Police Stories preview
Russian studio Mighty Morgan’s Kickstarter-funded tactical shooter.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if SWAT and Hotline Miami had a baby? No? Well, Police Stories is the result, delivering a vintage-looking isometric tactical ops experience worthy of your attention. Though still in its beta phase and gathering feedback from its Kickstarter backers, this title clearly has a lot of potential and already provides entertainment value. With 555 backers as of July 5th, Police Stories has already gathered $26,679 of the original $25,000 of which Mighty Morgan aimed for in their Kickstarter campaign.
At its core, Police Stories is a classic top-down shooter, but what lies underneath is a much deeper concept: meaningful choices, score-based progression and the need to think strategically in order to avoid getting killed by criminals.
We control police officer John Rimes as we tackle each closed environment with the help of our trusted partner, Rick Jones, to whom we can instruct what to do: where to stand, aim and which gadgets to use, ranging from flashbang grenades, C4 explosives and portable cameras to spy beneath closed doors.
Our line of sight will determine if we’re able to locate the position of criminals hiding or just standing behind doors. This will let us plan ahead and avoid stepping into a room filled with crooks that may or may not have already listened to our footsteps, because everything all the way down to sprinting or walking are also factors to take into consideration.
Developers at St. Petersburg based studio Mighty Morgan have released a closed beta version of the game, which includes a handful of scenarios and already unlocked gadgets to equip. At this point it isn’t possible to experience the story mode or online co-op feature which Police Stories will include once its fully released.
That being said, what we’ve been able to play so far is still very interesting. Each scenario can spawn enemies in different positions as well as hostages. And this is where Police Stories gets even more depth of gameplay: whenever we encounter enemies or hostages, we have to react fast but accurately. Killing a hostage will punish us with a score penalty, and the same goes for shooting an enemy that has surrendered to our warnings when barging into a new room. Criminals can react by dropping their weapons and putting their hands up, or they can ignore our “GET DOWN!” cry and start shooting. Being able to determine what kind of enemy we’re encountering requires cold and steady hands.
Hostages and surrendered enemies can be subjected to arrest, which will award us with bonus points, as well as collecting evidence like weapons and drugs. The amount of points we get at the end of each level will let us move on to the next one and unlock new gear for our upcoming missions.
And when situations go haywire many things can go terribly wrong. Our trusted partner can die or get seriously injured, which will not only diminish our score numbers, but also leave us impaired for the rest of the game. Carrying a medkit or a stabilizer will allow us to at least save his life and get him up and running for our next assignment. Something that proved to be not only incredibly frustrating but also satisfyingly realistic is how a single bullet gets you killed. Although some may argue that this is excessive, fans of the accurate representation of a gun fight will be greatly pleased.
Even though we’ve only been able to test a couple of missions in Police Stories’ closed Beta version, it’s safe to say that this mixture of top-down shooting with police tactical-ops adds some fresh air to these genres and the indie scene in general. Our experience with the game has been not only fun, but challenging, versatile and exciting, even though the limited content and narrative elements available in this early version naturally prevents engagement.
The final version of the game, as game designer Ivan B told The Indie Game Website, will include around 18 different levels and 10 unique pieces of gear to unlock. Police Stories is aiming for release this fall on PC, Mac and Linux with a price tag of USD $15.