Grand strategy games are often large and overwhelmingly complicated beasts that give little until you’ve proven yourself worthy of their time, and not the other way round, and Realpolitiks carries on this storied tradition. The latest offering in the genre takes concepts from games such as Hearts of Iron and puts a modern spin on proceedings with mixed results. While this game is a valiant attempt it really doesn’t rise to the heights of Paradox games and as such does not keep me intrigued for long.
So the aim of the game is to do whatever you want really. Grand strategy games tend to be a large sandbox and Realpolitiks is no exception, meaning that you can essentially choose your own objectives and aims to go for. You play as a state in the modern-day and have to control your countries finances, international relations and other important aspects. This is a huge undertaking, even in a game, and the tutorial process is long and hard, but the game makes the whole process a little simpler and maybe even flirts with being shallow. The options mainly come down to decisions and sliders, with relationships and every function you want to undertake being neatly bundled into a number or stat. This makes the game both simpler and less engrossing than the grand strategies it apes as there seems to be less character to it. Realpolitiks seems less like a great painting and more like an excel spreadsheet, and while I love some organisation it doesn’t really compare to Picasso.
Now, the issue with making a grand strategy that looks and feels like Realpolitiks is that you’re making a game that looks and feels like a Paradox game, and Paradox really know what they’re doing. The developers invited the comparison and sadly the game doesn’t stack up too well to the lofty heights of Crusader Kings or the like. To give credit where credit is due the game does what it wants to do fairly well, you may not be going into every single facet of your state or bloc and it may feel like some decisions hold little weight or are too binary, but the game never really felt like a grind. There was always an element of fun and there wasn’t really a point where I just wanted to stop playing. I had several fun play through with the various recommended states and while each was similar there were different factors and issues that had to be sorted with each that gave the game a unique feel each time. If you want a game with some replay ability this is certainly one of those.
This is not to say that each replay will be the same level of fun. If, unlike me but like many players out there, you don’t like having your own arms and legs served to you on a platter, then the game is limited in states to play. You can play as any in the game… But don’t. The lack of some features, and a seeming issue with the game AI, means that you must lead everything that goes on in the game. You can’t join into a bloc that you don’t create yourself and your overall political clout is somewhat depressingly realistic. If you’re not a big rich nation the amount you can do is fairly limited as you can’t take part in some activities and groups. This would be less obvious if building up wasn’t fairly slow and combat and military wasn’t overlooked. The game puts more on the politics (Gasp! I understand the name now!) and economics than the military of running a state and while this is fine it does leave me wanting a little more.
Aesthetically the game is Spartan. The illustrations are more modern than I personally enjoy but the game itself looks good enough. The number of overlays is good and I never felt like the games looks would turn me off. One small gripe I have is that I didn’t like the font they used. I don’t know what it is but I don’t like it. This is a small issue for sure and would never warrant mention but I’m unique and so you get the in-depth. The music wasn’t anything to write home about and was quickly replaced with my own playlist but that was out of preference rather than irritation. The game, in terms of assets and interface, is relatively strong and I’m happy to say glitches and issues were to a minimum. A very well put together game even if it’s not the most beautiful or stunning gamer this year.
Overall, Relapolitiks is very very alright. The game isn’t insulting and you’ll have fun with it if you want to play as a bigger nation in the modern world. This game won’t suck you in and hold you like other games in the genre but there is so much potential and the setting and theme is delicious. I’m looking forward to coming back to Realpolitiks in a few patches to see how things are going, but until then I’m going back into my medieval Crusader Kings hole.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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