Contraband Police Review: An Entertaining Ride Along with Suspicious Officers

Strange yet addictive, Contraband Police is a hoot.

Contraband Police, developed by CrazyRocks and published by PlayWay S.A., is an interesting first-person game where players become a border patrol agent set in a fictional 1980s Eastern Europe. 

Well, I never thought I’d be sitting here reviewing a game about becoming a border agent in a fictional Soviet Union, but here we are. I could pretentiously quip about how video game developers have run out of ideas by relating this title with other “quirky” titles like Lawn Mower Simulator, but doing so would be surprisingly disingenuous in this case. 

Throughout the 15 hours of gameplay it took me to beat Contraband Police, I’ve got to say — I had a pretty good time. 

The Gameplay

Here’s how it works. Players stand at the border, inspect cars, check immigration papers, and snoop around to find contraband. Ultimately, this all leads to a choice, and players must decide whether to allow the person in or deny entry. 

In each Chapter, new stipulations are added, and new smugglers with specific features are added to your board. Some citizens are just regular people looking to make it into your country, while others have more nefarious goals. Players are given cash for sniffing out the contraband and are penalized for letting the wrong person in or keeping the wrong person out. 

Finding Contraband Contraband Police

Over time, you’ll be given more missions, some of which force you away from the border patrol station and into the open world of Contraband Police. While this isn’t Red Dead Redemption or Grand Theft Auto levels of open world, it is surprisingly large for a small indie game, with different locations players will be tasked with visiting throughout their playthrough. These additional missions serve as a way to break up the monotony of checking visitors at the border. 

The prospect of checking immigration documents and double and triple-checking imported goods probably doesn’t sound like every gamer’s cup of tea. Still, the game introduces you to all the concepts naturally, adding new things to check after every Chapter and slowly ramping up the difficulty and information players need to cross-reference to make the right choice. The game never felt too hard, and we played through the entire campaign mode without restarting a mission more than once or twice. 

Plenty of Meme-Worthy Moments

Contraband Police is fun. It has many meme-worthy moments that will put a smile on your face or make you outright laugh. After playing through it, at least for me, it felt devastating to make a mistake on an inspection, and it never really felt too boring, save a few areas here and there. 

Some of the missions are pretty interesting, especially when they force the player out of the typical gameplay loop of checking documents. Without spoiling the game, there’s a portion where players must solve a murder mystery, and it feels more like Sherlock Holmes than a border agent game. There’s also a portion of the game where you get to shoot out of the back of a moving van, which gave me some nostalgic “on-rails shooter” vibes.

Interrogating Suspect Contraband Police

On the surface, there are two divergent paths players can take. One siding with “The People” and one siding with the government. However, these “choices” merely change a cut scene or two and have minor impacts on your overall game. That being said, there are two endings depending on the player’s decisions. While this addition of choice feels a bit underdeveloped, the feelings of choice still manage to give the player a sense of agency, improving immersion. 

Do you want to be the good cop or the dirty cop?

Players can also upgrade their base with a bigger prison and more storage space or gear out their border control guards with deadlier weapons. This was a surprising aspect of the game that motivated me to find every little thing wrong during each inspection, as your pay is tied to how accurate you are. 

The game’s overall concept might seem silly, but at least it’s original. With so many titles just copying and pasting established gameplay loops and reskinning them with a different title, Contraband Police is a pretty unique game and nails the feeling of being a border agent. The length feels good, and the game ends before the border inspection part feels ardious. 

Rough Around the Edges

Though I did say that the game never gets boring, some parts did feel somewhat tedious. While ripping apart a car for illicit materials felt rewarding, inspecting vehicles for damage, matching passport stationaries, or confirming car types felt a bit like a slog. At first, it was challenging and engaging, but after the 40th car, it felt too routine. This is amplified by the fact that you can’t automatically check some info by clicking the corresponding data — you need to visually and manually confirm that it’s a match which requires cross-referencing with your employee manual. 

Shooting feels terrible; it ranks as having one of the worst “first-person-shooter” mechanics in an FPS. The shooting in the game is equivalent to Day of Defeat circa 2003, but this is 20 years later, so even for an indie game, I’d expect just a bit more. There’s no real responsive feedback, so it feels like you’re shooting an airsoft gun, and with no feeling of impact, it makes the whole affair feel like a mobile game. 

Combat in Contraband Police

This aspect wouldn’t be so bad in a game like this, either, except that some portions turn into a horde game where you’re tasked with taking out wave after wave of Eastern European thugs. Because there’s no real threat and, therefore, no stakes from these AI mobs, the whole thing feels like it could have been taken out of the game at no loss. 

There weren’t any game-breaking glitches or bugs that I experienced, but some things, like having multiple save files, could be introduced to improve the overall quality of life. However, there also aren’t other game modes or divergent storylines, really, so it’s not very important here.

Last thing — and I hate to make the cons list longer than the pros since I genuinely enjoyed playing, but adding some variety or randomness in each of the visitors could help the game with replayability. I’m not sure if drug locations always remain the same, but I noticed that the smugglers would always drive the same car, and each visitor remains static regardless of whether it’s your first or second playthrough. This makes running through the game a second time to choose the other story path boring. 

Final Verdict

Contraband Police is a quirky, fun, indie game where players get to realize the realities of living a somewhat mundane life as a border agent in alternate 1980s Soviet Russia. Even though checking immigration papers sounds more like a job than a game, the core gameplay loop is fun and doesn’t get boring.

The game truly shines in its campaign missions, where players must investigate harsher crimes away from the border patrol station, and in its upgrade mechanics and open world, which are surprisingly deep for a game of this scope. Though somewhat short at around 15 hours long, Contraband Police is a solid indie title that will keep you occupied and coming back to complete the next chapter. 

Contraband Police Review

Garrett Ettinger

Sound Design


Contraband Police is a fun first-person indie game full of laughs and surprisingly addictive gameplay. While rough around the edges, this indie title will surprise you in more ways than one.


Contraband Police is on Steam.

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Reviewed on PC.