This Is The Police tells the story of Jack Boyd, the outgoing police chief of the fictional town of Freeburg. The game begins just after Boyd's 60th birthday when, quite unexpectedly, he received word that he's being forced into retirement against his wishes.
After over 30 years on the force where he played by the rules and enforced the law the way he was meant to, Boyd realizes that he's got nearly nothing to show for it. So, Boyd does what any head of a corrupt police department would do with his last 180 days in charge: he goes crooked to make all the money he can.
"Over the next six months, he’ll be going all out to fulfill a dream: earn half a million dollars, anyway he can," Weappy Studio, This Is The Police's developer, described in its Kickstarter pitch earlier this year. "Even with overtime, in six months he wouldn’t make fifty grand. But a police chief has access to all sorts of… informal income."
This Is The Police invites players into the sort of cop-gone-bad narrative that we're all familiar with, but forces you into the position of a semi-sympathetic character working from the inside. Boyd's primary goal may be to skim half a million dollars from the city, but he's also still tasked with keeping the streets of Freeburg safe.
When players aren't arranging deals with the Mafia or taking cuts from drug deals happening in plain sight, they have to make decisions about the corrupt police force that Boyd's in charge of. Forcing an officer out into the field even though you know he's got a drinking problem may result in the shooting of an unarmed, innocent bystander.
Some of This Is The Police's scenes and plot elements toe the line between being a simple video game and social commentary. For all of its melodramatic, noir elements, the game frequently touches on the kind of real-world, institutional misconduct responsible for the recent wave of police brutality here in the US.
Your job as a player is to decide whether letting it happen is worth your own financial security.
Pushing back against Boyd is a curious press that knows just how rotten the Freeburg PD is and is committed to pressing him for as much information as they can in their pursuit of the truth.
Even though Boyd's main goal is to retire with his pockets well-lined, fighting the press and managing unscrupulous cops aren't all the cop has to deal with.
Prosperous as Freeburg is, it's being torn apart by the trade unions, corporations, and the powerful church all vying to control the city. As easy as it would be to just become one of the crooks, the point of This Is The Police is to form strategic alliances.
"If you finish the game broke and out of work, don’t feel too bad," Weappy described. "You might have ended the game in prison, or with a bullet in your guts."