Fashion Police Squad (Xbox Series) Review

Stitch and repair, until it is done!
Header

Arriving on consoles five months after the PC release, Fashion Police Squad is as entertaining and charming as ever, and translates well to consoles with solid gamepad support. However, nothing has changed when it comes to level design and the often fluctuating difficulty curve, so it remains a game best consumed in short bursts.

Oh, the humanity!

Fashion Police Squad places you in the exquisite boots of Trendopilis officer Des as he tackles daily fashion crimes with his partner. After investigating a spike in fashion crimes, they soon become embroiled in a plot to destroy the city’s reputation as the fashion capital. It’s one part crime story, one part family feud, and incredibly stupid in a charming way.

There are cliched archetypes like noble heroes and nefarious villains, with plenty of predictable plot twists and ridiculous contrivances. From the mid-point, it veers dangerously close to excessive – well, more excessive – when the number of puns escalates and it crams dozens of videogame and pop culture references into the major boss fights. It is, at least, consistent and committed to its flamboyant characters and fashion-focused capers. However, the humour won’t land for everyone and it wears thin if played for too long.

Now as a heterosexual male with a utilitarian fashion sense, I’m not best suited to critique the representation of Des as a fashionista or the dialogue, but I will give credit to developer Mopeful Games for taking a non-violent and camp approach to a genre typically associated with extreme violence and hypermasculinity.

All that said, while Fashion Police Squad is enhanced by its novel premise, quirky cast, and visual style, it’s still a competent and enjoyable shooter without it.

Beat some (fashion) sense into them

Unlike many indie retro FPS that stick to emulating the aesthetics, Fashion Police Squad keeps the gameplay reasonably retro too. The controls are simple and intuitive: you run, jump, whip, and shoot your way through levels alternating between fashion offenders and platforming sections, sometimes a mix of both to create challenging encounters. There’s no ammunition limit, no puzzles beyond simple key hunts, no dialogue choices, and only a limited accessory system that provides a few passive buffs and outfit changes. Success is primarily down to player skill using the tools provided.

Fashion Police Squad keeps the combat tactical by introducing offenders that are only susceptible to one or two weapon types, or require their alternate fire modes to defeat. As you progress, you’ll encounter them in deadly configurations with each other, or the environment, forcing you to constantly stay on the move and switch up weapons while isolating and picking off priority targets.

It takes a few levels to get going but, with your belt whip in one hand and a half-dozen fashion-inspired firearms in the other, you’ll soon get into a groove of tearing around levels, stunning the most dangerous targets, and blasting fashion violators back into style. To get yourself out of a jam, you slowly build up a “fab meter” that lets you trigger the “fab slap glove”, boosting your health and allowing you to dash around, slapping fashion sense into offenders with one glorious strike.

Fashion offenders are drawn from common stereotypes: drab office workers that fling briefcases and need to be blasted with your 2-DYE4 shotgun; hipster vapers that fling a stream of bubbles and need to be beaten with your Belt of Justice; and annoying Karens that fill the area with vision-obscuring teargas and need a barrage from your “Tailormade” Sewing Machinegun to defeat. There are even elderly flashers that need to be stunned before blasting them with the appropriate weapon, and techno DJs with lethal AoE attacks that require a good soaking. At the end of each level, you get to watch them parade on a catwalk alongside your completion statistics.

There are only three traditional boss fights but they’re all entertaining with multiple phases and several feature mini-games that draw on other classic genres. Most bosses also fling so many projectiles it becomes part bullet-hell shooter, keeping you on your toes while trying to deal with their shifting weapon vulnerabilities.

Fashion Police Squad Hugo Bauss

Fashion Police Squad follows a traditional linear structure over 13 main missions and a half dozen challenges, though you have an overworld map to replay them to complete challenges or to find all the secrets posters. Coloured keys are replaced with coloured scissors used to cut “impassible” ribbons, health kits are mocktails, swag counts as armour, and weapon power-ups for the default 2DYE-4 shotgun are based on the colours you absorb from objects or offenders. Without the maze-like design of its classic inspirations, it’s a fast and streamlined experience, with few levels lasting more than 15 minutes.

The downside is that too many are claustrophobic gauntlets that don’t give you the space to avoid attacks, while others are packed with vast empty space that encourages you to use your whip grapple to quickly zoom through them. As a result, Fashion Police Squad is fun enough short bursts, but the longer you play, the more obvious the linear structure, abundant invisible walls, and repeating art assets become.

Fashion Police Squad Missions

Beauty and the screen-tearing beast

Artistically, Fashion Police Squad looks great with detailed but distinctive sprite work for the characters and weapons, all set in a 3D world emulating the look of id Tech 1 or Build Engine games from the mid-1990s. Sticking to that era, voice work is compressed and distorted, with minimal VO for the cutscenes but plenty of entertaining quips from fashion offenders when they attack you or are defeated. The music is also era-appropriate and excellent, with catchy chiptune-style tracks for each level, exaggerated dramatic pieces for the over-the-top cutscenes, and dance tunes for the end-level catwalk.

As the PC release of Fashion Police Squad can run on a potato, I had high hopes for both the last- and current-gen versions. In theory, it runs at a high resolution and is incredibly smooth on both Xbox Series consoles – but there’s no v-sync and presumably no target framerate. I can only assume Fashion Police Squad is trying to push as many frames as possible and the result is continuous, glaringly obvious, full-screen tearing that is only resolved if you have a variable refresh rate display.

The console release comes with options to toggle the visual quality, disable some post-processing effects, and adjust the FOV, but these made zero difference. I’m hoping a launch-day patch will fix this asap.

Fashion Police Squad Art Style

Stitch and repair, until it is done!

Returning to Fashion Police Squad was still a lot of fun but playing through the 6-ish hour campaign in two sittings made the flaws more obvious. The humour can feel excessive at times and the level design often works against the smart, tactical combat. Many encounters feel fast, furious, and satisfying, but sometimes you’re dropped into an arena with so much space it makes the combat easy and dull. Other times, you’re stuck on a small platform, surrounded by environmental hazards, a deadly mix of fashion offenders, and a barrage of AoE attacks, leaving you with no option but to tank damage.

That said, if you never played it on PC, and you’re looking for a campy, non-violent, but challenging retro-shooter, Fashion Police Squad is worth a look – just play it in short bursts.

A review code for Fashion Police Squad was provided to gameblur by the publisher.

Fashion Police Squad (Xbox Series) Review

Fashion Police Squad (Xbox Series) Review
7 10 0 1
7/10
Total Score
  • Story
    7/10 Good
  • Gameplay
    7/10 Good
  • Visuals
    7/10 Good
  • Audio
    8/10 Very Good

The Good

  • A flamboyant lead, campy humour, too many puns, and a non-violent premise
  • Satisfying and tactical retro shooting
  • Charming visual style and catchy soundtrack

The Bad

  • Loses steam when played for long sessions
  • Wasted space and repeated assets in many levels
  • Ugly, full-screen tearing that needs patching ASAP
Total
0
Shares
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post
Header

ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree (PC) Review

Next Post
Video games of February 2023 header

The video games of February 2023

Related Posts