Byte Size – Riot: Civil Unrest, PS4 Review

Living in New Zealand in 2019, I don’t tend to be exposed to large scale civil unrest. Sure, we get the odd tree-hugger protesting about endangered guniea pigs or what ever, but on the whole, we haven’t seen large scale riots here for almost 40 years.

So as a resident of gods-own, Riot: Civil Unrest immediately caught my attention, for being about something I have little knowledge or experience of,  and frankly it is one of the more unique ideas for a video game I have seen in recent months. The short rundown is that this title is an Indie 8bit style game with mechanics that place it in the Real Time Strategy genre.

Players take control of either the Police or the Rioters. Each ‘faction’ have there own play style and objectives, but the interesting element is that winning is not about bludgeoning or firebombing the opposing side into submission. Its about achieving the desired goal with ‘acceptable’ political consequences.

The Good – The scenarios are based around real world incidents, including ‘The Arab Spring’ and the game is nuanced enough, even with its limited art style, to relay how difficult civil unrest is on both sides of the riot line.

The Bad – At times the 8bit art style looks great with cleverly designed sprites, but it very quickly becomes a blur of activity and it is hard at times to know whats going on.

The Ugly – The designers have made a strategy game with only one way to approach any given scenario to properly win, which for an RTS, takes the fun of choice away. The underlying real world idea of pacifism is the achilles heel for this game. Deploying smoke grenades and molotovs may look cool, but just like the real world, nobody wins in the end. If I chose to remain calm, stand in place or use gentle squad placement, I would easily win with no real strategy required.

I really liked this wee game. Its a unique idea for a RTS title, I learnt a few things during the explanations of why each riot was occurring and I liked the art style. It just needed a bit more free choice organic meat, on its strategy bones.

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