Have you ever wondered what would happen if Judge Judy was thrown into space?
Stupid question, I know – of course you have. Luckily, Uphill Promise’s Space Court is there to provide an answer, placing you in the robes of the Space Court’s newest judge who looks suspiciously like a pixel Judge Judy. Space Court is a 2D pixel choose your own adventure style game with a sci-fi twist and initially released back in June 2020 for PC.
The plot is simple enough, even it is a little unclear how our main character came to join the ranks of Space Court. The opening briefing does, however, suggest either a successful application or that you’ve been drafted for some reason or other. Regardless of how your tenure began, you’re the new Judge in what seems to be a long line of predecessors. Judges don’t seem to stick around the Space Court for long – not surprising considering the fact that it’s going to take over six months just to get a gavel. The Space Court is in shambles, your supposed advisor is useless, and you’re left to try and appease everyone and…well, not get everything blown up.
That’s about the extent of the advice your trusty advisor is willing to give.
Court Is in Session
It isn’t long before you get introduced to those who you’ll be dealing with as part of your new job, and I’ll say right now – they’re an interesting bunch.
First, there’s the Commander of the Bloon Empire, a volatile, red, blob-like alien who can’t tell humans apart. Then there’s the friendly but none too bright chief of the Porcs who is so huge he can’t even fit in the room. Next is the Lord Regent of the Floap Monarchy, a jellyfish creature more interested in having the decor updated than the fact that his species is being eaten. Then there’s the Emp ambassador – one of the friendlier and more agreeable out of the bunch, and finally, the Roborts (and yes, that is Roborts, not a typo), a synthetic species more interested in blowing everything up than finding a peaceful solution – oh, and they look a little like Daleks.
The premise of the game is simple enough. As the newly appointed Judge of the Space Court, you listen to each of these characters in turn as they voice their grievances. You’re given a couple of responses to reply with, and those involved will either like or dislike your decision. With some of these problems being shared between two species, you’ll find yourself in the awkward position of trying to keep a balanced stance to avoid offending either race. You could, of course, pick sides, but a Judge is supposed to be objective.
Space Court is a text-based decision game that uses a reputation system. Over the course of a week, you will listen and respond to the aforementioned grievances of the other characters. Depending on your response, each character’s opinion of you will increase or decrease, and while these decisions are all relatively minor, they all contribute to the end result. This is because when it comes down to making the big decisions, certain attempts to resolve things peacefully depend on how individual characters view you – they’re less likely to be agreeable if they dislike you.
The Prosecution Takes the Stand
Unfortunately, Space Court is a very short game, only following our Judge protagonist throughout their first week on the job. It would have been nice to follow their career over a longer period of time.
At less than an hour in length, it can easily be played in one sitting, and while the multiple choices add an element of replayability, there isn’t all that much variation. Admittedly, for just over £2 on Steam, I can’t bring myself to complain too much. Still, it would have been nice to have a little more content, even in the form of paid DLC. Regardless of the ending you get, the grievances of these characters are solved in some way or another, but there is definitely room to introduce new characters with a new set of problems.
The game mechanics themselves were also a little lacking. When you select a dialogue choice that causes a character’s opinion of you to change, the reputation gauge shows up on the screen, but it only remains for a moment. It would have been beneficial if there had been a substantial main menu accessible in-game that displayed such information for later reference, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game in any way.
What did affect my enjoyment, albeit only slightly, was the text when it came to the Robort’s speech. In an attempt to mimic what I assume to be a synthetic voice, much like the Daleks they appear to resemble, the font is a little crazy. I see the intention behind this, but it was a little hard to read at times, and I have pretty good vision, so I can imagine it might be a problem for anyone with any sort of visual impairment.
The Verdict Is In
All in all, Space Court is a hidden gem of a game with a unique style, witty writing and plenty of character. It takes something as normal as court hearings and spices it up by throwing it into space. Both the gameplay and storyline are simple, making it both accessible and something you can enjoy when you’re short on time. My main issue with Space Court, as I mentioned before, was the length, but it’s a good time-killer, and for the price, it’s worth taking a look at.
Developer: Uphill Promise
Publisher: Uphill Promise
Release Date: 25th June 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Space Court was provided by the publisher.