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Game Info:

Rogue State
Developed By: LRDGames, Inc
Published By: Black Shell Media
Released: October 16th, 2016
Available On: Microsoft Windows
Genre: Action, Strategy
ESRB Rating: T (Violence)
Number of Players: Single player
MSRP: $12.99

*Advertising disclosure* Though Black Shell Media was a former advertising partner, this review is not influenced by that relationship.

Thank you Black Shell Media for sending us this game to review!

Rogue State is a political simulator where you are the leader of the newly created People's Republic of Bemidji. As the newly crowned Glorious Leader, you have to appoint cabinet members, manage the budget, engage with ambassadors of foreign nations, and perform other governmental functions. As you rebuild your country after its revolution you'll encounter random events that pose difficult decisions that will affect the lives of the people in your country, or your relationship with global powers. How you run the country is entirely up to you.

I really enjoyed the opening cinematic to the game, even though it's a essentially a slideshow. The artwork is nice, the voice acting is compelling, and it does a good job of setting the stage for your first day on the job as Glorious Leader. After the cinematic goes dark, the game loads and you're met with low quality, ugly character models, stunted animations and a user interface where every item is too big. The background and 2D artwork is nice, but it's hard to appreciate them when the character models are a pseudo-3D mess. The characters wouldn't be so distracting if they didn't do so much walking. Glorious Leader has to physically walk around the office to each station before you can access the different parts of the game, like policies and building projects. Also whenever you meet with a foreign ambassador you, and them, have to walk over and sit down to talk. The animations are only a few frames long and very jerky. The game would be better off if Glorious Leader was part of the background, just sitting behind the desk.

The sound quality is better than the animation, but that's not saying much. The best thing I can say about it is that it's adequate. The voice acting in game is worse than the opening cutscene. All of the voices sound vaguely robotic; it can be distracting at times.

Rogue State
Highlights:

Strong Points: Breadth of political content; high replay value
Weak Points: Low quality and unpleasant graphics; shallow gameplay
Moral Warnings: War; religious faction reduced to fundamentalists

The crux of the game is its political and managerial simulation. In that regard the game really comes into its own. There are a variety of factions in your new republic to keep happy or risk a coup. You also have to negotiate foreign relations with supportive and hostile nations. The biggest strength of the gameplay is the random incidents that occur. The game is split into 60 turns. During each turn you are allowed up to 4 actions. After you've depleted all the actions or you decide to the end the turn a random event occurs and you're given a number of different choices as to handle it. Sometimes a foreign nation invades, but other times you find a surplus of natural resources you didn't know existed. I really have to commend the developer's devotion to replay value here; no two playthroughs are going to be alike. With a hard cap on 60 turns (you'll rarely meet the end) there's no shortage of ways this game can play out.

None of the different political spheres is very deep; for example the policies section simply has sliders for various things like public transport, religious holidays and market restrictions. When you move one of the sliders it shows the effect that policy change has on the different factions within your country as well as the budget. If one of the factions starts to hate you then it can lead to a coup, so you want try to keep everyone at least somewhat happy. There's no penalty for drastically changing policies every turn. After every few turns you give a speech to the country and you get to choose different phrases to use throughout; these phrases affect the political factions in different ways.

Rogue State
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 68%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 91%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

The most confusing and worst parts of the game involve the intelligence and military. Once you've built up your country a bit, you get access to intelligence gathering. You can spend money to research certain intel on allies or enemies. This intel is extremely expensive and doesn't have a big enough of an effect to justify the price. I have to admit that I wasn't able to really understand how the military aspect functioned. There's an overhead map where you can control the units you've built up, but you can't see the enemy units. Also, the number of units you have at any one point doesn't seem to have any effect on how much damage your buildings take. After a few frustrating attempts, all future playthroughs were mostly peaceful.

Rogue State is a government simulator and thus war and threats of war are commonplace throughout the game. You can choose not to go to war, but in rare instances, due to random events and past choices, it's inevitable. There is a single religious faction called Fundamentalists. I found it extremely reductive to lump all the religious interests in the country into this one group who has vaguely religious policy goals. For example, they enjoy state sanctioned holidays but don't like loose restrictions on gambling and alcohol. The Fundamentalists are given equal importance to the other factions, but that means that if they're angry enough, they'll stage a coup, which isn't a great look.

I was reminded of the marvelous Tropico series while playing Rogue State, as both have you taking the reign of a burgeoning banana republic as it makes its way in the world. However unlike Tropico this game lacks depth and charm. Putting aside the differences in genre, there's just not much to each aspect of the government you're able to control in Rogue State. The random events at the end of each turn make each playthrough unique, but they wrestle control of the game away from the player and put it in the hands of the random event generator. If you think you'll like this kind of government management gameplay then this game is a good pickup for the price, just don't expect a ton of depth.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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