17/03/2021

๐Ÿ‘จ‍⚖️ I Am Your President: Prologue | Review | PC | 2/10 | "It’s a bargain bin experience that’s not worth the time" ๐Ÿ‘จ‍⚖️ @PixelHunted #GameDev #IndieGames

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If video games are about empowering the player, what better place to put them in the Oval Office? 

The potential is obvious: can a player balance idealism with pragmatic realpolitik, deal with crises, keep themselves electable, avoid scandal and above all project a firm image of confident leadership?
That’s exactly what President Studios’ I Am Your President: Prologue attempts to provide. This free ‘prologue’ is a roughly hour-long opening chapter to an upcoming game, introducing us to the mechanics, the world and its political systems.
Sat behind the Resolute Desk you conduct meetings with advisors, answer emails, manage projects, monitor the news, control your reputation, spend resources and sign bills. 

You shape your Presidency, but will the American public love you or cast you out of office?

While you’re steering the free world there’s also the White House and its staff to consider… as well as the nagging loose end of your unhappy marriage.

On paper, it’s a fine idea. In practice, I Am Your President hasn’t got what it takes. A lot of that’s down to the developer obviously having a shaky grasp on how US politics works. 

As the game begins you’re a year away from re-election, though to get there you must battle your own Vice President for the candidacy - a bizarre situation that simply wouldn’t happen in modern US politics.
Speaking of the surreal, on the first day you’re advised to launch nukes at Taiwan “to take China down a peg”. Despite the game assuring you otherwise, doing this has no consequences for your playthrough and is an early clue that whoever’s making this is a bit hazy (to put it lightly) on geopolitics.

Then there’s the fact that English is clearly not the developer’s first language. Practically every sentence is clunky and unnatural: journalists quiz you on “your opinion on the American sport in general” and you have to worry about “alienating voter base”. On top of the awkward writing come frequent actual typos: like Al-Qaeda being called “Al Kaida” or “losing” being spelt “loosing”.

The bad translation and typos also mean the sense of humour doesn’t land. I don’t want to get all haughty and snobbish about this, but the self-consciously funny bits feel like they were written by a 12-year-old. I mean, as a barometer of the gag quality there’s a news story about a turtle that starts saying “shit”. That’s it. That’s the joke.

This is only a prologue to the main game, so could President Studios turn things around?
Based on this I’m sceptical. At a minimum, they need a professional translator, but they also need to devote time to understanding how the office of the US President actually operates. Presumably, the target audience here is politics nerds - so getting the basics right feels like the least they can do.

It’s a shame because this squanders a fun premise that’s surprisingly thin on the ground. If you want a better President-em-up I’d advise checking out the very incisive and funny Democratic Socialism Simulator, a Reigns-like with a leftist bent that casts you as a Bernie Sanders type attempting to reform the United States against fierce opposition. 

Or just play Metal Wolf Chaos and blow some tanks up in a Presidential mech.

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