John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Based on actual protests, such as in Egypt and Greece, ‘RIOT’ probably won’t be the feel-good game of the year.
It’s been a couple years since this site checked in on “RIOT”—the video game about civil upheaval that’s based on recent events—and while there’ve been some hiccups, the thing seems to be close to becoming a bloody reality.
There’s now a trailer introducing the heavily pixelated but nonetheless gorgeous world of “RIOT”—one where “[c]orruption, crime, and power has oppressed an entire generation.” Armored police gather in foreboding walls, an effigy swings by its neck, protesters unleash hell with Molotov cocktails and some kind of projectile launcher. Leave it to Florence-based Leonard Menchiari, a former cinematographer for Valve, to make carnage look so beguiling.
If the prospect of being involved with or trying to disperse a riot has ever excited you, then: (1) you probably need mental help; and (2) you definitely need to check out Riot: Civil Unrest.
Allowing you to take control of either the rioters or the forces allocated to control and disperse them, Riot has very unique gameplay that instantly makes it interesting and engrossing. Playing almost like a small scale RTS, you can simply left-click on the unit required and the action you want them to take, before right clicking where you want them to do it. It sounds simple, but as we found out to our own amusement, things can get out of hand very quickly—being heavy handed will often result in more aggression from the opposing forces, but being too soft can see them walk all over you.
There’s also word the game now features four campaigns exploring real instances of violent discontent—including Greece’s “Battle of Keratea” and Egypt’s Tahrir Square protests—as well as a soundtrack dripping with wordless dread.
So when might “RIOT” drop for phones, tablets, and desktop computers? GameSpew predicts sometime next year, and judging from a recent update by Menchiari that seems possible. “Darn, we found a major conflict in the physics engine,” he tweets. “Nothing that cant be fixed, but it’s going to take us a couple of weeks unfortunately.”