Has there ever been a time when you think you could run the country better then the current government? Well then, democracy 3 is going to take you up on that. Best explained as a political strategy game, that places you in charge of one of 6 countries, The UK, The USA, Canada, Australia, Germany or France. Placing you situations that you would expect the leader of your selected country to face, from high crime rates, recession and unemployment, to extreme Capitalist that will attempt to assassinate you if you really anger them enough. So is this game really as exciting as it sounds?
Developed and published by Positech Games, Democracy 3 tries to shine a light to the complexities of the most intense job on the planet, running a country, specifically a democracy. Interestingly Democracy 3 breaks down the job of running a country into (more or less) three basic concepts: managing your cabinet, enacting policies and trying to get reelected. The player must make use of the limited time/political resources at their disposal to decide what problems are best spent tackling in that quarter and where they may have to backpedal on a few political viewpoints, all in the name of the “common good”.
The game follows one of the most complex and yet simple of storylines, the story of a leading government official and their rise/fall into/from power. You pick a country to run, you choose your opposition, then you get to work on making the country a better place in your eyes. The storyline is then affected by a near infinite number of variables, many of which the player has complete control over. From Creationism only being taught in schools, to gun control being implemented. All of these factors (along with random occurrences, such as possible economic disasters or even bills attempting to be passed) create a dynamic and complex story of the term or terms the player plays out. The vast amount of options alone make this game highly replayable and incredibly intense as the player must watch their government rise or fall. Plus with the Social Engineering DLC that has just come out for it that includes new dilemmas and policies which allow you to exert subtle change upon your country. A total of 26 completely new policies and 8 new dilemmas are available, regardless what country you are playing from this DLC.
The gameplay is really where the game shines, it dishes out the choices fast and furious, while allowing only so many to be made per round (a period of several months in which the choices have time to take effect and alter the country for better or worse). Every “round” the player must weigh out where to spend their political power (points given based on cabinet members as well as how well the country is doing) and then spend said points to alter policies or change around their cabinet as they see fit. These choices have a huge impact and the player must take into account every single party affected by one single choice. For example, Altering gun control laws isn’t simply a matter of liberal versus conservative, but will also alter the opinions of patriots and socialists as well as state employees and minority voters. This complex series of outcomes from the simplest of decisions is what truly makes Democracy 3 a challenging game to play.
The real challenge, just like real life, is if the player can hold their resolve on issues when they realize that the country ultimately disagrees with them, will the player simply buckle and reverse a policy, or do they give up on other beliefs in order to pacify the masses? While the gameplay is complicated to a point of near absurdity, it’s more or less the point of Democracy 3, the vast amount of options and inability to keep everyone happy is something the game itself warns the player of, so that they don’t go in to the game trying to 100% it. On top of all this, such options as unlimited terms (as well as “dictatorship” mode) allow for a varied gameplay experience which should give the player plenty to do. Another thing that needs to be mentioned is the modding community which already appears to be fairly strong, such additions as “Hunger Game” add a bit of hilarity as well as new challenges to overcome, the prospect of trying to maintain a democratic government while also enforcing a Hunger Games is truly a daunting one at that.
The layout makes the game seem a bit simpler to play, being kind enough to color code outcomes versus policies. Hovering over an icon will show the other aspects of society that will be affected by its change, which serves as a helpful cheat-sheet when attempting to sway a certain group of voters. These little helpful icons, as well as the color-coded system do help a lot in making decisions, the only minor problem that is that the game could do with a bit more animation in it, especially when most of the time you will be sat in front of a screen as displayed above . Also the lack of sound effects does drain from Democracy 3 overall. While there are some cheers and murmuring sound effects (when a cabinet member is fired for instance), ultimately the lack of sound effects does seem lazy. What makes up for this, is the background music. A great piece that is half triumphant, half thoughtful, it adds a great flair of emotion to the decisions being made, what could come off as a triumphant note as the player watches their ratings skyrocket, could also be taken as a dramatic influx of tension in the score as a policy goes south.
Well, just like most strategy games, this game isn’t really for casual gamers, you really have to sit down and spend sometime getting through the game. Plus it is highly complex and extremely challenging to, not only keep your people happy, but to make it to the next election. But then if you are a fan of politics or even looking for a highly challenging game to play then this is for you, personally myself I am not a fan of it, but then I am not really interested in politics in the first place. Plus the modding side, like most games on steam, does give this game a whole new dimension in how to play it. The main downsides to this game, the lack of animation plus the length of time you will have to play it to get anywhere in the game is hard to not ignore. Plus even though the complexity of the game makes it challenging, it can be seen as very off-putting to a mass gaming market.