Democracy 3 is the follow-up to the acclaimed Democracy 2, a political simulator. However, unlike Democracy 2, this Democracy involves real-world countries with their own different needs to be balanced through manipulating different policies and law. There are also a few add-ons for this game, which really do enhance the experience of being a country’s leader.
Honestly, beyond the opening line of “you have been elected leader of this country, now get re-elected”, there is no story at all in this game.
The background music is suitably “prime ministerial” material, and fits the general atmosphere well enough – it isn’t overwhelming in volume either, which is nice – it’s just there in the background.
I also like all the little sound effects that this game has – the cheering during elections, the scream that you hear when you get stress epidemic warnings (which is hilarious), and the different things you hear when your credit ratings and security briefings change. Altogether, the sound really does add something to the game.
Okay, so being a text based game, graphics were never going to be that important for it. However, the game itself looks very nice – polished is the word I’d use for it.
The main screen of the game, where you get to choose and alter your policy making is very neat and tidy, and it’s easy to find the options which you’re looking for. On this main screen it is also easy to tell how all the different policy areas feed into your voters and which are important for certain parts of the electorate, by way of highlighting the areas when you hover over them.
There are also plenty of infographics which are available to you, ranging from pie charts, bar charts and line graphs, showing you things like the rise and fall of your country’s economy, relative voter apathy, and how well you and your rival party are doing at the polls. All in all, these graphs give you plenty of information to use, and are very simple to understand, and really do help in decision making.
Character models, such as those for your cabinet members are fairly standard, and there isn’t much variation between those, but because you only have to see your cabinet members when the time comes up for shuffling the cabinet, this isn’t too much of an issue.
No multiplayer in this game. Because honestly, which politicians want to co-operate with other ones?
I found rating the challenge aspect of this game quite difficult. Not because I found it hard, but because I was unsure of the rating I should give it. I found the game very easy to figure out and the concepts easy to understand (i.e references to neoliberalism, macroeconomics, statism, dirigism, etc). However, I am also coming at this game from the point of view of someone who has studied politics, so this has obviously influenced my understanding of the game, and it is probably the reason why I found the concepts presented relatively simple. What I don’t know however is how comprehensible somebody without an in depth background in politics would find this game.
As for the actual game, the challenge is fairly mutable. When you begin a game, you have the option to set the difficulty through various options, and these do have quite the influence on the game – for example, you can set the game to have compulsory voting and from there it’s a simple matter of getting a majority of people to vote for your party at the election. If you set the game so voting is not compulsory, you then have the additional problem of trying to engage the apathetic voters in an attempt to convince them to vote in order to get a majority, which does make things a bit trickier.
Other options which can make the game harder are changing how often you have elections (varying from every 2 to 5 years), obviously the less time you have before an election, the less time you have to get people to want to vote for you, which can add a sense of urgency to the game, and the introduction of natural disasters, if you choose them, which can also affect how well looked upon your government is.
After a point however, the challenge in this game seems to come more from trying to get the electorate to like your government and want to vote for it. This seems to be harder if you play as a totalitarian government, as the game seems to want to push you towards liberalism – from my experience playing the game, it doesn’t seem to matter if you play as extreme Left/Right, as soon as you delve into authoritarianism, assassination bids and their ilk start to become frequent – and yes, they can succeed. This implies that the game prefers the liberal ground, as these attempts are noticeably less the more liberal the government is. However, it is interesting playing as an extremist government and seeing how long you can go for before someone manages to off you.
The game begins with you choosing which country, out of a selection of a dozen, you want to run. Each country has various differences to it – i.e the United Kingdom is described as being slightly socialist, despite the country also having a constitutional monarchy. These will affect how the game plays out, and is something to keep in mind when playing as that country.
After you’ve selected the country, you then get to change the difficulty and alter things such as whether the country has a monarchy or not – yes, you can have odd stuff such as a UK without the monarchy, or the US with a monarchy.
Once you’ve got through all this, you start the game properly. The first task presented to you if usually that of selecting your cabinet ministers – here it’s important to get a selection which allow you a large amount of political capital each turn, in order for you to be able to enact the policies that you want. You also have to keep in mind preferred jobs for cabinet ministers – they can and will resign if they’re not happy.
There are also groups each minister represents, ranging from parents to environmentalists to capitalists – here it’s important to balance between different groups, in order to keep each group happy, as these are the people who vote for you. Of course, you also get odd cabinet ministers who seemingly sympathise with contradictory groups; I think the oddest I’ve seen is a Communist/Capitalist minster. If you want a government which leans in a particular direction politically, you can of course just stuff your cabinet with ministers which sympathies which match your chosen affiliation.
After this, you’re thrown into the meat of the game – a screen where you can select your policies and the amount you want to spend on each policy – so you can introduce things like unemployment benefit (keeping socialists happy but annoying capitalists so expect your ratings with those groups to change as a result) and set it at a certain amount- again this drains your budget accordingly depending on how high you set it. If you want to abolish certain policies, you have the freedom to do so.
After a few turns, the game begins to pick up on the sort of government which you are playing as, so if you’re going for far Left, expect to see more options in policies which are left-wing – i.e you can introduce trade union councils for workers, nationalize all industry and services. Conversely, if you go for extreme Right, you can have stuff such as banning trade unions, a complete ban on immigration, banning rival parties, etc.
One thing which you do need to keep an eye on however is your approval ratings – however, as soon as you go above 50% in approval ratings, as long as you have compulsory voting enabled, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be re-elected in the vote. If you’re not re-elected, it’s a game over.
Whilst going through the turns, occasionally things pop up such as urgent policy questions, which can be related to just about anything – I’ve had urgent policies ranging from fracking to enforcing aeroplane no fly-zones appearing. You also get credit ratings reports periodically, which affect how well seen your government is by the people – as a rule, the higher the credit rating, the happier groups like the capitalists are. You also have to deal with changes in the cabinet, some can resign between turns and you have to replace them, etc.
Finally, you have to keep an eye on the different protest groups – these groups can be quite dangerous if left unchecked, so it’s a good idea to appease them every so often. And yes, I have known the protest groups to assassinate me in the game, which of course, is a game over.
This is a game I can keep going back to, to play over and over again, changing little things on each play-through, or playing as a completely different government type. This game is excellent for replay value.
Replay Value: 10
A brilliant Democracy game, if only let down slightly by the challenge it offers.
Written by Karen