On first glance you’d be easily fooled into thinking Political Animals from developer Squeeky Wheel is something much less deep than it truly is. Of course, this actually works in the game’s favour making it immediately approachable with it’s cutesy dynamic art style. In our hands on at EGX we spotted all ages of people playing the game and in fact found it to really engage well with younger audiences who perhaps wouldn’t normally settle into such a strategically deep and adult subject matter as politics were it not for this art direction.
The game is certainly unique, and we loved how it balanced it’s excellent visual style with expansive strategical game play and a quickfire political campaign structure that allowed for a concise timely experience. In our hands on we picked one of a selection of various animal characters to play as our political candidate, we choose Donkey and named him ‘Mr. Donkey’ accordingly – though in hindsight we feel perhaps DR Donkey would of added an extra edge.
Upon the choosing of our character we got to select a variety or positive and negative traits as well as skills to utilise throughout our political campaign. We even got to pick a variety of staff too, all animals of course, who in turn came with delightful names like Owlfreda. Once we’d selected our team and campaign platform we were introduced to the delightful looking world of Political Animals. Each game world is based on a real life location and each world is split into a number of distinct districts each with their own goals be that education, healthcare or so on and varying numbers of potential voters.
The core gameplay is thus focused on you championing you campaign platforms across these districts in order to gain more share of the voters than that of your opponent. Speaking of whom is also present on the map and can be seen doing many similar activities and strategies to yourself on their own turn. Political Animals take these concepts and fleshes them out with real strategical depth, the game has tons of different statistics which you can analyse and tactics from rallies, to bribes and slandering your opponent. Altogether this makes for a richly engaging experience and one we loved playing.
Speaking to Ryan Sumo, Co-Founder of Political Animals developer Squeeky Wheel we discussed the decision to make the game centered around animals given it’s political strategy play style. Ryan noted “We wanted the art style to soften the blow, politics can be a very serious subject – by having it as animals instead of people it makes it a little bit more approachable.” and we couldn’t agree more.
When discussing how strategy games as a genre are often known for their longevity and real time investment Ryan was quick to mention “Because we are strategy gamers and we know those games can take up huge chunks of your life – we specifically wanted to make this game something that’s kind of bite sized, it’ll take an hour or two hours to go through” continuing “Still, hopefully, strategically deep enough that it scratches that itch that every strategy gamer has.”
The game is currently coming to PC/Mac and when asked about the potential of bringing it to other platforms such as Vita, tablet and console Ryan was quick to explain “We’re open to all platforms, it’s really just a case of how successful the game is so we can invest that time and money” followed up by “Please buy our game so we can port it to different consoles.” something we most definitely concur with.
Based on our hands on time we can highly recommend the title and can’t wait to fully play it upon launch. The prospect of a tablet/Vita port excites us too as it’s the kind of deep yet bite size strategy that would be an excellent experience on the go. With the game’s launch window coming up in November 2016 this is one to check out as soon as you can and if you like the title be sure to grab a copy, it’ll be well worth it.
Ben Corbett-Mills | @Benleopards