Rough Justice ‘84 Review

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

The year is 1984. Ghostbusters is ruling the box office. Prince released his rock and roll magnum opus album Purple Rain. The Ghostbusters video game has just released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. And Jim Baylor has just been released from prison. The wrongfully disgraced former detective’s been locked up for a long time, and he’s ready to get back out on the streets. He only has $2,500 to his name, but he wants to make more, so he starts an agency. Rough Justice ‘84 puts you in charge of this agency. This agency and whatever is left of Baylor’s name will rise or fail based on your management of it.

Rough Justice ‘84 is a management simulator game. You are in charge of an agency that specializes in the repossession of vehicles, private investigation, and bounty hunting. The $2,500 goes to the hiring of your first employee. You’ll pick your employee and then send them out into the port city of Seneca to start earning you cash one job at a time.

Each agent you choose has different specialties, I ended up choosing a cool looking guy named Slick as my first agent and immediately sent him out into the city to complete his first contract, which ended up being a towing job for a repossessed vehicle. The gameplay of Rough Justice is simple, you’re given a big map of the city with a ton of contracts available. You click on the one you want to do, read the details, select the agent or agents you want to send out, and then watch over them as their little icon drives across the map to complete the objective. Occasionally while on a mission your characters will need some input from you to decide the best course of action they should follow to finish the job. In my experience, these choices don’t mean much. In my time with the game I never had a job fail no matter what choice I picked with which character. The only meaningful thing that I had changed with these choices was occasionally one would lead to a minigame that I had to complete. These little bites of gameplay like lockpicking were pretty fun if a bit simplistic. As you build capital you can afford to hire more agents, buy them goodies at the office to keep them happy, and eventually become a major player in Seneca.

The game is still early in development and I expect many of the game’s shortcomings like the lack of meaningful choices to change before it actually releases in late 2021. As it is, the game looks great. The character and map design are fantastic. The whole game has this bright neon look that is very 80’s nostalgia and quite pleasing to look at. There’s even some pretty good voice acting that is sparingly used but very welcome. The worst thing about me with the game was that it was cut short due to glitches. At a certain point, Slick just stopped in the middle of the road while out on patrol and he stayed there with a buffering sign over his head, completely unable to be interacted with. A few minutes later the same thing happened with my second agent. Two of my three agents were stuck in limbo while the third had nothing to do as after a while I simply stopped having any contracts pop up and I was forced to quit the game. After restarting the same thing happened again and I was essentially soft-locked.

Again I have to stress that the game isn’t even due to release for over a full year, so there’s plenty of time for these issues to be addressed. On the Steam page, the developers have made it very clear that the game is in a buggy pre-release state and many things are intended to be cleaned up or changed entirely by release. As it is, I do think that Rough Justice ‘84 has all the makings of an indie hit, a clever tone, a beautiful art style, and simple but engaging gameplay. I can’t wait to see what this game looks like next year.

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