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The tactical shooter is one of the most popular video game genres on the planet, but also one of the industry’s least accessible. Hundreds of thousands of people jump into rounds of “Rainbow Six: Siege,” “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” and “Valorant” every day. These exceedingly popular games are also known to be some of the most punishing: new players often find themselves at the mercy of veterans who have already mastered the various maps, weapons and characters of the game, and find themselves discouraged by abusive chats.
Enter “Due Process.”
Published by developers Giant Enemy Crab (GEC), “Due Process” bills itself as the arcade answer to the hardcore tactical shooter. With a vibrant retro aesthetic taking stylistic cues from classic works like “Robocop,” “Ghost in the Shell” and “Blade Runner,” “Due Process” certainly stands out visually from its competitors whose characters are mostly variations on “guy wearing ski mask,” but it’s fallen under the radar since its Steam Early Access release in 2020.
The core premise of the game is not unlike that of its competitors. Two teams of five players compete to either defuse or defend a bomb at the center of the map. Teams have access to various firearms and utility items like flash grenades and barbed wire to hinder their opponents. Most guns kill quickly, taking just a few shots to down an opponent.
What makes “Due Process” stand out mechanically is its maps. In “Counter Strike,” maps like de_dust have existed for a decade and have remained unchanged since their release. The layout of the maps have since been memorized and analyzed for prime ambush and sniping positions. In this way, “Counter Strike” is a science, experimentally proven and tested time and time again.
“Due Process” turns the tactical map on its head by introducing randomness into every map. Map archetypes exist: The “Convenience Store” maps will always have storefronts and “Banks” will always have vaults, but the placement of those rooms varies from match to match. This eliminates the advantage of map memorization and puts new players on equal footing, encouraging moment-to-moment planning and tactical guesswork as opposed to mechanical perfection. It’s a genius system made all the better by the planning phase of each round that allows players to draw strategies (or characters from “Among Us,” or more inappropriate icons) directly onto the tactical map.
“Due Process” simply oozes style. Instead of buying weapons from a menu, you pick them up off the wall, insert magazines and rack slides with the stylish and satisfying clack sound. You can customize both your menacing attacker avatars and scrappy defender avatars, personalizing both cop and criminal. The groovy soundtrack composed by Santino Romeri tops it all off.
It would be a stretch to suggest “Due Process” ever overtakes “Counter Strike” or “Valorant” in popularity, but it deserves its place on the tactical shooter pyramid as an alternative to the grim, stuffy lobbies of either of those games. Its central map system and unique style are what really make it My Jam, and I encourage anyone frustrated with being bullied out of “Counter Strike” lobbies or overwhelmed by the complexity of “Valorant” to check it out.
Thumbnail is a screenshot of IGN's review of Due Process.