Name: Riot: Civil Unrest
Developer: Leonard Menchiari, IV Productions
Publisher: Merge Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC
Reviewed on: PC
Release Date: 12.02.2019
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from a publisher for review purpose
We have all seen it on TV or on that one Youtube clip, where we see chaos in the streets police vs demonstrates. Barraging with their shields, with a baton in hand ready to subdue every last one that tries to F#%? with them. Trash cans homemade, smoke grenades and molotovs or the classic rock. This is the weapons that we are used to seeing in a riot and the chaos that unfolds. Most of us never have or never will have to take part in a riot, either to fight for something that we feel is wrong or be that guy that gets paid to defend and maintain peace in the streets.
But before this turns too diplomatic, let’s get to the point.
Riot: Civil Unrest is a strategy game that puts you in the role of both police and demonstrates. Where you will take part in the chaos either to defend or to fight, mixing between peaceful and aggressive. Where both sides have their strengths and weaknesses, and which one that is the bad or the good isn’t defined. The creator Leonard Menchiari, experienced rioting first-hand at the NoTAV protests in Italy. He created the game to tell the stories and express the feelings experienced during these clashes. What triggers the crowd to behave with such anger and aggression? Often outnumbered, what does a police officer feel like during the conflict?
When starting up Riot the share number of modes that is present can be overwhelming, with there be two campaign, custom matches and multiplayer. Where to start is up to you, but there is more than enough to keep you busy. In the campaign, you take part in real life scenarios that happen in real life, where you can play as either side unlocking chapters. Fun fact, the same riot Leonard Menchiari took part in is a part of the campaign, that inspired this game in the first place. Story mode unfolds the story from both sides, and shows what they think and feel before, in and after the riots. You can also create your own custom riots, with a different set of rules that can change the gameplay. The graphics are simple 8-bit but packed with details, it’s almost strange to look at but it keeps the gameplay in focus.
Unfortunately, the game isn’t without its flaws, which made the game difficult to like at times. First of all, it almost looks like they expect we know how to play this game from the get-go, not containing any tutorial when starting to play. Matter of fact it took me some hours of gameplay in the campaign before I even realized that the tutorial is in the custom mode folder in the menu. That sort of lets you know what you need to know but leaves out a lot to your imagination. Like when choosing weapon loadout as police, with different battons and equipment to choose from. It seems like we again are supposed to know the difference between them and what they do, which usually ended up in me not care about what loadout my troops had. If they had just put in some basic information and maybe some stats for each one it would help a lot, actually giving it some meaning not choosing based on the name that sounds the best.
Another problem is the balance of the gameplay, yes you can play as either side and they have their pros and cons. But playing as the police is a lot more easy, with their equipment and tactics. The Demonstrators are obviously not trained, so how they move and coordinate is like a flock of chickens and if they actually do what I want them to do is 50/50 chance. You are supposed to balance between passive and aggressive, but being passive just make them walk back and forth to avoid each other. So I usually just go hard and aggressive either sides and use violence to make my goals, since trying to keep track of all units and make them do different tactics wouldn’t work.
Riot is an ambitious game, with a creator that wants to put us in a situation we often can’t imagine. But with the balance issues and at times infuriating gameplay, it almost feels like it’s made that way too tell us how he felt. It has elements to make it an interesting game, but too little explanation on how to play. Graphics keep the gameplay in focus, but again that makes it easier to spot the flaws.
- Good art style
- Many modes
- Interesting idea
- Lack of tutorial
- Many elements with no effect