If you can’t tell by the title, the graphics, the gameplay, the story, or whatever else, I want to make this clear. NotCoD is not Call of Duty. Is that a bad thing? Of course not, but this parody sidescrolling shooter does just make me want to play Call of Duty instead.
I shouldn’t need to start off by saying NotCoD – Episode 1: Call of Judy is a bad game. I feel like a simple look at the game is enough to tell you that. The real question is if it can hit that more difficult level of “so bad it’s good”. The short answer to that one is no: NotCoD is just bad. Sometimes it’s funny, but there’s more frustrating here that doesn’t let those funny moments through.
Call of Judy puts you in the role of Private Suds Sudzington Jr., who shows up at the village of St. Bumley on the Taint to break into its church, kill Reverend Murdoch, and find a file on a mysterious woman named Judy. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as even that one sentence description makes it sound. Call of Judy almost feels like it wants to be an episode of South Park, and it manages to hit some pretty entertainingly funny moments at times. Emerging from a World War 2 scenario has characters commenting that the reenactments actors probably weren’t expecting them to bring real bullets, while a tour through Murdoch’s church sees him going on about how much God loves rich people, to the point of making stain glass windows about it. While these jokes are funny, they’re often between a bunch of jokes about dicks, asses, and vaginas. Those jokes are repetitive and feel like the kind you can see just by browsing random internet forums.
Before I start moving into the gameplay, which I can warn you ahead of time will be a lot of negatives, I want to give a special shout out to the game’s sound design and soundtrack. Everything in NotCoD, from the soundtrack to the noises everything makes, is done acapella. For example, rifles make a hilarious “pew pew” sound when you shoot them. The explosions are people going “blam”, the radio static is someone’s best interpretation of static with their mouths, and the music is a group of people singing about the virtues of the turret you’re currently using. It’s by far and away the best part of NotCoD.
To experience the few funny story moments and the game’s sound design you have to play it, and this is where it all falls apart. NotCoD is a 2D side-scrolling shooter where all you have to do is move from left to right and shoot everything along the way. That’s easy enough, though the game likes to throw swarms of enemies at you and have difficult due to overwhelming numbers and bullets flying your way, rather than due to anything else. To fight back, you get a variety of weapons, most of which aren’t worth using once you get the Uzi/shotgun combo that is just noticeably better than everything else.
You’ll be shooting at World War 2 reenactment actors, boy scouts, nuns, rats, demons, paparazzi, and a host of other enemies. While it sounds varied, all enemies use the same tactics: walk slowly towards the player while shooting haphazardly in their direction. Every combat encounter required little more than running in circles and shooting towards the enemy until they died. Even though Call of Judy only lasts about 2 hours, I was already bored with the gameplay long before I got to the end.
There’re only two real sections that change-up the normal gameplay. An on-rails segment about halfway through the game sees you going down a track in a mine cart, having to shoot other approaching carts and switches that send you down other tracks to avoid deadly obstacles. I never actually found the switches easy to hit, often seeming to require more accuracy than my guns could provide. It led to a frustrating segment that, again, wasn’t much fun to play. The other change is the final boss, a strangely long romp (I think it seriously took me about twenty minutes) that seemed to be based around getting a tiny amount of time to whittle away his massive health bar after figuring out and enacting an annoying strategy to take out his shield.
A lot of the frustrations I had were also extended to the game’s poor camera. The camera keeps you on the far side of whichever way you’re facing, but if you turn around it takes quite a bit of time to adjust. Because it adapts slower than you move, it’s pretty easy to get stuck running blindly forward or waiting for the camera to readjust itself so you can see again. It’s an annoyance that could have easily been fixed by either keeping the player in the middle or moving the camera a little faster when they turned.
There’re also a few minigames at the beginning that involve a shooting gallery, and throwing a sponge. Both of the aren’t noteworthy on their own, but they do lead to the game’s many technical issues. Both minigames, without fail, crashed the game every time I finished either one. Technical issues would continue to plague my time with the game. Enemies would become stuck or non-respondent. The stats screen never worked at any point, as I had apparently already completed 100% of the game upon start-up even though I was back down to 0/5 turret sections completed whenever I entered a new level. Achievements only unlocked on occasion, and it was a shot in the dark as to why. One part played a sound clip hundreds of times at once which was horrifying to listen to, and another continuously looped a character saying “You’re not supposed to be here, mate” every fifteen seconds. That last one actually may have been intentional, but it was still quite annoying.
After I had finished Call of Judy, I gained access to an extra Zombie Survival mode. It’s pretty similar to the popular mode featured in many Call of Duty games: you have to survive waves of zombies and use the cash you earn to buy new weapons so you can survive better. It plays just like the normal game does, just with upgrades you can buy. You can, however, play it split screen which is a nice addition. Annoyingly, if you play it alone, then you’re forced into a strange aspect ratio that leaves a solid half of the screen black. There’s also an “Online Multiplayer Simulation” that you unlock, but the joke here is that you’re killed as soon as you spawn by a player with an inappropriate name. It’s just that over and over.
NotCoD – Episode 1: Call of Judy can be funny sometimes and has some fantastic sound design and music. However, it’s tough to recommend playing it since it’s just simply not fun. If you want some South Park styled laughs, then there’s a fantastic South Park video game you should check out. Once you’re done with that, maybe someone will have made a Lets Play of NotCoD to watch instead of having to play it yourself.
NotCoD – Episode 1: Call of Judy was reviewed on Steam using a copy provided by the developer.
NotCoD is sometimes funny and fun to listen to, but that doesn't overcome its tediousness and technically incompetence.