Democracy 3 developed and published by Positech Games (and available on Steam) enlightens players 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 a 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 and where they may have to backpedal on a few political viewpoints, all in the name of the “common good”. Democracy 3 challenges the player with “Do you think you could do a better job?” and from there on out, all is fair in politics and war.
Democracy 3 follows one of the most complex and yet simple storylines of all time, the story of a leading government official and their rise/fall into/from power. The player takes control of a fictional country (based off statistics of a real one such as the USA or UK), names their made up party (and opposition), and then gets to work on attempting to make the country a better place to live in. The storyline is affected by a near infinite number of variables, many of which the player has complete control over. Does the player think creationism should be taught in school? Down with science! What about gun control, how much does the player think there should be? Let the 2nd amendment ride! 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 the player plays out, as well as all subsequent terms the player may be able to wrangle out of the voters. The vast amount of options alone make this game highly replay able and and incredibly intense as the player must watch their government rise or fall.
Choices, choices, choices. Democracy 3 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 on the world of Democracy 3 and the player must take into account every single party affected by one single choice. 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 and fun game to play.
The player will be tested as to how well they can hold their resolve on issues when they realize that the country ultimately disagrees with them, does 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 in an attempt to get them to play without a 100% completion mentality. 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 of fun to be had, as well as enough option to keep all audiences satisfied. A final note to be made 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 is fairly simplistic, but is kind enough to color code outcomes versus policys. 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 the socialist voter base, but remain unsure of what they actually care about. These little helpful icons, as well as the color-coded system do help a lot in making decisions, and while it would be nice to have some animations to visualize the outcomes of the player’s decisions, it’s a minor issue that can ultimately be forgiven. The lack of sound does however 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 the lack of sound is the wonderful 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.
To the casual gamer, it must be said to steer clear of Democracy 3. The game is a very complex and intricate puzzle that requires a lot of patience and determination. To any gamer seeking a true challenge, this will definitely live up to the task, and for any political buff the level of detail and effort put into the mechanics of Democracy 3 will both impress and captivate. Democracy 3 takes one of the most complex concepts on the planet (read: politics) and condenses it into a format that the common folk can (more or less) easily access and comprehend. For the politically savvy, or challenge seeking (as well as those willing to lay down $24.99 for their country), Democracy 3 deserves the player’s vote this holiday season.