Democracy 3: Africa Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD


Democracy 3: Africa is the newest installment in the Democracy franchise by Positech Games. For those unfamiliar, the Democracy series is a strategy simulator that puts you in the place of a newly appointed president. Strictly focusing on D3: Africa, this means you are placed in the role of a president of a select number of African states. Before you begin playing, you are given the option of selecting between about ten different states that are not limited to: Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. Each of these states are further detailed by categories such as: population, Area, GDP per Capita, Labor Force Unemployment, Human Development, Democracy Index, Corruption Perception Index, Literacy Percentage, and Gini Income Inequality Index. When choosing which state to run, it is wise to take into consideration these defining categories as they pertain to future needs and predetermined strengths of the state that you yourself with have to either fix or uphold in order to have a successful playthrough. Thusly, these current descriptions of the states are more like a template of certain areas of focus you must take into account when choosing your state.


Initially intimidating, Democracy 3: Africa installs a menu system that never comes off as confusing, especially once you get into the rhythm of playing the game.

I emphasize the word “choice” here because essentially D3: Africa is predicated on the notion that one choice holds consequences and benefits that alter the political landscape of statewide affairs. Once a state is chosen, it is up to you to appoint Ministers to the seven separate divisions of your government. These divisions range from Tax, Welfare, and Public Services-to-Economy, Law and Order, Transport, and Foreign Policy. Each minister is defined by a set of categories telling you whether or not they will be a good fit into your political party. Some of these categories include two separate meters that define their level of expertise and effectiveness in their given field, and their level of loyalty to your political party. The loyalty meter definitely had a substantial role since later on in the game it is possible for a minister to resign based on the crooked truth that they want to “spend more time with their family,” which is just code that they did not agree with the way you were conducting the state. Obviously enough, when things like this happen, it definitely puts a damper on the public perception of you and your political party.


Choosing the right Ministers for the right roles can really boost your popularity with voters.

The decisions for ministers to leave your party are attributed to the trickle down effect set in place by the main crux decisions that run throughout the game: Policies. Policies are structured planes that pertain to specific wants and needs within each of the seven branches of government. Like most of the game, policies are presented in their own separate menu. Each one has a small synopsis that states what it will do when it is put in place. Choosing a policy will bring up another menu that allows you to decide how aggressive a push you want to make in implementing the policy. This level of aggression is controlled via a slider. On top of this are meters that serve as visual representations of the level of displeasure or happiness a certain class of people have with the policy. For example, at one point I decided to put into act a policy that set a law against anyone who was caught trying to mutilate female genitalia (yeah, it was a big problem when I entered into office at the start of the game), and suffice to say that I was very aggressive with the policy. Sliding the meter all the way up drew growing green meter that represented the ‘feminist’ population, but at the same time it caused the red meter that represented the ‘religious’ population to grow slightly larger, slightly redder.

Once a policy is in place, it is represented by an icon in the game’s main hub. Hovering over a policy icon -or any icon for that matter- brings up a flowchart that represents the trickle down effect it has on other policies or situations. It is keeping these ever-expanding connections in mind when making decisions to alter current policies or put in place new ones that serve as the main crux of the game. This is easier said than done once more and more policies are implemented -and they’ll definitely begin to add up over time. I should know. I was two years into my four year term before I realized that my policies were rubbing radical feminists the wrong way. Two failed assassination attempts, and one successful one later and my term came to an abrupt end.


Also, keeping in mind what forms of policies affect certain classes will better assist you in forming a plan as to what policies to put into force.

As much as it is hard to please everybody all at once in real life, it would have been nice if the game was slightly more lenient in accomplishing this rather than remaining staunch to realism. This comes off of my personal experience where I did quite a bit during my time in office to advance sexual equality with certain policies; not to mention being able to put an end to female genitalia mutilation as well.

Difficult or not, the template Positech has started with Democracy 3, and is now using here with Democracy 3: Africa is both an efficient and thorough one. For a game that has more menus than any game I have played so far, I never felt overwhelmed or lost. That is saying something there. On top of that, aesthetically, the game reminds me of the good old days of PC text-based adventure games where a real sense of motion is achieved from effective background music (in this case a vibrant, traditional African score), good, concise writing, and catchy sound effects. Yet from what I have heard from the community on Steam who have both played this game as well as the original installment, $15 may be a bit steep when considering this game is more of a minor expansion than a full-blooded one. I could still see it as a worthy purchase if you thoroughly enjoyed that game and are looking to dive in some more, or if you have yet to play a Democracy 3 game.

I know that I’ll be going back to this game soon to see if I can try avoiding assassination…yeah, we’ll see about that.