I’m all for not having my hand held but Riot: Civil Unrest took this a little too far, much to the detriment of the experience.
Riot: Civil Unrest starts with a statement from the developers that they don’t take a side in any conflict, then the first thing you have to do is pick a side you want to play as, the police or the people. The idea of the game is to take part in simulated riots from around the world and you are either the police pushing people back or you are the people trying to push the police out. The game falls into the strategy category and should appeal to people who like titles such as command and conquer (I’m not saying it plays like that just I think the audiences could crossover).
I had a big issue with the game right off the bat, there was no tutorial (I restarted and checked in case it was a bug, but nope) as a result of this I never really got a handle of the game and even a few hours in I found that I was stumbling through levels. You see the “troops” you have at your disposal have different abilities and as the game moves on you get access to more but without ever really knowing their strengths or weaknesses and for me this was a bit of a deal breaker. At no point did I feel confident or really know what I was doing.
The game has a really cool visual style that reminded me of old CCTV footage giving the action a sort of authentic feel. The soundtrack and sound bites also make it feel like you are looking at scenes that actually happened and are not just fictional events. Some people may take offence at the subject matter though because at the end of the day you decide how you handle situations so themes of violence and things like police brutality can spring up and if you are someone who is offended by stuff like that it may not be for you as it is kind of sensationalistic.
During my time playing the game, all I could think was “this would be better on a PC or smartphone” I just never felt the control pad was a good fit for the game. Instead of simply clicking the location I want my troops to move in you have to move them with the left stick, to carry out an action (like say fire gas) you have to select the area you want to attack by moving a cursor with the same left stick but it’s pressure based so I found it quite easy to mess up if I was walking in a direction and also wanting to carry out an action in the same direction.
The game has loads of levels to tackle if you can get that far, personally I couldn’t as I found it too hard and I really think had the game taken the time to explain its mechanics to me better I may have made it further to experience them all.
On the surface, Riot: Civil Unrest seems like a good game, based on my play, like I said before, it doesn’t feel like a great fit for the PS4 but would be better on say the Vita or the Switch. Some people also won’t be bothered with the lack of tutorial and will be happy to figure it out, but like I say I never really felt confident that I knew what I was doing and more often than not I felt lucky when I passed a level rather feeling like I had actually achieved something.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*