I’m going to preface this by saying that I consider myself to be a rational, smart, educated man, I run two companies, manage multiple staff, balance out writing and study and have five children. So when I say that Democracy 3 confused the living hell out of me, I want you to understand that it’s not because I’m lacking the ability to understand it. This review is based on the expansion, Democracy 3: Electioneering. However, you can’t explain the expansion without first explaining the game it’s been added to. I also apologise as I’m on the road - I’ve had to resort to press kits and Positech for the images you see below.
Democracy 3 is a political simulator where you take Presidency over a country (or you’re a prime minister - either or) where you have the ability to pick and choose from a variety of policies that will subsequently effect 21 social groups. These range from parents to motorists, religious zealots to scientists, unemployed to the extremely wealthy. As soon as you load up you know you’re in for a trip, as the screen is split into a mess of barely separated (a thin almost invisible line separating “Categories” of policies). However, none of the games (One, two and three) ever dealt with actually being elected to the position yourself.
“For a long time, the Democracy games have basically been ‘government’ games, not election games. Making electioneering work in the context of Democracy 3 was not easy, because frankly every country has a very different electoral process, and electoral system. The US is NOTHING like the UK (We don’t have primaries or caucuses, for starters), and the way elections are fought is very different over the various countries that Democracy 3 models. (Another example: in the UK we have no political TV advertising). Eventually, I decided to take a few key areas of the election process, the ones that seemed universal, and model those, whilst letting the actual ‘mechanics’ of how an election is fought to remain abstract.”
The Electioneering, however, adds in just that.
The ability to campaign for election. In doing this, Positech has added in speeches, manifestos, media stunts, donors, adverts and a whole host of other “Election” related functionality.
The expansion doesn’t change the entire game - however it does open more features. For example clicking the “Parties” tab takes you to a much more detailed version than previously accessible before. You now have access to manifesto pledges, promises to make if you get elected next term, speeches, which can be made in the three turns leading up to an election. Just a few of the things the expansion opens up.
The entire thing is fantastic. If you get the gist of the original game. If. Reading a few other reviews online, it seems that way back in 2013 the difficulty was at an all time low - you could win support quite easily, hit a leading office term in a breeze and make everyone happy with a 90% approval rate. I never had the opportunity to play the original but the current version, to me, feels far too difficult. Let me clarify that, it feels as if it has the bones of an amazing game but it doesn’t do enough to solidify your understanding or your comprehension before dumping you into hot water. Whilst the tutorial is in depth, it’s a lot of information to take in at once.
Anybody fond of politics will absolutely adore Democracy 3 and, subsequently, its expansion Electioneering. However, this isn’t a game for casual Sunday gaming, you’ll need to set aside some time to learn and understand voting groups, policies, GDP, economy - the list goes on. I would suggest Electioneering to anyone who already has Democracy 3, if you enjoyed the game pre-expansion then the expansion will open up a world of new opportunities and functionality and only further your enjoyment. However if you’re looking for a casual, enjoyable Sunday romp with a game and haven’t purchased the original, give this one a miss.
During my three attempts at playing through the game, I failed each and every time. The first two times I attempted to roll through the game and the expansion. The first two times I failed miserably (and coincidentally these are the play through’s that I didn’t bother trying to read the nuances of the game) and the third I did moderately better (but still failed). It does seem the type of game that if you take time, you’ll win, if you don’t have time, you’re committed to a loss. Set aside a few hours and do yourself a favour.
Should you buy? It might be worth it to expand your Steam library if you’re looking for semi-cheap fillers, however, if your purse strings are tight and you’ve got a cosy weekend of rain and inside gaming ahead, give it a skip. The game itself is amazing if you spend the time getting to understand the nuances of politics.
Check out the trailer for Democracy 3 below.
You can check out Democracy 3 (And Positech’s other games) over at Positech.