Democracy 3 Review: All About Balance

Survival games aren’t all about horror.

Game's initial release date: April 17, 2005
Developer: Positech Games

Few topics are more polarizing than politics. And having somewhat of a background in Political Science, it is with great excitement that I discuss Democracy 3 and its take on this subject matter!

The game's objective is to search out a path to re-election and there are multiple actions players can make to achieve that goal.

Whatever the effects of your decisions are in Democracy 3, they subtly shift voters opinions into support or opposition for election day—if the candidate makes it that far.

The platform I chose to win re-election: move the USA into a flat tax. As committed to the program as I was, there were citizens who deemed the shift too radical. In the end, there were too many "hot-button" issues to splinter the focus needed to succeed and so the effort failed.

I surprisingly became fond of the game's interface. Though it may seem daunting at first, Democracy 3 sections off key elements of a country's industries and connects all of the related events. This helps to make sense of what effects your decisions will possibly make. The game blends national, administrative and personal issues to simulate how full a national leader's plate is.

What completes this combination is a touch of seemingly random behavior, either being a natural disaster or civil unrest. This is the wild card that can ruin players' efforts.

My campaign saw the removal of the USA's deficit, however angered one small group enough to assassinate my president! Since the goal of the game is re-election, all of that progress was for nothing!

What detracts from the thrill of this management is the game's cynicism and humanistic expression. It's hidden within the loading screens and policy outcomes such as:

Darwin's Legacy: Religion has been all but wiped from our country, leaving society that believes in science, technology & evidence, rather than faith in religious text

Democracy 3 in-game text

The issue is that this achievement is a reinforcement for removing the truth about God. While I'm not a fan of religion either, I don't see an attack on religion here as much as it is on faith in Jesus Christ. And Christianity is a relationship, a lifestyle with Jesus. Science is a gift from God to aid man.

Likewise the 'God's Kingdom' achievement attempts to promote ignorance and a disregard for discovery, neither of which is true of faith.

The other notion I received from the game is that all political leaders aim to misinform or are supportive of such practices as gerrymandering. They aren't main points of the game, but those plugs are still there and very real. Remember, a game is the representation of the heart of its creator(s). Humbly test what you play.

Democracy 3 only pushes one method for winning, but two for losing. It's interesting how life-like dynamics prevent any real major policy changes from taking place. It's almost as if you must leave the country the way you found it. Most of my outcomes either ended in assassination or losing the re-election (I'm probably just not good at the game). The result is a game that almost ends up playing you, not the other way around.

Also, there isn't a clear enough indicator in the guide about when positive impacts are unwanted and when negative impacts are favorable. Sometimes it's hard to tell when the graph data lowering is a good result for your campaign or not. Overall, despite this mild confusion it's still an enjoyable experience.

If you hadn't noticed by now, Democracy 3 is a survival game. It dares players to make changes that will most likely lessen their chances of making it through the a term, let alone re-election. It illustrates how difficult it may be to steer a country in the "proper way" and makes use of every decision made—even the decision to do nothing.

It's a mirror, showing players in some tangible way what they would or could do, given the power that goes with leadership. No matter how many times I play this game, it always feels fresh.

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