I’ve gotten to say a lot lately how fortunate I am getting to review indie games because of so many great games that can be found there. For every This War of Mine, though, there’s an Enforcer: Police Crime Action; a game so rife with issues and confusing gameplay that it’s less of a game, and more of an experiment in patience and self-loathing. While there’s quite a bit of potential packed into this strange and sprawling title, it’s held back by itself in so many ways that nearly every bit of that possibility is wasted.
To say that Enforcer: Police Crime Action has some issues is putting it mildly. My first five minutes of the game were spent trying to figure how to get my newly-created character, Ella, into the home she’d just returned to and sort out how to engage in any kind of policing. It turns out, once you’ve squeezed through the tight hallways and horrid camera work of your tiny, cramped house, you’ll first have to sleep, and then use your wardrobe to start your shift.
Seeing as your cruiser is parked right outside, it baffled me at first that you can’t even hop in until you’ve got the uniform on, and you’re certainly not going anywhere without it.
Once you manage to, by some miracle, begin a ‘shift’, you’re thrown out into a pretty open world. Sparsely populated and difficult to navigate, this dusty desert town is apparently a hotbed of criminal activity. You’ll receive radioed missions informing you that “someone has drugs”, “someone helped with a murder”, and other sinister goings-on. Your job, of course, is to try and interrogate witnesses, find the criminal, and arrest them. You’ve got a full supply of equipment, including your radio, a pistol, an assault rifle (?????), and your trusty stun-gun — and that’s just when you’re on foot. Your vehicle, too, is equipped with some handy items, including cones for blocking out areas and radar to try trapping speeders on the road.
Enforcer: Police Crime Action has a lot of neat ideas and ambitions, but the technical issues make it impossible to take seriously. It does have a certain kind of charm, perhaps, in the way that a B movie does — as long as you’re not paying full price, it can be worth a laugh to fire up. Controls, camera angles, and remarkably unclear objectives and interactions bog down the apparently-serious tone. On a mission to bust a drug dealer, I lost points for kicking in three doors without warrants before finally spotting my mark, who sprinted off until I drew my pistol and shot her in the leg, at which point she became compliant to arrest. It was very surreal, and terrible police work.
I think the problem with Enforcer: Police Crime Action is that it seems to take itself seriously in a way that the gameplay just can’t support. Shift hours, stress, hunger, gasoline for the cruiser – these are all realistic concerns, but the game comes off as such a parody of itself that managing these is a near-impossible task.
Maybe with an irreverent tone or lampoon-style story, there’d be something here, but as it stands, we end up with a game that’s trying to be something it isn’t, and it just flat-out doesn’t work. While it might be worth a few chuckles for a rock-bottom cost, the $19.99 price of admission on Steam is much steeper than I could possibly recommend paying. Unless you’re looking to burn some unused credit on a few hours of half-frustrated amusement, there’s no reason to look into this one.