Few games come around that are as wickedly stylish as Fashion Police Squad. It may seem like a heavily inspired DOOM-like, but it’s so much more.
It’s a 2.5D game that pays homage to classic video game titles, both figuratively and literally. It does this with the concept that dull people in the world need to be made fabulous through fashion makeovers.
Only the indie game space could allow a game like this to exist. It’s a self-aware first-person shooter that exudes cleverness in its overall design and writing.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, or it wouldn’t work.
Slaying Fashion Crimes
Fashion Police Squad (“FPS” for short) centers on an organization of the same name. Their mission is to fight all fashion crimes across Trendopolis.
The city is seeing an increase in dull clothing and advertisements. The suave Sergeant Des must uncover the cause of this fashion disaster.
Fashion Police Squad presents itself as a DOOM-like. Weapons and enemies appear as pixelated 2D sprites in a 3D environment. A sprite of Des’ head even appears in the lower corner and reacts to damage and health levels like the original DOOM.
The presentation feels retro in other ways as well. Its movement and weapon sway strangely have a Goldeneye feel to them. In addition, the soundtrack feels inspired by early Street Fighter titles.
It’s advertised as a non-violent FPS, which is an accurate assessment. You won’t be shooting enemies with actual bullets. But instead, projectiles will solve individual fashion crimes. For example, enemies wearing neon colors need to have the saturation sucked out of them with a shotgun-type weapon. The same weapon, aptly named 2DYE-4, can also dye enemies wearing dull clothing.
Shooting enemies with the right weapon results in them getting a much-needed makeover once their health is depleted. It’s never explained why enemies like Karen’s in potato sack dresses are attacking you. But does there really need to be an explanation for a game like this?
Des goes mission to mission, trying to figure out who’s turning the town grey. Many of his conversations are with his FPS partner Hayley, who helps with tutorial gameplay and drops hints about enemy weaknesses. The two eventually run into a mysterious informant in a trench coat named “Deep Coat,” who will play an essential role in the narrative.
Each mission is broken down into separate checkpoints with enemy encounters and traversal between them. Des can use his belt, called the Belt of Justice, to swing from flag poles during specific platforming segments. The mechanic is fun when it works and irritating when it doesn’t. It sometimes requires too precise of ing when swinging from pole to pole in succession. Luckily the game reloads quickly if you fall to your death from a missed swing.
That same belt can be used to break open item boxes. Inside those boxes may be health-replenishing martinis or “swag.” These items come in the form of bow ties and watches and add armor to your health.
At the end of each mission, every enemy you saved from their fashion crime appears as a model in a runway show to display their new look. In addition, this sequence displays your mission stats, like completion time and how many fashion crimes were solved. These stats, paired with the game’s speed, will surely make it popular in the speedrunning community.
A series of 3 missions typically ends in a boss battle that requires you to switch back and forth between your weapons. These were some of the most challenging and special parts of the game. Health regen items weren’t always guaranteed and required additional strategy than typical enemy encounters.
Wardrobe of weapons
Fashion Police Squad’s arsenal of weapons is one of the most memorable I’ve seen in a video game.
Gun combat revolves around a system similar to rock-paper-scissors. Some weapon types will be effective against an enemy type, while others won’t deal any damage. For example, the dye-loaded shotgun will be effective against dull clothing but have no effect against enemies in ill-fitting clothing. The sock gnome weapon will steal the socks from the tourist enemy type that wears socks and sandals. The gnomes will be ineffective against most other enemy types.
This system works both to the benefit and detriment of Fashion Police SquadFirst. First, it prevents being able to mow down a horde of fashion crimes with just one weapon. Instead, you have to incorporate strategy into your crowd control.
This can lead to frustrating moments when multiple fashion crimes exist in a crowded and sometimes compact space. It becomes worse when there are enemy types that require the use of various weapons to defeat one. All of this can lead to a very busy-looking screen that can feel overwhelming.
The glove on Des’ right hand, The Fab Glove, can one-shot enemies for 15 seconds once the Fab Meter is full. It’s imbued with some sort of magic that can solve any fashion crime. That meter slowly fills over time as you defeat enemies.
The Fab Glove is a cool mechanic at the beginning of the game. Sadly the coolness wears off quickly. WhTheame seems to spawn endless enemies when the Fab Meter is full til you use the Fab Glove. This often puts you in a corner and forces you to use the mechanic.
The writing is the star of the show
Fashion Police Squad works so well because of the cleverness in its writing. It’s plentiful with meta humor, references to other media, and Gen Z lingo.
Levels are adorned in fashion slang, puns, and play-on-words. I applauded the thoughtfulness and creativity that went into this writing consistently during my playthrough.
As alluded to earlier, Des’ weapons are ingenious fashion references, and most enemy types are exaggerated stereotypes. For example, one enemy type is a young college graduate in a suit that’s too tight. They quickly teleport from one place to another and drop “CV bombs.”
The writing lands most of the time, while other times, it feels forced and borderline cringe. Fortunately, the weaker writing doesn’t overstay its welcome in most cases. Most conversations between characters are relatively brief.
To the game’s benefit, there is no voice acting o,r else the game would have a completely different feel. Also, it would be difficult for the silly writing to translate to actual human beings saying things like “slay” and “uWu.”
Games like Fashion Police Squad are one reason why I love this medium so much. Its core concept and gameplay can only work as a video game. You could not shoot someone with a sewing machine gun in a movie and make it work.
It pays homage to classic video games while being a memorable title in its own right. It’s a uniquely fun FPS when it’s not overwhelming. And it has a level of witty writing and creative gameplay design that deserves to be praised.