Who doesn’t love the 80s? A time of wild excess and neon highlights, a time of blockbuster movies and Synthwave hits and the era I was born into. So, its safe to say I have a bit of a soft spot for that decade and when I spotted German based developers Gamma Minus’ newest title Rough Justice: ’84 it hit me right in the nostalgia fuelled soft spot. After looking beyond its neon-soaked visuals, I found something a little bit different from the norm, as this is actually a single-player board game-inspired strategy/management game. Victory is found through solving puzzles, throwing dice and playing the hand of cards you’re dealt the best, as you try to successfully run your own private security agency, dealing with everything from security, fugitive recovery, repossession cases, and much more.
Rough Justice: ’84 is an interesting set up that is backed up by an intriguing tale; where you play as Jim Baylor, a once proud cop who was locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. After doing some hard time, you’re back on the mean streets of Seneca, where the crime rate has rocketed. It’s at this point your approached by an ex-colleague about getting into the private detective agency game, as it’s where big bucks are to be made from cleaning up Seneca. The writing and narrative are extremely well told here, with brilliant characters and events you come across while out on the streets. With a charming 80’s buddy cop film vibe to it, as you work case to case. There is also a huge overarching narrative backing everything up, centred on corruption.
Gameplay is very stat driven and does a lot of data dumping at the beginning, where Rough Justice: ’84 tries to explain what to do and not to do, as well as explaining its almost D&D systems at play. This is a lot to take in within the first 15 minutes of firing it up, but hang in there and things quickly fall into place and you’ll be sending agents on hot leads and stakeouts, finding new cases and most importantly keeping the agency in the green. During cases events will happen: for example – a robber stealing a handbag and you give chase after them. This gives you a choice to make where you could end the pursuit by tackling them. This is where the game brings in the dice roll system, to see if you are successful or not, adding an element of luck to the gameplay. There are also a number of mini-games you’ll come across from lock picking, to hotwiring cars. These help to add a bit more of a hands-on feeling to things, as well as variety overall.
Visually for a game set in the 80s it looks how you may expect… full of lush and bright neon colours. Though a little limited on the animation front in terms of on-screen action, there is a cast of era perfect drawn characters that look like they have just walked off the set of Miami Vice. It is also a fully voiced affair with some great voice acting on show and it’s all backed up by a superb synth powered soundtrack, adding to the great sense of the era and helping to enrich the solid presentation. Rough Justice: ’84 is a solid strategy game that fuses together an intriguing narrative and board-like gameplay, with a striking visual presentation thanks in part to its hand-drawn animations. This a brilliant 80’s-inspired experience that will put a smile on those who lived through the era and will shine a light on what we all thought it was like when we were youngsters.
An Xbox review copy of Rough Justice: ’84 was provided by Gamma Minus’ PR team and is available now on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and PC for around £10.