RealPolitiks is a real-world simulation which tasks you with taking control of a country and ensuring its social and economic growth through decision making and man-management. Having been provided with a series of scenarios, a variety of projects, and observations to conduct, you are required to carefully balance a number of different elements. The happiness of your countries’ population, the unemployment rate, GDP and Human Development Index are all significant indicators of your success, and all of this must be managed whilst also ensuring your bank balance doesn’t deplete and your world ranking increases. Sound complex enough yet? Couple this with your responsibilities to the UN nations and the impending threat of war and hopefully you are getting a clearer picture.
Starting the game for the first time, you are presented with three game modes to choose from:
- The world is not enough: this is one where the country with the highest score by 2100 is the winner;
- Dawn of Tomorrow: WW3 has ended and after old empires fell a new order emerged from the ashes. Conflict still ensues and anger is the taste of the day;
- New world order: a free-for-all where every country has the same starting score, population and GDP.
Before jumping into one of these rather varied game modes, I strongly…strongly…STRONGLY recommend completing the tutorials on offer. Although very informative, they are a little text heavy and I found myself completing each of the tutorials twice over just to try and get my head around them. This was still not enough as I waded my way through the opening days and months of my first post as world leader.
The game comes packaged on the Nintendo Switch with the additional DLC, New Power, and this is where I started. It was the most appealing as it allowed for a level playing field between countries with each vying for the number 1 spot. At the top of the screen you can find out more about your country of choosing. For example, it will share your: score, position on the world rankings, money available, action points (a reflection of the governments effectiveness), and the GDP monthly growth. I chose to focus on developing the economy with the introduction of a stock exchange network and building my army to ensure I was protected from others whilst also influencing neighbouring relations to create a ‘bloc’ – an allied force of countries. I could have focused on a large variety of other projects, from the health service to immigration to import/export infrastructures and more.
It is important to note that you will spend almost the entirety of the game looking at a world map. This should not be a reason not to play it. It has been well designed and allows for easy navigation. It has a number of different views, from showcasing the terrain to relations between countries and trade links. Much the same can be said of the carefully crafted menus where you decide on key events and then monitor the effects of said decisions. It was also a welcome addition to experience the integration of touchscreen controls, allowing for accurate interaction with the map. I did experience occasional bouts of unresponsiveness however this was rare. When not in handheld mode, the use of a cursor worked sufficiently too.
When considering the audio, it is fitting of a game of this type, if a little uninspiring. Having recently played Hollow Knight, a game with which I felt the need to download the soundtrack on Spotify immediately – this one pails in comparison. It works, but it’s nothing to write home about.
As I made my way up the world ranking system, I naturally found myself becoming more and more involved. When not playing the game, I was reading up on current affairs to gain a better understanding of world relations, conflict and resources. There aren’t many games that I can say have caused me to do that! This is an impressive feat and one which shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Presented with a plethora of different decisions to make ranging from the difficult to the downright ridiculous, I enjoyed the humorous approach taken by the developers and the variety was excellent. Be it voting on UN nation agenda items or determining the fate of a have-a-go hero in a superhero outfit – can I make money off tourism by promoting his work or should he be imprisoned? – my game time was definitely interesting. I rarely had a moment to rest on my laurels as the world was ever-changing around me.
For all it’s attention to detail, I fear this may be RealPolitiks potential undoing. I feel the game may miss out on a core audience of gamers due to its incredibly steep learning curve. Even after a number of hours playing, I still didn’t feel I had a true grasp on all that was on offer here and my understanding of the repercussions of my actions was limited. I thought I was making significant progress and was quite pleased with myself, only to find my army almost entirely depleted and the unhappiness of the population increasing at a rapid rate within a matter of minutes!
It seems unusual to deem the level of detail in any game a negative, however I couldn’t help but feel that a simpler version of the game would have been a very welcome inclusion.
In summary, I found the game to be an enjoyable affair when I had time to dedicate to it, which in the current climate is somewhat limited. The detail is truly astonishing: the options available to develop your country’s prospects are varied and specific, and with only two slots available to work on projects at any one time, selecting the most important ones can be quite the challenge. Do you focus on the military to support in convincing other countries to become an allied force or do you improve education to enhance the Human Development Index? With decisions like this to make, picking up and playing for 10 minutes is not going to be sufficient – something I think some may struggle with.
I hope through both my review and the marketing of RealPolitiks, you can make an informed decision on whether this is a game that would interest you. If it is, then I can recommend it wholeheartedly. You will struggle to find a simulation that offers such an extensive array of options and attention to detail. If you are more of a casual gamer, I cannot. With the many games available at the moment and the Nindie Directs serving up even more, I feel RealPolitiks wouldn’t hold your interest in the manner that was intended nor in the manner it deserves.
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Reviewed by Shaun Hughes on the Nintendo Switch. Provided by Forever Entertainment.