It’s been a few months since I first checked out Mega City Police, with the initial preview being a positive experience. Fast-forward to today and the full release is here! With much more content than the Prelude demo, as well as additional refinements, is this still as challenging and exciting as the first time I played it? Let’s have a look.
The debut title from Undreamed Games, a one-man team based in Amsterdam, Mega City Police is a skill-based action roguelike with a retrowave aesthetic. You’ll feel right at home if you’ve played a roguelike before, with its steady increase in difficulty, randomised loot, and constant waves of enemies out for your blood. But the question is, does it do enough differently to set itself apart from others in the genre?
Taking place within a city — Mega City, to be precise — rife with criminal activity, you’ll play as one of several characters (each with their own unique abilities and starting weapon) with the task of bringing law and order back to the streets. There isn’t much in the way of a storyline here, but if you’ve ever played similar titles such as Enter the Gungeon or Nuclear Throne, you’ll know that a solid narrative isn’t important when a game is this fun and meant to be played in short bursts on repeat.
Mega City Police is brimming with personality that makes it feel like a love letter to action films of the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s got that retrofuture vibe that the media of the past envisioned the distant year of 1999 to look like, with neon-soaked streets and laser weapons aplenty. It’s gritty, but still rather charming; the character sprites — looking like WWE wrestlers currently under investigation for steroid use — being especially endearing, with a few not-so-subtle nods to fictional characters of the past.
So the game nails the atmosphere, but it also looks great as well, as if you were back in an arcade dumping coins into a machine for just one more go. For such a dingy city, there’s still a lot of colour in the environments, with pixelated explosions and blood-soaked streets around every corner.
This also extends to the audio, with plenty of synthwave artists lending their talents to Mega City Police’s soundtrack. You’ll unlock more tracks as you discover cassette tapes hidden throughout the levels, and there’s a good amount of music here for players to discover.
Gameplay is simple enough to understand, allowing for anyone to be able to pick up and play. Controls are simplistic and work well and will enable the use of either a mouse and keyboard or controller. It feels like a twin-stick shooter, spinning your mouse around to aim at enemies and taking shots at them with the left click. Right click serves as your melee attack, although watch out for your quickly depleting stamina!
But simple-to-learn controls doesn’t mean you’re in for an easy time, especially if you opt for the “classic” difficulty mode, as Mega City Police is tough! Leaving the safety of the police station — which acts as a hub area — you’re quickly thrown into combat with a variety of armed and unarmed goons. Quick reflexes and an itchy trigger finger are musts here, although death is never the end, and you’re free to quickly jump back to the start of the level or return to headquarters to swap to a different agent. There’s also, thankfully, a shop between each level, allowing you to resupply and purchase new weapons using all the completely legitimate money scavenged from the corpses left in your wake.
Each level contains three areas (including a boss encounter), and there’s barely ever a moment to take a breath, as enemies will come at you hard. These levels are, thankfully, procedurally generated, which staves off the tedium after yet another failed run. You’ll need to utilise all of your agent’s abilities to stay alive whilst swapping out weapons constantly so you don’t run the risk of running out of ammo during combat. Each agent has their own unique evasive manoeuvre and special attack too, such as the dash move or calling in reinforcements, they also have their own individual upgrades to ensure each one feels different to play as. The Cyborg, for example, can carry an extra weapon, whereas the Detective has a higher chance of finding new weapons from fallen foes. With eight playable agents in total (three available from the start, with five more to unlock), there’s a good variety to experiment with, and when you factor in the over 150 weapons to collect, there’s potentially a different build for each playthrough.
Whilst not an awful lot has changed in Mega City Police since my time with the preview, the small adjustments and additions have elevated what was already an enjoyable, tough-as-nails shooter to a much more polished version packed with content. It’s hard to pick faults with a game like this; it’s simple, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in quality. If you’ve got the patience for repeat runs of the same areas (although the layouts do change) and love the retro aesthetic, then it’s an absolute blast to play, be it for a few minutes or a few hours!
Mega City Police is a riot, in both senses of the word. It’s a challenge for sure — especially if you opt out of the casual mode — but each death was met with an “oh, just one more go” feeling that repeated over and over again until I finally conquered a run. It’s fun, flashy, and full of substance, and definitely a must-play title for fans of action roguelikes.
Mega City Police (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
A frantic, fun roguelike that perfectly encapsulates what makes the genre so great, without taking itself too seriously. A brilliant debut title, and an easy recommendation!