Democracy 3 ReviewPC
key review info
- Game: Democracy 3
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: No
- Reviewed on:
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Democracy is messy, the worst way of conducting the affairs of a nation apart from all others available, according to as capable of a politician as Winston Churchill.
In video game form, the statement remains very much true, but at the same time, Democracy 3, the video game created by Positech Games, manages to be extremely informative, fun to play and the kind of experience that might actually generate civic engagements.
The core ideas of the title are simple: gamers can choose from a variety of countries, pick a set of parameters, as well as names for their political party and then simply govern, making their country better, while also making sure that they are popular enough to win the next elections.
Then, a wall of complexity rises up, in the form of the beautiful but somewhat scary interface of Democracy 3.
Basically, the screen shows all areas of government, all measures currently enacted and all their effects, as well as providing a snapshot of the way various groups of voters feel about the party in power.
It’s hard to make sense of the information at first and many players will probably feel the urge to abandon the experience at this point, but it’s worth sticking with it and making the simplest possible choice; just click on one of the spherical balloons that contain symbols.
It will be expanded to offer more information and gamers also get an option to move a slider that affects funding or policy implementation.
This is done by spending Political Points that are generated based on the members of the cabinet and their loyalty to the political party that’s in power.
Every quarter of a calendar year, all statistics of Democracy 3 are re-calculated and gamers can get a hint of how the policies they have implemented are affecting the country and then they are free to once again tweak government to make everything better.
For even more information, buttons in the top right corner offer access to extensive polling, clear breakdowns of the income and expenditure of the country and access to a number of measures that can be implemented to quickly change political course.
This might sound dry, like playing with spreadsheets, but Democracy 3 is exciting, a game where a player needs to constantly balance rewards and costs in order to achieve his own unique vision for the perfect country, while finding the support of enough voters to stay in power.
I was voted out of office after the first terms, I have been assassinated a few times, I have managed to successfully steer both the UK and the US towards prosperity and social democratic paradise only a few times.
Democracy 3 is rather easy to understand, after spending some time with its charts, potential decisions, political events and dilemmas, but neatly impossible to master.
There is never enough money to go around and the voters will always be split into groups that cannot be reconciled, which means that even the “best” policies (who can argue against smoking bans?) will generate resentment at some level.
I tended to do best in Germany, where I basically dominated the political landscape for about twenty years by simply eradicating all social evils and creating a prosperous economy despite having to deal with a constant brain drain.
I tried a similar set of tactics in the United States and I was assassinated during my hard won second term by a group of liberals who were very annoyed by the fact that I was buffing up the intelligence services to tackle organized crime.
The difference in results is a testament to how well Democracy 3 manages to show the variety of situations and problems that appear in countries that might seem similar, but actually pose challenges that do not resemble one another.
The game also has a very clean and bright design, offering loads of information at each step, and giving gamers all the options they can use grouped together.
The interface might seem daunting at first, but it manages to cramp a government simulation in a relatively limited space and I am still amazed at how easily one can see the many connections between policies and other variables.
The sound design is less impressive and the music can become repetitive, but we’re here to make citizens happy, not to push the arts forward.
Democracy 3 is a complex, at times beautiful, challenging game and I will not rest until I manage to turn even the US into a socialist utopia.