I admit to never being a fan of the likes of Counter-Strike, Rainbow Six, or other games/franchises that tend to place a lot of emphasis on tactical FPS squad-versus-squad deathmatches. But when a new one is being published by Annapurna Interactive, of all people, one has to pay attention. Aside from being released by a publisher with an amazing track record so far, it notably seems to stand out from the likes of their other games such as Gorogoa or What Remains of Edith Finch, which had a much larger emphasis on narrative. And while Due Process does indeed have a backdrop concerning a dystopian alternate future with various dissidents taking on task forces, it’s the fast-paced gunfight action that takes center stage here, delivering a ton of thrills.
In order to achieve those thrills, Seattle-based developers Giant Enemy Crab only had to make two notable additions to the formula. The first was having all of the maps be procedurally generated, switching up the layouts, room locations, and entry points each time. The second was adding a planning stage where players get to draw on the screen, described as being a playbook-style way to determine exactly what approach your team would like to take, and what weapons they choose to bring in. Simply by reading the description, you may not immediately believe how relatively small changes like these can shake things up. But I assure you, they do indeed make a noticeable impact.
During the demo we played, a team of five enforcers had to break into a building occupied by five rebels about to set off a bomb, and disarm it in the process. But as the map was randomized, we had to quickly get used to it in the limited time we had available. Both sealed and unsealed entrances were highlighted, as were breakable walls, in case explosives may be involved, and power sources. While we each got a chance to play offense and defense, the strategy was similar for either side: Plan to set up an effective strike/perimeter while attempting to predict the opponent’s moves, like a classic game of chess. I mean, it’s chess that quickly went off the rails when our plans went south and we had to improvise, but still.
There are other factors you also have to get used to, such as the fact that enforcers only have a limited amount of ammo and weapons that carry over all three rounds, so you need be careful in choosing who gets what, or that enforcers can also see two of the three weapons that the defensive team is choosing. It’s little touches like that which add an extra, nifty bit of strategy to everything, alongside helpful bits like having the lines drawn on the map actually appear in-game in their blocky form to guide you. Speaking of which, we may as well talk about the graphics, which are stylistically a bit more low-poly and designed to resemble arcade shooters of the late ’90s, from when the tactical FPS genre was getting started. And be it a simple warehouse or a convenience store with an arcade to lurk in, they all look quite colorful and impressive.
So between the unique element of planning that adds more strategy, a near-endless amount of well-designed maps, effective retro aesthetics, and a wide variety of weapons to experiment with, Due Process definitely not only has what it takes to be the next great tactical FPS, but even just a damn good shooter in general that anyone can pick up and play. It may seem like a slight oddity for Annapurna, but one we’re glad they took the time to invest in. No release window has been announced yet, but expect Due Process out for the PC (and other possible platforms) in the future, and make sure to keep an eye out for it.