Thursday, February 23, 2017

Democracy 3 - 20/20 hours

So it's all over. My reign over the Republic of Graphistan. It wasn't always a glorious rule. Many graphs found themselves sinking uncontrollably. And while some of those graphs deserved their fate, others were merely the victims of my inexperienced misrule.

I can't say I enjoyed the game so much, but it's hard to sort out because I spent so much of the last couple of weeks miserable for entirely unrelated reasons. There was some satisfaction that came in successfully manipulating graphs using other, thematically-related graphs, but as an examination of ideology and politics, Democracy 3 fell flat.

A big part of my disappointment came from the abstraction of the game's mechanics. All too often, I'd face a situation like race riots or global-warming-induced killer cyclones, and all it would be is a new, red-colored graph. I'm not sure how it should have worked, but I would have liked a more immediate visual representation of my citizens becoming happier, healthier, and more racially tolerant (and, also, presumably, being swept up in giant cyclones).

My biggest regret with Democracy 3 is that I allowed my illness to slow my completion of the game. The flu probably wasn't directly to blame, in that there's a lot about this game that would dampen my enthusiasm anyway, but it certainly didn't help. Maybe if I'd crammed the graph-hacking into just a couple of days, it would have felt more immediate and intense. Maybe I would have experimented more, or taken pains to find exploits in the simulation's logic. Instead, my slow and methodical pace just led to me trying the same basic plan over and over again - carbon tax to get to positive revenue, then use the surplus to gradually increase education, health, and general welfare while the economy grows from high-tech productivity. In real life, I'm not sure that effectively and instantaneously doubling taxes would have all that meritorious an effect, but in the game, it worked everywhere except Canada.

Overall, I'd say that I want more games like this one, but that Democracy 3, in itself, isn't one of them. There's too little of the political nitty-gritty, too little humor and personality, and (forgive me) too many graphs. As refreshing as it is to play a game that centers around peaceful consensus-building (minus a few dozen assassins), it never really felt like anything but the world's most complicated game of solitaire.

No comments:

Post a Comment