“…the idea had superb potential.”
Do you think you have what it takes to find solutions to the challenges facing the African nations? Democracy 3 Africa is a re-imagining of Positech Games’ hugely popular political simulator. Taking the familiar model and overlaying it with new, more challenging countries to manage, the game challenges you more than ever by placing you at the head of some of the world’s less developed nations. Democracy is not such a well-established concept in some of these reasons, and getting people on board with your policies is not such an easy task as a result. This game is no walk in the park.
Everything that you see and use in Democracy 3 Africa is identical to the original game’s layout. There are no fancy graphics, with the game choosing to focus on mechanics and mathematics over shiny appearances. Thankfully this is a system that works, and for fans it takes away any need for a stringent new learning curve. For new players’ benefit, there is a simple tutorial in place to get you going. Whilst navigating Democracy 3 has always been a somewhat complex task in terms of following everything that is going on, finding your way around is easy once you know how. Then you can start to focus on the real challenge of the game.
The majority of the situations and policies which are in the game are the same as those in the standard Democracy 3 package. This is an odd decision, and many gamers will likely have been expecting a largely rethought model which more closely represented the political activities in African nations. Whilst some new additions attempt to point in this direction, the game largely overestimates the democratic processes which are present and important in some of these nations. A stand out problem was the recurring situation of obesity which I had in my games; a rather unlikely eventuality in terms of epidemics in this poorer part of the world.
The attempt to shoe horn the Africa concept into the existing model has also resulted in a much higher level of difficulty in this game. It is difficult to recommend this game to new Democracy players when it is essentially like the original only more difficult to succeed at. Particular groups of the electorate, mainly feminists and liberals, did not seem to agree with my leadership even after I solved all of the problems of GDP, Healthcare, Education, Equality, Unemployment, Homelessness and various others. Even when I played into these groups’ ideals, nothing seemed to help, and for the life of me I could not understand why.
Despite my criticisms of the way that this standalone re-imagining of Democracy 3 has been constructed, I still very much enjoyed the gameplay experience. Democracy has a certain charm in its depth, challenge and indeed the uncertainty which comes alongside every challenge. The few new policies and situations that are present are interesting twists on the experience too. HIV/AIDS is a specific epidemic which you may have to deal with for example, and one that is relatively unique to this region. Heavier focuses on minority and women’s rights are high up the checklist too, as are foreign relations and economic deals with other countries with a view to GDP growth. It feels like there is more room to grow in these areas than there has been previously, due to the fact that you are raising your nation from an earlier stage in its developmental life. This additional control opens up a variety of new avenues to try.
The real disappointment with Democracy 3 Africa is that the idea had superb potential. Its release as a minor standalone game is not what suits the game best. Either as a DLC package or a larger, more thought out new addition to the series, the game would have worked very nicely, but the in-between option has left it unfulfilled. Maintaining the standard Democracy 3 model makes this game feel a lot like an overly glorified DLC expansion, and one with a higher asking price than it should have for essentially the same game. Positech, sadly, seem to have missed a trick here.
I can’t call Democracy 3 Africa a bad game, because I did enjoy playing it. The problem is the reason that I enjoyed it was that I was playing Democracy 3 again, and not because the game has a revolutionary merit in its own right. For diehard fans looking for a new twist on one of the favourite titles, this game will suit you well. If you are new to Democracy or expecting to see a major aside to the standard game model, you are best off looking elsewhere. Democracy 3 Africa is going to be a one to wait for in the sales for the majority of prospective players.
- Highly enjoyable as a Democracy 3 game.
- The familiar layout avoids any kind of learning curve for fans.
- A simple tutorial attempts to welcome new players into the fold.
- Some new policies and situations apply well to the new theme.
- Less developed nations allow you to choose a more open route forward.
- The concept should have been a smaller DLC or a larger new standalone title.
- Africa setting feels very shoehorned into the existing Democracy 3 model.
- The vast majority of the game recycles existing Democracy 3 content.
- Much more difficult than standard Democracy 3, pushing out newer players.
- An expensive standalone given the many similarities to the original title.