I’ve always been intrigued by the Democracy games. On the outside, they don’t really have any wow factor to judge them, but as a simulation game, it could be something very interesting. Politics is something that has been programmed into populations with a 24 hour news cycle. Democracy 3 is the newest game in the series, and since it’s been a while since I’ve personally seen a functioning government, I figured this would be a great reminder of how functioning governments can work.
Democracy 3 is entirely about manipulating variables in an attempt to appease the masses. In your fictitious government, you have the opportunity to be a left leaning socialist or a far right steering conservative. Your polices have positive and negative effects on development in your country, but it is crucial to keep the voting population appeased. Failure to do so can result in losing your re-election or even your assassination.
That is what makes this game sort of interesting. If you look at the screenshots, you can tell this is all just manipulating a number of sliding scales. The made up variables on offer here are what keep things unique as you try to figure out the best way to bring your preset notions of government into fruition. Whatever your economic preferences are, you’ll have the opportunity to try and make them work successfully. You can enter new legislation, change existing orders and or even outright cancel the policy itself, much like any functioning government. You do this as your country’s leader by exercising political capital.
Your political capital isn’t something easy to obtain. To bring in new policies, you then enter another variable that could tip the balance towards your opposition. Tip it too far and a crazy from an underrepresented faction will come out and kill you. The strategy of the game hinges upon this balance and it is Democracy 3‘s big setup.
Democracy 3 is a cluttered mass of variables and changes that requires a true investment from the player. Building political capital is pretty tricky as every action ticks off an opposing faction. So if you want real drastic political change, you really have to build towards it. You don’t really start off in a society that is enamored with you. You won the election, but you have to work to maintain it. I tried for a lame duck presidency and was shot fairly quickly by an ethnic minorities group of extremists. I tried running a green campaign which had me killed by a group of Socialists.
It isn’t easy being the leader, but once you really get the gist of the games mechanics, it sort of starts to fall in line. Fulfilling your job as a likable person means you have to enact legislation that not only boosts the economy, but also public perception. Tazers are great for crime control, but not a whole lot of people like them. Everything is about building up your collateral and Democracy 3 does this pretty well.
Though I’m not going to say that the game gets terribly interesting for those looking to do something other than manipulate variables. You can try a shot at totalitarian control, but you won’t ever be able to run a coup on the electoral process. It still is a game about co-existence inside your country, yet for all the intriguing things that Democracy 3 does, it essentially exists as a means of throwing policies at potential voters to appease polling data.
That’s where I guess the Democracy series will always reside. It is a solid simulation game with a focus on manipulating variables to keep the masses in line. The hardest trick is finding that sweet spot that fits in with your views, but also keeps you alive long enough to get you re-elected. It is tricky, especially with a game full of political policies that will do wonders for your country, but won’t settle well with your internal politics. However, that’s it. You will either tip toe your way to victory, or you’ll be looking over your shoulder for radicals.
If you are a lover of strategy and political mechanisms, there is something here for you in Democracy 3. Those that don’t want to analyze quarterly reports, can probably sit this one out.
[+Solid Execution of Concept] [+Clever Policies] [+Interesting Mods] [-Some Grammar Issues] [-Cluttered Mechanisms]