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In the interest of transparency and full disclosure, I received this game for free along with another game, “Dungeon Souls”, in order to do a review (of Dungeon Souls) which I still need to do (Dungeon Souls is pretty difficult, I’d like to not be a complete newb when I record a video for it. – Look for some gameplay footage of Dungeon Souls next weekend along with a write up of the game.) I was not asked to review Rogue State, but I spent much of today and lastnight playing it, and I really enjoy the game, so I thought I’d tell my readers about it since it seems like the type of game they would enjoy too 🙂 All opinions expressed within this review are my own.
Title: Rogue State
Publisher: Little Red Dog Games
Genre: Political Simulation
Where to Buy: Steam
Overall: 63/80 79% C+ “Good Game for Girls”
Concept 10/10: You have been put in charge of leading a newly independent nation. You must balance the interests of different party members, your cabinet, foreign and internal government officials, and the general population. Unfortunately, your brother seeks to undermine your success and take power for himself; however he is too popular with the people to be denied a position in your government. You must decide which sacrifices to make in order to minimize the damage that your brother creates.
Gameplay 10/10: Time passes as you build infrastructure, train your troops, create new policies, or call upon your neighbors and allies. You can raise taxes to get income but this will lower the support of your people. You can use a series of sliders to adjust your stance on many different policies trying to strike a balance between preserving your culture and heritage, but also progressing and building a profitable and sustainable future for your nation.
One of the interesting things is that your cabinet members, allies and neighbors are all randomly generated; so sometimes you’ll have a wide mix of conflicting political beliefs, and other times you’ll find less diversity.
As you make new policies, new opportunities for bigger and better policies will unfold. You can also visit the situation room and work on improving your military, invade your bordering nations, or undergo massive research projects which require a lot of capital and time but produce big benefits and earn you more support if successful.
Almost always at some point, your brother will try to overthrow you; depending on how happy the different political factions are, and also depending on how much you’ve researched and advanced, you will be able to successfully defend his onslaught.
Other things like the recession of the economy of the united states, or various natural disasters, or environmental conditions may also occur at random which will greatly impact your reign and your treasury.
At the end of each turn you’ll face a political or moral dilemma which will force you to make a decision which will shift your support and political alignment.
If you can survive 5 years in office, you will get to choose whether to give up your political office to allow the country to elect their own leader, or cling to that power indefinitely for yourself.
At the end of each term in office you must give a speech where you’re presented different dialog options to choose from. You must put together a cohesive speech using strong sentiments that tie into the overall message you want to send. You should align this message with your gameplan for the next term. If you want to focus on bolstering your military for example, give a speech to increase patriotism. Or if you want to focus on helping the poor; give a speech about healthcare reform and education; or if you want to increase profits, give a speech targeted towards capitalism and deregulation.
You need to keep everyone happy while also keeping your treasury profitable. Several military, policy, and research options will require an ongoing upkeep fee which will be deducted at the beginning of each new turn.
You can import and export goods across your borders too to help maximize your profits. Think carefully, you can only sell exports to one country at a time, and you will be locked into a contract for several turns after agreeing to trade to them. The price they are willing to pay depends both on the demand for the item as well as your political relations with the nation in which you wish to trade.
Story 5/10: There’s honestly, not much story, beyond that which I explained in the concept of running a newly independent country and the challenges that entails which will crop up randomly and change each play through.
Graphics 8/10: The graphics, and the user interface, have a very retro feeling to them. There is a bar across the top of the screen which can be accessed via hotkey or mouse press which is where most of the gameplay is carried out. You can also mouse over parts of the screen and if white text pops up it means that you can interact with that object. Your character will walk, sit, stand, and interact with things as you command them to. You can also choose between a male or female ruler; and the government seal is a basenji dog which is pretty cute. Some of the menus are confusing, such as I didn’t realize on my first playthrough how to activate political favors by clicking on parliament and then clicking on the cabinet member you’ve earned favors with, and then clicking on the square which indicates said favor. I think if they would’ve had a tab that listed “available favors” or something it would have been less ambiguous.
Music: 6/10 Ethnic retro chiptune style music, with a bit of comedic value, thanks to recent pop culture references such as Borat. The opening theme to this game reminded me of the national anthem in Borat.
Voice Acting: 8/10 The game is fully voiced and the ethnic accents help create immersion. The only flaw is most of the lines are word for word the same regardless of the different actors used. The delivery changes somewhat, but the dialog itself does not.
Replay Value: 10/10 The replay value is really high thanks to all the random events, and randomly generated characters thrown into the game. As your game comes to an end, for better, or for worse, you are awarded a score and based on that score, you will earn XP which can be used to unlock new campaigns, gameplay modes, or traits that can give you an advantage for your next playthrough, open new dialog options, or more. Each playthrough is fairly short, lasting 60 turns or less which makes it possible to play multiple times in a relatively short time.
Overall: 63/80 79% C+ “Good Game for Girls”