rogue state game review
The fate of your nation state falls squarely upon your shoulders. The revolution was a success, and now you must decide the policies while rebuilding the mighty Benji. If you love the civilization games and don’t mind some tough choices, this game is for you. I won’t lie, my hopes for this game were very low at the start. I laughed through most of the tutorial and actually had to restart because I missed key information. Right out of the gate, you feel like you might need a minor in Political sciences to play this game or at least a really good understanding of the inner workings of politics.
The game starts out with you, the newly risen to power, sovereign leader of Benji assigning your cabinet seats. You pick from a list of people each adding to or subtracting from different traits of your country. It is hard the first time you play as you really have no understanding of the impacts the decisions you are making have, and the game offers very little in the way of explanation. After your cabinet is assigned, you do what every great leader does and assign new policies for your people.
Your policies will have a major effect on how the four factions of your people feel towards you. The fundamentalists love a long holiday while capitalists are not huge fans. You also have to keep a close eye on your treasury as every policy will affect how much money you gain or lose each turn. It is easy to find yourself with a debt in the hundreds of millions. This feature is one of the main components setting this game apart from Civilization and other similar titles. I became hooked to adjusting the sliders for maximizing the amount of money made while ensuring my populous did not revolt against me.
After you feel the policies are set, it is time to rebuild. The building system is fairly straightforward. You purchase one thing in item tree to unlock the next. There are a very limited number of items to build because this game is more focused on the tough choices you make as a leader. With that being said, you must be careful how fast you build because money is very short in supply and goes very quickly. It took me no time at all to run my country into a huge mountain of debt which then led to me being overthrown by a rebellious coup.
The turn-based strategy is utilized in a unique way with Rogue State. In most TBS games, your opponents are also building up massive armies and cities to rival yours. Even with the possibility of war, the only real rival in this game is your populace and the events of the world around you. Every turn is broken down into four actions with an event happening at the end of each one. During these events, you will find yourself questioning your political alignment, trying to decide if you can stomach thinking outside of it long enough to better your standing with a particular group. The choices you make in your policies and building phases will come to play in these events. Did you build a nature reserve to protect that endangered species? Do you have a budget set aside for disaster relief for when that natural disaster happens?
After about 5 turns, I quickly stopped laughing at the somewhat commercial art style and found myself unable to walk away from this addictive game. The constant battle between balancing your treasure and staying in good standing kept me playing for hours. The developers at Little Red Dog Games have really given us a diamond hidden in the rough. I don’t recommend this game for a quick game session when you just want to veg out. Rogue State is a game for those afternoons where you have nothing but time and can devote your day to it because, undoubtedly, that is what you will find yourself doing. Don’t let all the political nature of this game set you off. There is plenty of hidden humor to keep gameplay from being stale. At one point, you even make a phone call to a chicken. If that is not enough incentive to play, you can try the corrupt route, wire millions of dollars into an offshore bank account, and get yourself something nice at the end of the game. Rogue State is well worth the investment in both money and time if you are a fan of the Turn based-Strategy style game.