// N.P.P.D. RUSH // The Milk of Ultra Violet – PC
Developer: Railslave Games
Publisher: Kiss LTD.
Release Date: February 13, 2014
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Nerd Rating: 3 out of 10
Reviewed by ryanvoid
I’ll admit it: I’m a mark for retro 8-bit gaming. No matter what half-assed premise an indie game offers up (“Imagine Mario if he’d become an accountant instead of a plumber!”) I’ll probably play the damned thing if the promotional materials promise that sweet, sweet 8-bit goodness. But there is a limit. A place where no amount of nostalgia or optimism will make a game playable or fun, no matter how much it makes you feel like an extra in an arcade sequence from an 80’s action film. That point is // N.P.P.D. Rush // The Milk of Ultra Violet.
Billed as a “glitch punk micro epic,” the game takes place in Nauseous Pines, a cyberpunk metropolis plagued by a superdrug called Nox. You play a member of the N.P.P.D., a former Nox addict who must rescue “junkies” scattered throughout the flickering neon city while dodging guns and cars and fire. It’s a standard bullet-hell retro affair with all of the dials cranked to the right, ratcheting the difficulty to a level enjoyable only to caffeinated toddlers who also hate themselves. A small demographic, probably, but one that Railslave Games feels confident making games for. Large chunks of each level are missing and flash visually abominable neon colors, because, you know, glitch punk.
The controls are a crime against nature. The WASD-and-mouse setup sends you careening through the five levels with all the finesse of a sled on a garbage heap, and while this suits the game’s “half-finished arcade throwback” aesthetic and style, it’s a novelty that lasts about ten seconds. Lots of games, including Surgeon Simulator and Octodad: Dadliest Catch, have made slippery control mechanics a fun and interesting aspect of gameplay, but here, it’s just a self-consciously awful exercise in frustration with zero payoff. When you’re dying constantly, you don’t even have a chance to chuckle at the goofy controls. You have to start again and again, your fingers scrambling to navigate a police bike through each maddening stage. When you save a junkie, it adds a few more seconds to the timer flashing onscreen as it counts down. You’re forced to try and rocket through as quickly as possible before it reaches zero.
The soundtrack is surprisingly good. 80’s rock (complete with wheedly-wheedly guitar solos) blares loudly in the background for each level, and there’s a diverse selection of tunes. The songs aren’t half-bad, and developers clearly spent a lot of time and energy making the music fit the gonzo action of the game. I feel confident in saying that the music is one of the only redeemable aspects of //N.P.P.D. Rush//, and if nothing else, the soundtrack by renowned 16-bit musician Toshiaka Sakoda is worth picking up, if not the game itself. The real pity here is that such a great score was wasted on a game whose primary function is assaulting your eyes and making you angry.
The story has all the depth and cleverness of a shoebox diorama pasted together from the first season of Max Headroom. All of the cyberpunk standards are present – superdrug, neon hellscape, shady police force, check check check – but presented as a joyless montage of cliches. Any subversive aspects of cyberpunk are gutted. The shop in the game has options like “sell your organs for money,” but barely anything at the store actually helps you substantially or does anything aside from provide a brief chuckle.
//N.P.P.D. RUSH// The Milk of Ultra Violet is meant to look unfinished and glitchy. While judging any piece of consumable media, the two questions we need to ask are 1.) what is this thing trying to accomplish, and 2.) how well does it accomplish what it means to? It’s the reason we can say we like The Maltese Falcon, and we also like Robocop. //N.P.P.D. RUSH// functions perfectly fine as an installation piece, but fails absolutely to provide a good gaming experience, because it means to provide a bad one. It accomplishes what it sets out to do, but “being utterly unplayable” is a bullshit thing to aspire to as a piece of playable media. The one dollar I paid for it on Steam could have been better spent on nachos. On my death bed, I will mourn the loss of those nachos.
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