Just in time for this oh-so-dreaded day for so many Americans, as well as many abroad, we got a chance to play Political Animals, a zoological political strategy game by Squeaky Wheel. With charming colorful graphics, and a tremendous amount of strategy at play, Political Animals may just be the game if you wish the Election was between actual Donkeys and Elephants.
Developer: Squeaky Wheel
Publisher: Positech Games
Game Version: Final, Review
Review Copy: Provided by Publisher
Interface: Keyboard and Mouse
Available on Steam
In a political contest where corruption is always around the corner, we want players to find out how incorruptible they really are. In this turn-based strategy game you get to decide whether you’re going campaign based on the issues or take some short cuts by stuffing some money in the right paws. Whether your a retired prizefighting rooster or a pig that sings platitudes to the crowd, there’s only one way to find out whether you’ve got what it takes to win this election!
First up, you need to plan to play the tutorial of Political Animals. Normally, I try just jumping in and figuring out a game on my own, but there’s so much going on in Political Animals, I’d hesitate to suggest that to anyone.
When starting a game of Political Animals, you’ll need to pick your candidate. Each candidate has two traits and a special ability. None of these are locked to a particular animal (though many animals are locked behind achievements) so there’s no need to worry. Additionally, you’ll need to pick two platforms and pick three staff members from a randomly generated pool of animal assistants. All this boils down to the point that there is plenty of freedom to make exactly the politician you want, which is a major point of success in Political Animals.
After choosing your Base of Operations on one of the many number of island (again, awesome amount of variety), keeping in mind the concerns of the different provinces on the map (this should inform the platforms you choose for your candidate), and selecting your staff, you create your opponent. You can tailor your political opponent to be dirty and scandal ridden, but personally, I let fate decide, and hit the randomize button a few times.
Now, the game begins and you have 30 days to earn the popular vote. There’s a lot going on, and a lot of different ways to play this. You can capture a few major locations without using any tricks, or spreads scandal far and wide. Your politician and each member of his or her staff can each take a number of actions each turn, be it moving to different provinces, raising funds, holding rallies, or creating scandal. You’re mainly focused on two things: Money and Logistics. These are your basic currency that let you run your campaign. Once you understand the basics, the game becomes one part balancing act and one part resource manager as your try to hold on to your own districts, claim the undecided, and foil your opposition.
To make this all more interesting, random events and opportunities will present themselves. The random events can be moral opportunities, donations, interest from the mob, and just about anything you can imagine (again, Political Animals distinguishes itself with the variety on display). They’re fun, often funny, and rarely fair, but that’s politics.
The game handles beautifully, and while there’s a ton going on, there’s no time limits of there than the 30 Day countdown, so you can take your time and play at your own pace.
Artistically, the game is beautiful, bright and have a very consistent almost construction paper cut-out aesthetic that is fantastic and belies the game’s complexity.
There is no multiplayer in Political Animals, which I see as a huge missed opportunity. It doesn’t the diminish the game, which is incredibly well polished, but I would have loved the opportunity to campaign against my friends.
Political Animals isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you’re a fan of games with a lot of depth and strategy, don’t let the cutesy, colorful graphics fool you; Political Animals is just as vicious and cutthroat as real life politics.
*Disclaimer: This review is based on a Press Review Copy given to us by the Developer or their agent. All opinions are the authors own, and the objectivity of the piece may be influenced by any of the authors own biases as stated in the article or in this disclaimer.*