Should it be? That is the question.
I’ve had my eye on Riot – Civil Unreset since it was announced in 2013 via a crowdfunding campaign. I’m a big fan of politics – social and otherwise – and can’t think of a single other game that lets players take a somewhat realistic look at the mob mentality of riots.
During my brief time with the game I chose to play as the police, which consists of a variety of units like the ones you’d find in an RTS (which makes sense as the game controls similarly to your modern ones).
As I advanced my officers towards the crowd of angry protesters they reacted in real time, walking backwards and bunching up just like what would happen in real life. The developer stressed that the AI was going to react as realistically as possible during our session: if you instruct one unit to get violent, others nearby react in the same way, as do their opponents.
When I first approached the game, I thought I’d be having fun being an asshole as the police:shooting tear gas into the ground, hitting people with nightsticks, and just being all around evil. But that wasn’t the case.
Yes, I was doing those things and they weren’t fun, but I don’t think they needed to be. At first glance Riot certainly looks like it would be silly, with pixel graphics much like Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery, but instead it ends up being a lesson on how and why riots become violent. You’ll get to see who makes the first move — such as a protester throwing something, or the police firing tear gas — as well as witness the equal and opposite reaction.
I was told I was playing what is still considered an early build, as development had been restarted again recently. After doing some research it seems that Riot has been started over from near scratch at least three times in its development. This make me doubt that the game really will be releasing soon on Steam, as stated in the recently released trailer seen above. There seems to be a lot still to add, such as more levels, media, and the real world settings and riots many of the in-game riots will mirror.
Riot Civil Unrest has the chance to give us a look at something many of us have never had to, and may never have to, face. I just hope it can actually deliver on its promise and doesn’t get stuck in development hell. I’m cautiously optimistic it won’t, and when it finally launches, you’ll have your choice of Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions to choose from, as stated in the game’s Indiegogo campaign.