The Democracy games are traditionally defined as “government simulators”. This means that unlike other sim games where you take control of farm vehicles, trains, or individuals, you instead take control of policy, with citizens becoming an abstracted concept represented by a collection of bars and statistics. You’d be excused if you think this all sounds like something you left behind after high school, but it’s surprisingly engaging to see what your actions accomplish, and what different actions do between different games. It’s more on the scale of Universe Sandbox than The Sims or Civilization, but there is still some stupid fun to be had here.
The 3 in the title of Democracy 3 is a bit misleading however. The core experience is very similar to the previous game in the series, with the only updates coming from more recent references to policy on things such as unmanned drones. The game looks more like a proper game than Democracy 2, which has graphics that reminded me of early Carmen Sandiego games I played as a child. The unique interface of Democracy has been given the HD treatment, and it looks slick. In addition, it’s now much easier to see what individual policies are affecting, thanks to lines of arrows that point out connections only when you select that policy.
Another interesting change was the default countries you can pick from at the beginning of the game. In Democracy 2, you could pick from a host of falsified countries with names such as Fredonia which were stand ins for real nations. In the new game (as well as the original game), real nations can be selected from. I’d personally like to see a mixture of the two, as I think both are enjoyable at different times. Sometimes I want to drive America faster into financial collapse, and sometimes I want to bring the Grand Republic of Pudginstan into prominence on the world stage. Thankfully for me, the game has a dedicated fan base and baked in mod support, which should bring plenty of interesting options to the game after release.
So, if you’re not scared off by graphs or statistics, or you wish to bring some custom arguments to your next barside political debate, Democracy 3 might be for you. It represents the side of PC gaming that is oft overshadowed in the age of Steam Machines and MOBAs, the unabashedly geeky and educational side. Democracy is certainly a unique experience, and although many might not see it traditionally as a game, it’s still fascinating to see a small scale simulation of the system that rules us all. Democracy 3 will be available for purchase later this year.