Titus: Politics Is Not A Game review
Politics is not a game – it's a dirty business, one that Titus makes almost straightforward as he faces a series of elections in which he tries to pocket cash from lobbyists, or hold a town hall meeting while dodging rotten tomatoes.
Each stage gives Titus one main opponent and several other chancers on whom to keep an eye, and over a number of turns (more as the elections become increasingly important) every character carries out actions. You can drum up financial support, get out there and talk to the masses, bribe a journalist to get an interview in the papers or spread some muck about the rest of the field. Each action is played out as a minigames of varying quality, with success dependent on your performance. The relationship between these and your various stats (including reputation, honesty and money) is obvious, and balancing the rewards and risks is the tricky part – not least because the first six opponents are a cakewalk before a sudden spike in difficulty.
The narrative is slight, but has a winning way with sly lines, and the illustrations of the politicians are so characterful that they don't need animation. The minigames let them down, though. Despite the odd new element being introduced now and then, all are simple to a fault. They’re not bad per se, but their repetition over the game's course quickly proves wearing – especially the propaganda minigame, by the far the one on which you'll spend the most time, which is an uninspired Doodle Jump clone.
But despite Titus' blemishes, the jokey setups and simple choices interlock into creating a satirical sweetspot. It's a game about politics in which policies have no real place, meaning not only that it’s bleakly funny but also that its simple cause-and-effect choices become a grim indictment. While it's far from being one the most mechanically refined or polished apps available, Titus is nevertheless distinct amongst the clone-saturated masses, with plenty of charm to fill out its bare bones. Don't expect the next Civ, but don't misunderestimate it either.