In life you find people who put themselves through the worst experiences you can imagine like ultra marathons, swimming the English Channel and climbing Everest just to ‘push themselves’ or to get out of their ‘comfort zone’. When the Codec Moments team were called on to review Democracy 3: Electioneering by Positech I answered the call. I decided to take myself to the limit and beyond. I put myself in a place where no one can hear you scream – yes, I took on a political based simulation game!!
To put this into perspective, my standard gaming genres include first person, shooters and football games. Even the little puzzle bits in Watch_Dogs had me losing the will to live, so faced with reviewing a game of this type is a battle to stay focused, but also to play Democracy 3: Electioneering without any prejudice because nothing was blowing up and I wasn’t being shot at from a zillion yards away. To start you choose your nationality; I went for British – God Save the Queen and all that. I even managed to get halfway through the help tutorials which gave me the overview I needed to get stuck in an run/ruin the country.
Giving Democracy 3: Electioneering its credit, the way it is set up is excellent, I can’t fault the way it presents what is clearly a monumental amount of information in a relatively simple fashion. Simple yes, but definitely not basic, more of an intuitive way of collating information and showing the links to other factors it has an effect on. Even for me who only has a passing interest in politics was able to grasp the general rules for running a country; try to keep everyone happy, balance the books and try and avoid being overthrown in a political coup. You have 20 voter types you need to please; these include farmers, parents, middle income types, and many more who have specific criteria for their home to make them happy bunnies. Your hard work throughout the term will see these groups vote or not vote for you at the next election.
Things that affect the country and the general happiness of your voters come in the form of polices that you can implement or adjust using Capital Points. You are limited to a certain number of Capital points per turn (which is a 3 month period in-game), and you have to plan a little in terms of what you want to do and when. Policies will not only have a direct effect on certain groups, but they will also have an effect on a number of other policies that will then in turn positively or negatively affect other groups. It doesn’t take long to work out what are the best ways of doing things as logic tends to prevail. Policies fall under several headings like transportation and the economy, and policies will link to other categories. For example, increasing alcohol tax will please the Capitalist as it increases productivity, but it will displease the youth as they don’t have as much money.
I feel like you are playing against yourself much of the time rather than a supposed opposition party because the game is pretty easy to be successful by staying in the job even if you aren’t doing so well. I managed to take the country from a good economic position with low crime and good health service with an over 80% share of the votes, to pretty much the opposite of this and won the next election with ease. OK, the capitalists wanted me out and there was a threat of a coup, but I was still sitting pretty.
To summarise, I can’t fault the mechanics in Democracy 3: Electioneering or how it looks, I couldn’t suggest how to make a political simulator look or play any better than it does. The question is do you really want to play this type of game? I think it is a little easy, and for the casual Andrew Marr viewer it would present not much of a challenge other than to create different situations for yourself out of curiosity. For a hardcore political strategist you probably already have a job in politics and have no time for games unless it’s the Olympics at the taxpayer expense!
A Mac review copy of Democracy 3: Electioneering was provided by Positech’s PR team, and the game is available now on Steam.